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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 11, 2006


    Captivating lines from reading

    I'm not a good writer. Through reading and reviewing I hone my writing skills. As I become hip-deep in eating books (3 to 4 books at a time) it dawns on me that critical thinking contributes subtantially to the writing process. Words in mind have to be transcribed on paper, and this is where organization comes in the picture. Essays often read disjointedly because of the random thoughts and ideas that are deprived of the proper transition. So the sentences might be well written and achieve remarkable structural variation but they are like lumps in a bowl of porridge.

    I made it a habit to pen marginal notes, a task that has manifested into the colorful post-in thumb-tabbing all my reads the past few years. An important component of these scribbles, besides the usual thoughts and comments to the texts, are favorite lines. Improvement in writing more or less is conducive to imitation. So one of my Moleskine notebooks devotes to the tabulation of captivating lines and phrases. To share a few recent additions:

    "...reading serious literature impinges on the embedded circumstances in people's lives in such a way that they have to deal with them."

    "...tainted with condescension."

    "...came stripped of all but its essential twists and nuances."

    "Even being lied to, though hardly was love, was sustained attention."

    And this is my favorite one:

    "I distrusted book clubs for treating literature like a cruciferous vegetable that could be choked down only with a spoonful of socializing."

    Your turn: Figure out where these lines might have originated. They are all taken out of two books.


    Blogger Carmi said...

    I beg to differ: you write well. Writing is, after all, little more than the clear expression of thought.

    I'm totally stumped by your challenge. I think I've been working too hard of late, and just don't have the brain power to take on any more challenges.

    Damn, I need another vacation!

    2/11/2006 6:41 PM  
    Blogger Oakland Rezident said...

    Isn't it...
    "Even being lied to constantly, though hardly like love, was sustained attention;"

    How about this one...
    "straight upwards, so it burns; but the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!"

    2/12/2006 4:48 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Thanks for your very kind words - inspiration. I enjoy your blog and writing very much. I usually try to tackle your challenge every morning with a cup of coffee.

    Is it from Moby Dick?

    2/12/2006 5:46 PM  
    Blogger Oakland Rezident said...

    Yes, you stinking Literati it is Moby Dick! J/K about the stinking part. I'm munching on my pupusas right now. Mmmmm

    2/12/2006 7:01 PM  
    Blogger Matt said... favorite quote about how book club just waters down literature is from collection of essays by Jonathan Franzen.

    My grief for the way Oprah Bookclub readers stigmatized Anna Karenina is ineffable. What do housewives who seek life's contentment out of daytime soap operas know about literature?

    2/12/2006 7:40 PM  

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