Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven

“The Man of the House” by Ethel Colburn Mayne
001.   [From Introduction by Christopher Isherwood] …but that was already West Kensington–not so much a district as ab excuse for not admitting that you lived in Hammersmith, which was then thought to be vulgar.
002. But he’s as dumb as she is, and if possible a little shyer. Affinity may go too far.
003. Like all cats, he did precisely as he pleased to the top limit of his powers. …To claim anything from Timothy would be to make him less than cat.
004. …but even Constance, who was noted for outspokenness, did not ask her what she meant. She never liked to be asked that; she found it difficult enough to say what she did say.
005. [Final paragraph of story]  Melicent, who was in front, turned quickly round. She looked as if she meant to speak, but she turned back again and went into her room without a word, and shut the door.

‘The Man Who Missed Trains’ by Diego Marani (translated by Elizabeth Harris) [from Best European Fiction 2015]
001. I found myself thinking that maybe drunkenness corrected for madness. So maybe more than one crazy person could regain his sanity for a short while with a couple liters of Malvasia. He could choose the amount and type of wine according to the type of mental illness. … The inverse was more complicated: correcting the impulses of the mentally healthy with neurasthenia therapy. So: a light does of schizophrenia for someone too full of himself; or a little melancholia for pushy people. A great advance in psychiatry.

Mary George of Allnorthover by Lavinia Greenlaw

01. There was too much, anyway, between her and the world, without those thick lenses. They corrected her vision, but she could not feel what she could see. So Mary tended to keep her head down and imagine.

Melymbrosia by Virginia Woolf
001. When one gave up seeing the beauty that clothed things; this was the skeleton beneath.
002. It’s the burden of lies—we carry the burden of lies.

The Mentor
01. What you don’t say can’t be used against you.

My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakapoulos
-001- As a man of average size and limited physical prowess, I have long ago learned that insanity is far more intimidating than size of strength. Nobody, if you will, fucks with a crazy man.
-002- but somehow, to me, insomnia does not seem so bad when the sleeplessness is productive in some way.
-003- You want to control everything? Just make everybody really unhappy. Then put them on the same pill.
-004- Today the volume chosen is Lermontov’s _A Hero of Our Time_, one of the first great misanthropic novels.
-005- I feel feverish and thin, like a Dostoyevsky character who has committed a heinous transgression of some sort, and who awakes the next morning, finally feeling the full weight of his predicament.
-006- The sky is so grey it seems to be made of stone.
-007- And as I said, I am done with striving. It is useless as everything under the sun, as it has been written.
-008- There is nothing wrong with the richness of the fantasy life. I am convinced of that: it is always so much more rewarding than reality.

Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon
001. I was in a state of perfect ambivalence, worse than ever before.
002. The first lie in the series is the one you make with the greatest trepidation and the heaviest heart.
003. My love of her was like scholarship—an effort to master the loved one’s corpus, which, in Phlox’s case, was patchwork and vast as Africa.
004. It is true, I know, that I failed to permit Cleveland [a person] any real sense of the world within me, which was, and is, a world of secrets (but that is putting it too grandly, for it was only a world of things that I could not—no, that I needed not to say.)
005. I did not consider myself to be gay; I did not consider myself, as a rule.
006. No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.
007. 88: And yet just that morning… hadn’t I for the fiftieth time berated myself for my failure to encounter, to risk, to land myself in novel and incomprehensible situations?
008. Another happy cloud of dullness bloomed and settled over my senses.
009. [When a woman our protagonist fancies whispers in his ear he likens it to an] undoing of a giant zipper within me.

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