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  1. dushechka
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    dushechka Contributing Member

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    Favourite Excerpts

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by dushechka, Jul 28, 2007.

    I thought it'd be interesting to see what book passages/excerpts made the biggest impressions on different writers. : )


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    My current favourite - Johnny Got His Gun.

    As far as the page numbers go, I typed this out a really long time ago and I forgot to write them down.. I used the spoiler tags because it's insanely long. : p

    Lying on your back without anything to do and anywhere to go was kind of like being on a high hill far away from noise and people. It was like being on a camping trip all by yourself. You had plenty of time to think. You had time to figure things out. Things you’d never thought of before. Things like for example going to war. You were so completely alone on your hill that noise and people didn’t enter into your figuring of things at all. You figured only for yourself without considering a single little thing outside yourself. It seemed that you thought clearer and that your answers made more sense. And even if they didn’t make sense it didn’t matter because you weren’t ever going to be able to do anything about them anyhow.

    He thought here you are Joe Bonham lying like a side of beef all the rest of your life and for what? Somebody tapped you on the shoulder and said come along son we’re going to war. So you went. But why? In any other deal even like buying a car or running an errand you had the right to say what’s there in it for me? Otherwise you’d be buying bad cars for too much money or running errands for fools and starving to death. It was a kind of duty you owed yourself that when anybody said come on son do this or do that you should stand up and say look mister why should I do this for who am I doing it and what am I going to get out of it in the end? But when a guy comes along and says here come with me and risk your life and maybe die or be crippled why then you’ve got no rights. You haven’t even the right to say yes or no or I’ll think it over. There are plenty of laws to protect guys’ money even in war time but there’s nothing on the books says a man’s life’s his own.

    Of course a lot of guys were ashamed. Somebody said let’s go out and fight for liberty and so they went and got killed without ever once thinking about liberty. And what kind of liberty were they fighting for anyway? How much liberty and whose idea of liberty? Were they fighting for the liberty of eating free ice cream cones all their lives or for the liberty of robbing anybody they pleased whenever they wanted to or what? You tell a man he can’t rob and you take away some of his liberty. You’ve got to. What the hell does liberty mean anyhow? It’s just a word like house or table or any other word. Only it’s a special kind of word. A guy says house and he can point to a house to prove it. But a guy says come on let’s fight for liberty and he can’t show you liberty. He can’t prove the thing he’s talking about so how in the hell can he be telling you to fight for it?

    No sir anybody who went out and got into the front line trenches to fight for liberty was a goddamn fool and the guy who got him there was a liar. Next time anybody came gabbling to him about liberty--what did he meant next time? There wasn’t going to be any next time for him. But the hell with that. If there could be a next time and somebody said let’s fight for liberty he would say mister my life is important. I’m not a fool and when I swap my life for liberty I’ve got to know in advance what liberty is and whose idea of liberty we’re talking about and just how much of that liberty we’re going to have. And what’s more mister are you as much interested in this liberty as you want me to be? And maybe too much liberty will be as bad as too little liberty and I think you’re a goddam fourflusher talking through your hat and I’ve already decided that I like the liberty I’ve got right here the liberty to walk and see and hear and talk and eat and sleep with my girl. I think I like that liberty better than fighting for a lot of things we won’t get and ending up without any liberty at all. Ending up dead and rotting before my life is even begun good or ending up like a side of beef. Thank you mister. You fight for liberty. Me I don’t care for some.

    Hell’s fire guys had always been fighting for liberty. America fought a way for liberty in 1776. Lots of guys died. And in the end does America have any more liberty than Canada or Australia who didn’t fight at all? Maybe so I’m not arguing I’m just asking. Can you look at a guy and say he’s an American who fought for his liberty and anybody can see he’s a very different guy from a Canadian who didn’t? No by god you can’t and that’s that. So maybe a lot of guys with wives and kids died in 1776 when they didn’t need to die at all. They’re dead now anyway. Sure but that doesn’t do any good. A guy can think of being dead a hundred years from now and he doesn’t mind it. But to think of being dead tomorrow morning and to be dead forever to be nothing but dust and stink in the earth is that liberty?

