Life is like invading Russia. A blitz start, massed shakos, plumes dancing like a flustered henhouse; a period of svelte progress recorded in ebullient despatches as the enemy falls back; then the beginning of a long, morale-sapping trudge with rations getting shorter and the first snowflakes upon your face. The enemy burns Moscow and you yield to General January, whose very fingernails are icicles. Bitter retreat. Harrying Cossacks. Eventually you fall beneath a boy-gunner’s grapeshot while crossing some Polish river not even marked on your general’s map. (Julian Barnes, from Talking It Over)
“Nevetheless, you’ll have to reconcile yourself to the fact that I am,” retorted Woland with a twisted smile. “No sooner do you appear on the roof than you blab nonsense, and I’ll tell you what it is – it’s in your intonation. You pronounced your words as if you refuse to acknowledge the existence of either shadows or evil. But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and from living things. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid.” (Mikhail Bulgakov, from The Master and Margarita)
This is the week that I just cannot fit in writing my column, instead I’m going to give you a sneak peek of some really swanky photos I took (the rest will be going to a CBR piece.) I would love to write about my week, because I had one hell of a time at Comic-Con International in San Diego, but it is exactly because of this that I have no time.
Revolution is the universal rule of evolution. Revolution is a universal principle of the world. Revolution is the essence of the struggle for survival or destruction in a time of transition. Revolution submits to heaven and responds to men’s needs. Revolution rejects what is corrupt and keeps the good. Revolution is the advance from barbarism to civilization. Revolution turns slaves into masters. (Zou Rong, from The Revolutionary Army)
It being just a couple of days after Independence Day and (by strange coincidence) the bulk of my friends birthdays, I’m sharing my gift list of independent comic books (as well as the weird types of people I matched up to those books.) People with a vague interest in comic books often come to me asking for recommendations so maybe this list will be useful to you in your future gift giving.
Hey, look at that! I’m back in Arizona and I picked up almost two months’ worth of comics! Yeah, I’m not going to review them properly here – that would take waaaaaaaay too long. This is more of a “What I bought and the random thoughts I have about the issues and, why not, what I did in Pennsylvania for seven-and-a-half weeks.” Can you handle that??????
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A young girl, a frailty, simple and true, who had been unable to stand up from the piano and had had to be carried; a girl half his age; a girl who could not shoot a gun, had never been in an oyster house, atop a tower, or under the wharves; a girl hotter always than noon in August; a girl who knew nothing; had thrown him so hard that he would be out of breath forever. (Mark Helprin, from Winter’s Tale)
“… No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the lifesensation of any given epoch of one’s existence – that which makes its truth, its meaning – its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream – alone …” (Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness)
“You remember those birds that were getting sucked into the jet engines? Sometimes I lie in bed at three or four in the morning and I imagine myself flying miles above the earth, very cold, and one of those black secret spy planes is up there with the huge round engines with the spinning blades in it, the blades that look like the underside of mushrooms? The black plane’s going very fast and I’m going very fast in the opposite direction and we intersect, and I fly right through one of those jet engines, and I exit as this long fog of blood. I’m miles long, and, because it’s so cold, I’m crystalline. Very long arms, you’ll be pleased to hear. And then I recondense in bed, sshhp, as my short warm self. It must have something to do with my estrogen level. But that’s what telephone travel would be like out there, I think. What am I saying, that’s what it is like.” (Nicholson Baker, from Vox)
“Bonding is like the romance in an Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie.”
If it happens along the way, fine.”
But it ain’t the reason you go there.” (Bruce Feirstein, from Real Men Don’t Bond)
Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead. (Raymond Chandler, from The Big Sleep)
“It never occurs to you that the beautiful princess and the wicked old witch believe exactly the same thing: Anything at all, including cunning and lies, will work for the beautiful; nothing helps the ugly.” (John Gardner, from Freddy’s Book)
I have always pitied poor Abraham. Here he had the sword from his sheath, only seconds away from slitting his son’s throat, and he had to sacrific a ram in his son’s place. What a disappointment it must have been. What a damn tragedy. (Jeremy Leven, from Creator)
That woman was the closest thing to himself Achilles had ever come across. But he didn’t find out until a moment after he had killed her. She was hostile, and dead: everything Achilles loved in a woman. (Roberto Calasso, from The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony)
You stay in prison, what your time calls duty, honor, self-respect, and you are comfortably safe. Or you are free and crucified. Your only companions the stones, the thorns, the turning backs; the silence of cities, and their hate. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)