best book i read in 2011

“You were ambitious – for your life, what is was like when you woke up in the morning, and not for some attainment. Like most people who did not answer a particular calling from an early age, you placed work beside yourself; any occupation would fill up your day but not your heart.”

“Besides, good life doesn’t knock on the door. Joy is a job.”

“We gorged on fruit and sorbet and splashed immoderate second shots of clear, heady framboise, whooping at each other’s top-this tales in the orgy of eternal adolescence characteristic of the childless in middle-age.”

“How lucky we are, when we’re spared what we think we want! ”

“Nothing is interesting if you are not interested.”

“She had announced at our introduction in September that she “simply loves children”, a declaration of which i am eternally dubious. From young women like Miss Fabricant, with a blunt snub of a nose like a Charlotte potato and hips like Idahos, the infeasible assertion seems to decode “I want to get married“. Myself, after having not a child but this particular one, i couldn’t see how anyone could claim to love children in the generic anymore that anyone could credibly claim to love people in a sufficiently sweeping sense as to embrace Pol Pot, Don Rickles, and an upstairs neighbor who does 2000 jumping jacks at three in the morning.”

“Childless, I’d perceived baby crying as a pretty undifferentiated affair. It was loud; it was not so loud. But in motherhood I developed an ear. There’s the wail of inarticulate need, what is effectively a child’s first groping after language, for sounds that mean wet or food or pin. There’s the shriek of terror – that no one is here and that there may never be anyone here again. There’s that lassitudinous wah-wah, not unlike the call to mosque in the Middle East or improvisational song; this is creative crying, fun crying, from babies who, while not especially unhappy, have failed to register that we like to constrain weeping to conditions of distress. Perhaps saddest of all is the muted, habitual mewl of a baby who may be perfectly miserable but who, whether through neglect or prescience, no longer anticipates reprieve – who in infancy has already become reconciled to the idea that to live is to suffer.”

Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin


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