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What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

“Imagine forgetting the most important ten years of your life.”

“The problem was that she couldn’t attach herself to a ‘today’ or a ‘yesterday’ or even a last week. She was floating helplessly above the calendar like an escaped balloon.”

“But then again, other times, I walk on to the stage and I feel like there is some weight pressing on the back of my neck, making my head droop and my back hunch, like an old crone. I want to put my mouth close to the microphone and say, ‘What is the point of all this, ladies and gentlemen? You all seem like nice enough people, so help me out and tell me, what is the point?

Actually, I do know the point.

The point is they’re helping pay the mortgage. They’re each making a contribution to our groceries and our electricity and our water and our Visa bill. They’re all generously chipping in for the syringes and the shapeless hospital gowns and that last anaesthetist with the kind, doggy eyes who held my hand and said, ‘Go to sleep now, darling.’ Anyway, I digress. You want me to digress. You want me to just write and write whatever comes to my mind. I wonder if you find me boring. You always look so gently interested, but maybe you have days where I walk in the office looking all needy, bursting to tell you the pathetic details of my life, and you just long to put your elbows on your desk and your chin in your hands and say, ‘What is the point of all this, Elisabeth?’ and then you remember that the point is that I am paying for your Visa bill, mortgage, groceries… and so the world goes round.”

“You mentioned the other day that a feeling of pointlessness is a sign of depression, but you see there, I don’t have depression because I do see a point. Money is the point.”

“Maybe temporary insanity is just an excuse for inexcusable behaviour.”

“I’m too much of a control freak to have other people falling about laughing while they describe my own actions to me.”

“It’s 3.30 a.m. in the morning and sleep feels like something impossible and stupid that only other people do.”


예감은 틀리지 않는다

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes.

“그러나 결국 기억하게 되는 것은, 실제로 본 것과 언제나 똑같지는 않은 법이다
What you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.”

“What did I know of life, I who had lived so carefully? Who had neither won nor lost, but just let life happen to him? Who had the usual ambitions and settled all too quickly for them not being realised? Who avoided being hurt and called it a capacity for survival? Who paid his bills, stayed on good terms with everyone as far as possible, for whom ecstasy and despair soon became just words once read in novels? One whose self-rebukes never really inflicted pain? Well, there was all this to reflect upon, while I endured a special kind of remorse: a hurt inflicted at long last on one who always thought he knew how to avoid being hurt – and inflicted for precisely that reason.”

“But I’ve been turning over in my mind the question of nostalgia, and whether I suffer from it. I certainly don’t get soggy at the memory of some childhood knickknack; nor do I want to deceive myself sentimentally about something that wasn’t even true at the time—love of the old school, and so on. But if nostalgia means the powerful recollection of strong emotions—and a regret that such feelings are no longer present in our lives—then I plead guilty.”

“We live in time – it holds us and molds us – but I never felt I understood it very well. And I’m not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel versions. No, I mean ordinary, everyday time, which clocks and watches assure us passes regularly: tick-tock, click-clock. Is there anything more plausible than a second hand? And yet it takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time’s malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing – until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.”

“When you’re young – when I was young – you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life, create and define a new reality. Later, I think, you want them to do something milder, something more practical: you want them to support your life as it is and has become. You want them to tell you that things are OK. And is there anything wrong with that?”

“Also, when you are young, you think you can predict the likely pains and bleaknesses that age might bring. You imagine yourself being lonely, divorced, widowed; children growing away from you, friends dying. You imagine the loss of status, the loss of desire – and desirability. You may go further and consider your own approaching death, which, despite what company you may muster, can only be faced alone. But all this is looking ahead. What you fail to do is look ahead, and then imagine yourself looking back from the future point. Learning the new emotions that time brings. Discovering, for example, that as the witnesses to your life diminish, there is less corroboration, and therefore less certainty, as to what you are or have been. Even if you have assiduously kept records – in words, sound, pictures – you may find that you have attended to the wrong kind of record-keeping. What was the line Adrian used to quote? ‘History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

“And then there is the question on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it,and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.”

“Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”


Echo – Kate Morgenroth

“At what point did you get over your brother getting his brains blown out so they splattered all over you?”

“I’d rather live in the slums. Because maybe then there would be more ugliness on the outside than on the inside. It wouldn’t be such a lie.”

“When he got into the bathroom, he switched on the light and stood there a moment in front of the sink, staring at himself in the mirror. He did this every morning because his face in the mirror was always a surprise – not because it looked different, but because it looked the same. He kept expecting that because he felt so different on the inside, it would eventually have some effect – cause some sort of change – on the outside. But it was always just the same stupid face.”

“Maybe this was really what it was like; he might feel like he was up on a stage, but maybe the reality was that no one was watching. Maybe everyone else was up on their own stages, everyone acting for empty seats.”

“That’s the hardest thing in the world, to be able to see past your own feelings. But that’s why you didn’t notice it before.”

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