    They were always fighting for something the bastards and if anyone dared say the hell with fighting it’s all the same each war is like the other and nobody gets any good out of it why they hollered coward. If they weren’t fighting for liberty they were fighting for independence or democracy or freedom or decency or honor or their native land or something else that didn’t mean anything. The war was to make the world safe for democracy for the little countries for everybody. If the war was over now then the world must be all safe for democracy. Was it? And what kind of democracy? And how much? And whose?

    Then there was this freedom the little guys were always getting killed for. Was it freedom from another country? Freedom from work or disease or death? Freedom from your mother-in-law? Please mister give us a bill of sale on this freedom before we go out and get killed. Give us a bill of sale drawn up plainly so we know in advance what we’re getting killed for and give us also a first mortgage on something as security so we can be sure after we’ve won your war that we’ve got the same kind of freedom we bargained for.

    And take decency. Everybody said America was fighting a war for the triumph of decency. But whose idea of decency? And decency for who? Speak up and tell us what decency is. Tell us how much better a decent dead man feels than an indecent live one. Make a comparison there in facts like houses and tables. Make it in words we can understand. And don’t talk about honor. The honor of a Chinese or an Englishman or an African negro or an American or a Mexican? Please all you guys who want to fight to preserve our honor let us know what the hell honor is. Is it American honor for the whole world we’re fighting for? Maybe the world doesn’t like it. Maybe the South Sea Islanders like their honor better.

    For Christ sake give us things to fight for we can see and feel and pin down and understand. No more highfalutin words that mean nothing like native land. Motherland fatherland homeland native land. It’s all the same. What the hell good to you is your native land after you’re dead? Whose native land is it after you’re dead? If you get killed fighting for your native land you’ve bought a pig in a poke. You’ve paid for something you’ll never collect.

    And when they couldn’t hook the little guys into fighting for liberty or freedom or democracy or independence or decency or honor they tried the women. Look at the dirty Huns they would say look at them how they rape the beautiful French and Belgian girls. Somebody’s got to stop all that raping. So come on little guy join the army and save the beautiful French and Belgian girls. So the little guy got bewildered and he signed up and in a little while a shell hit him and his life spattered out of him in red meat pulp and he was dead. Dead for another word and all the fierce old bats of the D.A.R. get out and hurrah themselves hoarse over his grave because he died for womanhood.

    Now it might be that a guy would risk getting killed if his women were being raped. But if he did why he was only striking a bargain. He was simply saying that according to the way he felt at the time the safety of his women was worth more than his own life. But there wasn’t anything particularly noble or heroic about it. It was a straight deal his life for something he valued more. It was more or less like any other deal a man might make. But when you change your women to all the women in the world why you begin to defend women in the bulk. To do that you have to fight in the bulk. And by that time you’re fighting for a word again.

    When armies begin to move and flags wave and slogans pop up watch out little guy because it’s somebody else’s chestnuts in the fire not yours. It’s words you’re fighting for and you’re not making an honest deal your life for something better. You’re being noble and after you’re killed the thing you traded your life for won’t do you any good and chances are it won’t do anybody else any good either.

    Maybe that’s a bad way to think. There are lots of idealists around who will say have we got so low that nothing is more precious than life? Surely there are ideals worth fighting for even dying for. If not then we are worse than the beasts of the filed and have sunk into barbarity. Then you say that’s all right let’s be barbarous just so long as we don’t have war. You keep your ideals just as long as they don’t cost me my life. And they say but surely life isn’t as important as principle. Then you say oh no? Maybe not yours but mine is. What the hell is principle? Name it and you can have it.

    You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. YOu can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and legislatures and congresses. That’s their business. THey sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. THis ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.

    Hmmmm.

    But what do the dead say?

    Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I’m glad I died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say I like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it’s good to think I got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me I’m dead but I died for decency and that’s better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here I am I’ve been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it’s wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I’m happy see how I sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?

