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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Favorite passages?

Hi all,

Because the writing itself is such a strong and immediate element of this novel, I'm sorry I didn't put this thread up right away. Some of us find Claire's complex, brilliant sentences a welcome engagement, and I'd love to hear of any favorite early passages.

I might have to chose something from the introduction to Bootie, but I'd have a hard time deciding which passage, because I'm actually taken by him. I love the first picture of him in worn flannel pjs, trying to cover his round belly and showing his skinny ankle, AND I like his chapter in the tub, making his way through Infinite Jest (which I haven't done) and barely able to read poetry.

Another favorite of mine is the description of Danielle's apartment as a kind of self-portrait in chapter twelve: "Her Self, then, was represented in her books; her times in her records; and the rest of the room she thought of as a pure, blank slate."

Don't you see your own bookshelves as either a representation of your thoughts or of what you hope to think? There's something very humorous in the idea.
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Favorite passages?

One of my favorite passages reminded me of Jane Austen's gentle mockery of the self-importance of some of her own characters.

I laughed out loud at this section; it was delicious, hilarious farce of concerned, self-important fatherhood.

On p. 71, Marina enters her father's private study to ask his advice. The study setting is a dragon's lair, and her father a dragon.

"I know the door was shut--but I thought--I really need to talk to you---"

"...and with a sigh, the sigh of parental responsibility, he resigned himself. He shuffled his papers, slid them into their folder, turned it facedown, all with a nonchalance that suggested they were of no possible importance, and shifted himself in his chair, so that he could look properly at his daughter and, as she required of him, converse."

"But Daddy, what am I going to do?"

Murray Thwaite blinked....he knew she was bright...intelligent enough for there to be no excuse, no possible excuse for this behavior. He manifested his displeasure by breathing, dragon-like though his nose. He could feel his nostrils flaring."

She leaves his study; he has given her absolutely no real advice:

"Once Marina had gone, Murray Thwaite sat again before his open folder. He took a clean sheet of paper and wrote at the top: "Chapter Ten: Counseling an Adult Daughter." He crossed this out, wrote "Conversations with an Adult Daughter'; and then, "A Grown Child Ponders How to Live." At the last, he settled upon "Talking to a Grown Child," which words sat in the middle of the page in black ink, in his long, narrow capital letters.

I just love Claire Messud's writing!
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Favorite passages?

I don't yet have a favorite passage to post, but I was wondering how many of the readers looked up a word that they didn't know? I have had to look up a few (ok, maybe several), but I enjoy the challenge. In a literature class I took in college, my professor insisted we look up any word we did no know and that has stuck with me some 10 years later. I am going to post my list of looked up wors, once I can relocate it. Anyone else interested in doing this? I little vocabulary lesson perhaps?
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Pat_T
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: Favorite passages?

I love Claire Messud's wit and writing style. I laughed out loud as I read of the death of the Thwaite's beloved cat, Pope (pp. 143-144.) Marina registers simply, "Oh, so this is death." Then Murray comes in and asks what's wrong, and they both just stand there staring at the dead cat. Murray asks if the cat is really dead and if Annabel is asleep, then decided "worse things could happen than leaving her there overnight, don't you agree?" Marina asks, "Don't dead things, you know, leak?" He says, not overnight and it's pretty cool. "I just think your mother's the one to cope with this. Or Aurora." He paused. "Unless you want to do it."

"Not much."

"Didn't think so. Come on, let's shut the door. It'll be as if you never came in here...."

Just these few short lines tell so much about Marina & Murray, their relationship - how similarly helpless they are- and the family dynamic. And it doesn't bode well for Bootie who later comes to use the bed where Pope died.
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Favorite passages?

Yes, Pat, that was great! I laughed AND couldn't stand either of them in that scene. Leak! Ick. And this was Marina's childhood pet!
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Favorite passages?

"...the end of life, all of them people tethered by love, and habit, and work, and meaning, tied into a meaning suddenly exploded, because contrary to all [Bootie] had imagined, being tied, being known, did not keep your safe." (pg. 437)

I think this quote sums up what a lot of people learned on September 11.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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