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Best Excerpt In A Novel

Cigdem Göle

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"And what do you want of me", she challenged.


Her eyes, wide and large and wondering, watched him and asked him the ultimate question.

"I came because I must", he said. "Why do you ask?"

She looked at him in doubt and wonder.

"I must ask", she said.

He shook his head slightly.

"There is no answer", he replied, with strange vacancy.


"But why did you come to me?" she persisted

"Because - it has to be so. If there weren't you in the world, then I shouldn't be in the world, either."

She stood looking at him, with large, wide, wondering, stricken eyes. His eyes were looking steadily into hers all the time, and he seemed fixed in an odd

supernatural steadfastness. She sighed. She was lost now. She had no choice.

-------- Women In Love - D.H. Lawrence (Chapter XXIV, Death and Love)

Edited by Cigdem Eksi
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  • 4 weeks later...
What is most original in a man's nature is often that which is most desperate. Thus new systems are forced on the world by men who simply cannot bear the pain of what is. Creators care nothing for their systems except that they be unique. If Hitler had been born in Nazi Germany he wouldn't have been content to enjoy the atmosphere.
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
-Good afternoon. I’m a missionary for the Jehovah’s Witness Church. says the woman with the sunlit halo, a serene smile now evident as she mistakes my vacant stare for perspicacity.

-Nobody’s perfect. I reply softly, before closing the door to salvation.

The Justification Waltz by Joe Darcy
John Stanton called Cuba a potential Agency hotspot. He said, I might have work for you.
American Tabloid by James Elroy
8:05 AM

The tomato juice is red, but the vodka is clear.

Death's Diary by Nash Binkin
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The end of "The Great Gatsby":

Gatsby’s house was still empty when I left—the grass on his lawn had grown as long as mine. One of the taxi drivers in the village never took a fare past the entrance gate without stopping for a minute and pointing inside; perhaps it was he who drove Daisy and Gatsby over to East Egg the night of the accident, and perhaps he had made a story about it all his own. I didn’t want to hear it and I avoided him when I got off the train.

I spent my Saturday nights in New York because those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down his drive. One night I did hear a material car there, and saw its lights stop at his front steps. But I didn’t investigate. Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn’t know that the party was over.

On the last night, with my trunk packed and my car sold to the grocer, I went over and looked at that huge incoherent failure of a house once more. On the white steps an obscene word, scrawled by some boy with a piece of brick, stood out clearly in the moonlight, and I erased it, drawing my shoe raspingly along the stone. Then I wandered down to the beach and sprawled out on the sand.

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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From the final paragraph of In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, by James Lee Burke.

I used this passage to conclude my eulogy for George Michael Evica.

“Down the canyon, smoke from meat fires drifted through the cedar and mesquite trees, and if I squinted my eyes in the sun’s setting, I could almost pretend that Spanish soldiers in silver chest armor and bladed helmets or a long-dead race of hunters were encamped on those hillsides. Or maybe even old compatriots in butternut brown wending their way in and out of history – gallant, Arthurian, their canister-ripped colors unfurled in the roiling smoke, the fatal light in their faces a reminder that the contest is never quite over, the field never quite ours.”

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The last section of 1984 is also very good:

Uncalled, a memory floated into his mind. He saw a candle-lit room with a vast white-counterpaned bed, and himself, a boy of nine or ten, sitting on the floor, shaking a dice-box, and laughing excitedly. His mother was sitting opposite him and also laughing.

It must have been about a month before she disappeared. It was a moment of reconciliation, when the nagging hunger in his belly was forgotten and his earlier affection for her had temporarily revived. He remembered the day well, a pelting, drenching day when the water streamed down the window-pane and the light indoors was too dull to read by. The boredom of the two children in the dark, cramped bedroom became unbearable. Winston whined and grizzled, made futile demands for food, fretted about the room pulling everything out of place and kicking the wainscoting until the neighbours banged on the wall, while the younger child wailed intermittently. In the end his mother said, 'Now be good, and I'Il buy you a toy. A lovely toy -- you'll love it'; and then she had gone out in the rain, to a little general shop which was still sporadically open nearby, and came back with a cardboard box containing an outfit of Snakes and Ladders. He could still remember the smell of the damp cardboard. It was a miserable outfit. The board was cracked and the tiny wooden dice were so ill-cut that they would hardly lie on their sides. Winston looked at the thing sulkily and without interest. But then his mother lit a piece of candle and they sat down on the floor to play. Soon he was wildly excited and shouting with laughter as the tiddly-winks climbed hopefully up the ladders and then came slithering down the snakes again, almost to the starting-point. They played eight games, winning four each. His tiny sister, too young to understand what the game was about, had sat propped up against a bolster, laughing because the others were laughing. For a whole afternoon they had all been happy together, as in his earlier childhood.

He pushed the picture out of his mind. It was a false memory. He was troubled by false memories occasionally. They did not matter so long as one knew them for what they were. Some things had happened, others had not happened. He turned back to the chessboard and picked up the white knight again. Almost in the same instant it dropped on to the board with a clatter. He had started as though a pin had run into him.

A shrill trumpet-call had pierced the air. It was the bulletin! Victory! It always meant victory when a trumpet-call preceded the news. A sort of electric drill ran through the cafe. Even the waiters had started and pricked up their ears.

The trumpet-call had let loose an enormous volume of noise. Already an excited voice was gabbling from the telescreen, but even as it started it was almost drowned by a roar of cheering from outside. The news had run round the streets like magic. He could hear just enough of what was issuing from the telescreen to realize that it had all happened, as he had foreseen; a vast seaborne armada had secretly assembled a sudden blow in the enemy's rear, the white arrow tearing across the tail of the black. Fragments of triumphant phrases pushed themselves through the din: 'Vast strategic manoeuvre -- perfect co-ordination -- utter rout -- half a million prisoners -- complete demoralization -- control of the whole of Africa -- bring the war within measurable distance of its end victory -- greatest victory in human history -- victory, victory, victory!'

Under the table Winston's feet made convulsive movements. He had not stirred from his seat, but in his mind he was running, swiftly running, he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself deaf. He looked up again at the portrait of Big Brother. The colossus that bestrode the world! The rock against which the hordes of Asia dashed themselves in vain! He thought how ten minutes ago -- yes, only ten minutes -- there had still been equivocation in his heart as he wondered whether the news from the front would be of victory or defeat. Ah, it was more than a Eurasian army that had perished! Much had changed in him since that first day in the Ministry of Love, but the final, indispensable, healing change had never happened, until this moment.

The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outside had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The longhoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

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  • 3 months later...

from Paradise by Toni Morrison

In the good clean darkness of the cellar, Consolata woke to the wrenching disappointment of not having died the night before. Each morning, her hopes dashed, she lay on a cot belowground, repelled by her sluglike existence, each hour of which she managed to get through by sipping from black bottles with handsome names. Each night she sank into sleep determined it would be the final one, and hoped that a great hovering foot would descend and crush her like a garden pest.

Already in a space tight enough for a coffin, already devoted to the dark, long removed from appetites, craving only for oblivion, she struggled to understand the delay.

Consolata p.221

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The Fate of A Man by Michail Sholokhov, Closing

Two orphans, two grains of sand swept into strange parts by the tremendous hurricane of war... What did the future hold for them? I wanted to believe that this Russian, this man of unbreakable will, would stick it out, and that the boy would grow at his father's side into a man who could endure anything, overcome any obstacle if his country called upon him to do so.

I felt sad as I watched them go. Perhaps all would have been well at our parting if Vanya after going a few paces had not twisted round on his stumpy legs and waved to me with his little rosy hand. And suddenly a soft but taloned paw seemed to grip my heart, and I turned hastily away. No, not only in their sleep do they weep, these elderly men whose hair turned gray in the years of war. They weep, too, in their waking hours. The main thing is to be able to turn away in time. The main thing is not to wound a child's heart, not to let him see that dry, burning tear on the cheek of a man.