    Nobody but the dead know whether all these things people talk about are wroth dying for or not. And the dead can’t talk. So the words about noble deaths and sacred blood and honor and such are all put into dead lips by grave robbers and fakes who have no right to speak for the dead. If a man says death before dishonor he is either a fool or a liar because he doesn’t know what death is. He isn’t able to judge. He only knows about living. He doesn’t know anything about dying. If he is a fool and believes in death before dishonor let him go ahead and die. But all the little guys who are too busy to fight should be left alone. And all the guys who say death before dishonor is pure bull the important thing is life before death they should be left alone too. Because the guys who say life isn’t worth living without some principle so important you’re willing to die for it they are all nuts. And the guys who say you’ll see there’ll come a time you can’t escape you’re going to have to fight and die because it’ll mean your very life why they are also nuts. THey are talking like fools. They are saying that two and two make nothing. They are saying that a man will have to die in order to protect his life. If you agree to fight you agree to die. Now if you die to protect your life you aren’t alive anyhow so how is there any sense in a thing like that? A man doesn’t say I will starve myself to death to keep from starving. He doesn’t say I will spend all my money in order to save my money. He doesn’t say I will burn my house down in order to keep it from burning. Why then should he be willing to die for the privilege of living? There ought to be at least as much common sense about living and dying as there is about going to the grocery store and buying a loaf of bread.

    And all the guys who died all the five million or seven million or ten million who went out and died to make the world safe for democracy to make the world safe for words without meaning how did they feel about it just before they died? How did they feel as they watched their blood pump out into the mud? How did they feel when the gas hit their lungs and began eating them all away? How did they feel as they lay crazed in hospitals and looked death straight in the face and saw him come and take them? If the thing they were fighting for was important enough to die for then it was also important enough for them to be thinking about it in the last minutes of their lives. That stood to reason. Life is awfully important so if you’ve given it away you’d ought to think with all your mind in the last moments of your life about the thing you traded it for. So did all those kids die thinking of democracy and freedom and liberty and honor and the safety of the home and the stars and the stripes forever?
    You’re goddam right they didn’t.
    They died crying in their minds like little babies. They forgot the thing they were fighting for the thing they were dying for. They thought about things a man can understand. They died yearning for the face of a friend. They died whimpering for the voice of a mother a father a wife a child. They died with their hearts sick for one more look at the place where they were born please god just one more look. They died moaning and sighing for life. They knew what was important. They knew that life was everything and they died with screams and sobs. They died with only one thought in their minds and that was I want to live I want to live I want to live.
    He ought to know.
    He was the nearest thing to a dead man on earth.
     
  2. Isis
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    Isis Senior Member

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    Sam's monolouge from American Gods:

     
  3. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Hey!
    You stole what I was gonna do.... ;-;
    (Isis, not Duschechka)
     
  4. dushechka
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    dushechka Contributing Member

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    I have a new favorite -


    Pages 143 - 144 - The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

    --


    “…If I found a job, a project, an idea or a person I wanted-I’d have to depend on the whole world. Everything has strings leading to everything else. We’re all so tied together. We’re all in a net, the net is waiting, and we’re pushed into it by one single desire. You want a thing and it’s precious to you. Do you know who is standing ready to tear it out of your hands? You can’t know, it may be so involved and so far away, but someone is ready, and you’re afraid of them all. And you cringe and you crawl and you beg and you accept them-just so they’ll let you keep it. And look at whom you come to accept.”[…]

    “But hell! That’s not the way to look at it. That’s not the whole picture. There’s some good in the worst of us. There’s always a redeeming feature.[…] What do you want? Perfection?”

    “—or nothing. So, you see, I take the nothing.”

    “That doesn’t make sense.”

    “I take the only desire one can really permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah, freedom.”

    “You call that freedom?”

    “To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”

    “What if you found something you wanted?”

    “I won’t find it. I won’t choose to see it. It would be part of that lovely world of yours. I’d have to share it with all the rest of you-and I wouldn’t. You know, I never open again any great book I’ve read and loved. It hurts me to think of the other eyes that have read it and of what they were. Things like that can’t be shared. Not with people like that.”
     
  5. Steak-Ums
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    Steak-Ums Member

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    I feel very childish all of a sudden...

    Anyone ever read the DiscWorld series? Even heard of it? You should really read it:)

    DiscWorld by Terry Pratchett

    Some good quotes:


    "I meant," said Iplsore bitterly, "what is there in this world that makes living worthwhile?" Death thought about it. "CATS," he said eventually, "CATS ARE NICE."


