Elizabeth Strout

Mr. President

It was a newsmagazine she was reading, something she hadn’t done for quite a while—she turned one page quickly, because she couldn’t stand to look at the president’s face: His close-set eyes, the jut of his chin, the sight offended her viscerally. She had lived through a lot of things with this country, but she had never lived through the mess they were in now. Here was a man who looked retarded, Olive thought, remembering the remark made by the woman in Moody’s store. You could see it in his stupid little eyes. And the country had voted him in! A born-again Christian with a cocaine addiction. So they deserved to go to hell, and would.

Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout · Love

Love, old love

What young people didn’t know, she thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm; oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly, as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again. No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn’t choose it. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered. And so, if this man next to her now was not a man she would have chosen before this time, what did it matter? He most likely wouldn’t have chosen her either. But here they were, and Olive pictured two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union—what pieces life took out of you. Her eyes were closed, and throughout her tired self swept waves of gratitude—and regret. She pictured the sunny room, the sun-washed wall, the bayberry outside. It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet.

Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout

All these lives.

She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.

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It’s just that I’m the kind of person – Rebecca continued -that thinks if you took a map of the whole world and put a pin in it for every person, there wouldn’t be a pin for me.

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Sometimes, like now, Olive had a sense of just how desperately hard every person in the world was working to get what they needed. For most, it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became.

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All these lives,” she said. “All the stories we never know.

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-Oh, gosh, Olive. I’m so embarrassed.

-No need to be- Olive tells her. “We all want to kill someone at some point.”

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

Romain Gary

Ignoranza

La mia ignoranza è finita verso i tre o i quattro anni e certe volte ne sento la mancanza.

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Madame Rosa diceva che per lei queste cose non contano, siamo tutti uguali quando siamo nella merda, e se gli ebrei e gli arabi si spaccano la faccia è perchè non bisogna credere che gli ebrei e gli arabi sono diversi dagli altri, è proprio la fraternità che fa fare così. Ho dimenticato di dirvi che Madame Rosa teneva sotto il letto un grande ritratto di Hitler, e quando si sentiva infelice e non sapeva più a che santo votarsi, tirava fuori il suo ritratto, lo guardava e si sentiva subito meglio, perchè era pur sempre una grossa preoccupazione di meno nella sua vita, ora che la guerra era finita e lui era morto.

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Io all’eroina ci sputo sopra. I ragazzi che si bucano diventano tutti abituati alla felicità e questa è una cosa che non perdona, dato che la felicità è nota per la sua scarsità.

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Non vi parlerò della felicità perchè non voglio fare una crisi di violenza, ma il signor Hamil dice che io ho delle disposizioni per l’inesprimibile. 

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Il signor Hamil dice che l’umanità non è che una virgola nel grande Libro della vita e quando un vecchio dice una stronzata simile non vedo proprio cosa posso aggiungerci io.

La vita davanti a sé – Romain Gary

Death

The youth evaporates

“Your youth evaporates in your early 40s when you look in the mirror. And then it becomes a full-time job pretending you’re not going to die, and then you accept that you’ll die. Then in your 50s everything is very thin. And then suddenly you’ve got this huge new territory inside you, which is the past, which wasn’t there before. A new source of strength. Then that may not be so gratifying to you as the 60s begin, but then I find that in your 60s, everything begins to look sort of slightly magical again. And it’s imbued with a kind of leave-taking resonance, that it’s not going to be around very long, this world, so it begins to look poignant and fascinating.”

Martin Amis (from an article in Smithsonian magazine)

Places

India

Last time she had returned from India on a high but this time the drug didn’t seem to be working. There had been some moments of heart-stopping beauty. She remembered a dawn outside Allahabad, piles of refuse, smoking fires and the beggars rising from the ashes… an ineffable grace in the midst of squalor. Such epiphanies could be found everywhere, for those with eyes to see them. But somehow the connection she sought so keenly hadn’t been made. This time, somehow, she hadn’t managed to rise above the delays and frustrations, the general hopelesness of everything. On several occasions she had lost her temper, a humiliating experience in a country whose people, however cruelly they were treated, seemed to possess no rancour. One didn’t take things personally here; there was simply no point.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Deborah Moggach

Elizabeth Strout

Hope #ElizabethStrout #Hope

“She remembered what hope was, and this was it. That inner churning that moves you forward, plows you through life the way the boats plowed the shiny water, the way the plane was plowing forward to a place new, and where she was needed.”

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Hope was a cancer inside him. He didn’t want it; he did not want it. He could not bear these shoots of tender green hope springing up within him any longer.

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“You couldn’t make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn’t go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.”

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout