Elizabeth Strout

Young people

God, I love young people,” Harmon said. “They get griped about enough. People like to think the younger generation’s job is to steer the world to hell. But it’s never true, is it? They’re hopeful and good – and that’s how it should be.”

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A lot of people don’t have families. . . . . But they still have homes.

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After all the years of broken collarbones, pimples, hockey sticks, and baseball bats, and ice skates getting lost, the bickering, schoolbooks everywhere, worrying about beer on their breath, waiting to hear the car pulling up in the middle of the night, the girlfriends, the two who’d had no girlfriends. All that had kept Bonnie and him in a state of continual confusion, as though there was always, always, some leak in the house that needed fixing, and there were plenty of times when he’d thought, God, let them just be grown.

And then they were.

 

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout

Love, Loneliness #ElizabethStrout

Even Freud had said, “We must love or we grow ill.” They were spelling it out for him. Every billboard, movie, magazine cover, television ad- it all spelled it out for him: we belong to the world of family and love. And you don’t.

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Olive can understand why Chris has never bothered having many friends. He is like her that way, can’t stand the blah-blah-blah. Still, she has been worried about his being lonely.

She knows that loneliness can kill people  -in different ways can actually make you die. Olive’s private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as “big bursts” and “little bursts”. Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee’s, let’s say, or the waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.

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She would like to say Listen, Dr. Sue, deep down there is a thing inside me, and sometimes it swells up like the head of a squid and shoots blackness through me. I haven’t wanted to be this way, but so God help me, I have loved my son.

 

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

Gillian Flynn

I would not be a man who borrowed from his wife. I could feel my dad twisting his lips at the very idea. Well, there are all kind of men, his most damning phrase, the second half left unsaid: and you are the wrong kind.

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There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child – you grow up knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die. There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made.

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We were born in the Seventies, back when twins were rare, a bit magical: cousins of the unicorn, siblings of the elves.

Gone girl – Gillian Flynn

Christina Henriquez · Love

My mama told me once there used to be a section of land that extended out over the bay where she and Papi would park. It’s hard to imagine them like that, based on the people I know now, but when she told me about it I could see her face glowing with the embers of nostalgia and joy. I wonder what happened to that piece of land, and I think that even if the water swallowed it, there is still happiness that soaked into its dirt and even if my mama or I can’t stand on it now or touch it, it’s still somewhere. Sometimes I think that’s true: that every emotion gets caught in the fabric of the earth and even if it moves away from you and you can’t find it anymore, it will always exist.

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“They were pretending before. I know you said you didn’t see it coming, but they did that on purpose, you know? Like to spare your feelings. When my parents got divorced they tried really hard to keep it a secret. They were normal to each other for a long time even though they weren’t normal underneath. They just didn’t want me and Davey to see it, you know?”

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I would suffer for months and know for the first time the feeling of my heart breaking. I would know what my mother had been feeling for weeks. And I would discover how much of life is defined by what you want to keep and what you are forced to lose.

Come together, fall apart – Christina Henriquez

Christina Henriquez · Love

He’s smiling so it lights up his face like he’s in a contest with the sun and I can’t help but stroke his sideburns with my hand and smile back.

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There are two ways you can go in this life: Either a whole family, twenty people or whatever, stick together and live all in one house like a big pod, or else everyone’s spread all over, like seeds, and you each replant yourself and make a new life on your own. One’s not better than the other, I don’t think, but they each require certain adjustments.

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And I loved that feeling – my papi and me together like bandidos, bumping over the gravel in the scorching midday sun, shredding the earth beneath us as we went. Most memories might be like water, but some are like wood – so solidly there that you can feel them and smell them and wrap your hands around them, and for a hundred years they will never go away.

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She looked at me.

He wasn’t a good father – she said – I always knew he wouldn’t be. But everything he’s given me, I’ve kept.

 

Come together, fall apart – Christina Henriquez

Christina Henriquez · Love

It’s the stranger feeling whenever I see him – like seeing the love of your life, the one who left you, when you’re just out doing errands, trying to keep up with the business of the everyday. You half want to run and jump on them and bury your face in their neck and hold on forever and you half want to turn away, shielding yourself.

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I felt like there was something I was supposed to say, some perfect thing a person better than me would be able to come up with. “I’m sorry” – I said again. She shrugged.

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I’d always thought there was something special between my mother and me. Like she was somehow more mine then my brother’s. But maybe all children feel that – a sovereignty of ownership over the parent they love best.

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It’s by César Vallejo. I sit down and he reads it to me. I don’t understand poetry the way he does. Things either sound good to me or they don’t. That’s it. The poem he reads tonight is short. It’s about the poet’s brother, who died. My favorite line is: “And now a shadow falls on the soul”. I feel the tears burn behind my eyes.

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At the funeral, a photograph of my mother sits on an easel next to the urn. It’s black-and-white, all soft edges and haze. She is too young for me to recognize her. I wonder, if I hadn’t been her daughter, if I had just met this woman in the photograph on the street, would I have liked her? but it’s a stupid thing to wonder, because of course I would have. I would have loved her anytime.

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I knew she was only trying to hurt me because I had hurt her. Her brand of meanness was of the temperate variety. 

Come together, fall apart – Christina Henriquez