    No enemies had ever taken Ankh-Morpock. Well technically they had, quite often; the city welcomed free-spending barbarian invaders, but somehow the puzzled raiders found, after a few days, that they didn't own their horses any more, and within a couple of months they were just another minority group with its own graffiti and food shops.

    As Mort scrambled behind the ornate silver saddle Death leaned down and shook Lezek’s hand.

    THANK YOU, he said.

    ‘He’s a good lad at heart,’ said Lezek. ‘A bit dreamy, that’s all. I suppose we were all young once.’

    Death considered this.

    NO, he said, I DON'T THINK SO.

    The Four Horsemen whose Ride presages the end of the world are known to be Death, War, Famine and Pestilence. But even less significant events have their own Horsemen. For example, the Four Horsemen of the Common Cold are Sniffles, Chesty, Nostril and Lack of Tissues; the Four Horsemen whose appearance foreshadows any public holiday are Storm, Gales, Sleet and Contra-flow.

    Sorry the stuff is so freakin funny..just one more:

    Of course, Ankh-Morpork's citizens had always claimed that the river water was incredibly pure. Any water that had passed through so many kidneys, they reasoned, had to be very pure indeed.
     
  6. MarcG
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    MarcG Contributing Member

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    The only two I really remember enough to quote are from Demons by Dostoevsky.

    (Kirillov, while writing his suicide note)
    "Wait! I want a face at the top with its tongue sticking out."

    (Varvara Petrovna talking to Sofya after Stepan became ill)
    "He was telling for a long time about some black-haired noble lady, ma'am." Sofya blushed terribly, incidentally noticing Varvara's fair hair and her total lack of resemblance to the "brunette".

    "Black haired? What, precisely, speak!"

    "How this noble lady was very much in love with him, ma'am, all her life, a whole twenty years; but she didn't dare open her heart and was ashamed before him, because she was very portly, ma'am..."

    "Fool!" Varvara snapped out, pensively but resolutely.

    (Varvara happened to be this "brunette")

    I seriously laughed for well over a minute when I read this 2nd one...
     
  7. Eoz Eanj
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    Eoz Eanj Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not my most favourite excerpt but an excerpt from one of the books of my favourite series:


    The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4


    Chapter One
    Thursday January 1st
    BANE HOLIDAY IN ENGLAND,
    IRELAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES


    These are my New Year's resolutions:

    I will help the blind across the road.
    I will hang my trousers up.
    I will put the sleeves back on my records.
    I will not start smoking.
    I will stop squeezing my spots.
    I will be kind to the dog.
    I will help the poor and ignorant.


    After hearing the disgusting noises from downstairs last night, I have also vowed never to drink alcohol.

    My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. If the RSPCA hear about it he could get done. Eight days have gone by since Christmas Day but my mother still hasn't worn the green lurex apron I bought her for Christmas! She will get bathcubes next year.

    Just my luck, I've got a spot on my chin for the first day of the New Year!

    Friday January 2nd
    BANK HOLIDAY IN SCOTLAND. FULL MOON


    I felt rotten today. It's my mother's fault for singing "My Way" at two o'clock in the morning at the top of the stairs. Just my luck to have a mother like her. There is a chance my parents could be alcoholics. Next year I could be in a children's home.

    The dog got its own back on my father. It jumped up and knocked down his model ship, then ran into the garden with the rigging tangled in its feet. My father kept saying, "Three months' work down the drain," over and over again. The spot on my chin is getting bigger. It's my mother's fault for not knowing about vitamins
     
  8. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here is the excerpt that made me go out and buy a ebook recently. It definately caught my attention.

    Shutterbug
    By: Daniel I. Russel

    Several years after visiting Harry Beacon's Photography Studio and going through a terrifying experience, Jess Stevenson's life is finally working out. With her loving boyfriend, a fun housemate and her father's mental health under control, she can finally forget about the past and move on with her life. Harry Beacon has been jailed for his crime...
    The new terrors start with a photograph.
    Someone wants to make Jess relive the horror of her childhood all over again. As the photographs get more obscene and the nightmares intensify, Jess feels that she's losing her mind, because Harry Beacon is still in prison...isn't he?

    It is a Psychological Thriller Novella. Definately a great read.
     
  9. Lily
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    Lily Member

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    "There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst and drowning." -The Secret Knowledge of Water, Craig Childs.
     

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