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And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens . . . they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present . . .

In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You--only you--will have stars that can laugh!

And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh!' And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you . . .

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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When age fell upon the world,and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of Spring's flowering meads; when learning stripped the Earth of her mantle of beauty and poets sang no more of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward looking eyes; when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone forever, there was a man who traveled out of life on a quest into spaces whither the world's dreams had fled.

Azathoth - (the eternal) H.P. Lovecraft

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  • 2 weeks later...

A Confederacy of Dunces

by John Kennedy Toole


In New Orleans Jail. Black dude to old man arrested for disturbing the peace on the street.

"'Sure.' A new cloud floated up. 'How come you here, man?' "'I don't know.' "'You don know? Whoa! That crazy. You gotta be here for something. Plenty time they pickin up color peoples for nothing, but mister, you gotta be here for something.'

"'I really don't know,' the old man said glumly. 'I was just standing in a crowd in front of D. H. Holmes.' "'And you lif somebody wallet.' "'No, I called a policeman a name.' "'Like wha you callin him?' "'Communiss.'

"'Cawmuniss! Ooo-woo. If I call a po-lice cawmniss, my ass be in Angola right now for sure. I like to call one of them mother a cawmniss, though. Like this afternoon I standing around in Woolsworth and some cat steal a bag of cashew nuts out the 'Nut House' star streamin like she been stab.....

It is my contention, that John Kennedy Toole, who grew up in the same New Orleans neighborhood as Lee Harvey Oswald, created the opening scene of disturbing of the peace arrest is based on Oswald's arrest, which occured at a different location (World Trade Mart) but he had previously distributed the same leaflets in front of this locally famous department store, D.H. Holmes.

There's also characters in the novel/play that relate to real people in the JFK case, ie. Mancuso, and the black bar keep (ie. Ruby's man Armstrong), and even Toole's mother carrying on his legacy after his death, like Oswald's mom.

The whole story of JKT is a sad one, but the book is really funny if you get into it.

Bill Kelly


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Call me hyper-focused but here are my choices:

"The older guests who shook hands with the Iselins that night had been followers of Father Coughiin; the group just younger than them had rallied around Gerald L. K. Smith; and the rest, still younger, were fringe lice who saw Johnny's significance in a clear, white light. The clan had turned out from ten thousand yesterdays in the Middle West and neolithic Texas, and patriotism was far from being their last refuge. It was a group for anthropologists, and it seemed like very bad manners or very bad judgement on Raymond's mother's part to have invited Senator Jordan to walk among the likes of these."

"Raymond's boss Holborn Gaines, dropped everything (a beer bottle and a report from the Manila office) and rushed to the hospital to see if there was anything he could do to help. The desk attendant, a Soviet Army Lieutenant, upon studying his credentials and checking them against a list of Raymond's probable and therefore accredited visitors, sent him to the fifth floor just as though it were not a sealed floor. He was met at the elevator by a rugged Army nurse who was wearing the traditional cap worn by graduates of the Mother Cabrini Hospital of Winstead, Connecticut where she had never studied but which gave the establishment a certain amount of professional verisimilitude. ... Gaines left a bottle of Scotch for Raymond with the pretty young nurse (five feet tall, 173 pounds, mustache, warts)."

- Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate

Edited by John Bevilaqua
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For anyone unfamiliar with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, these excerpts are from The Autumn of the Patriarch, a satire of a Latin American dictator who never seems to die. Translation by Gregory Rabassa

* Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967.

Is this one about United Fruit and the Dulles brothers? Plus John M. Cabot?

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"Don't talk to me about her, John, I told you not to go near her, she is not worthy of notice.

I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with her."

Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly, and without at all deliberating on my words-

"They are not fit to associate with me."

Mrs Reed was rather a stout woman; but, on hearing this strange and audacious declaration, she

ran nimbly up the stair, swept me like a whirlwind into the nursery, and crushing me down on the

edge of my crib, dared me in an emphatic voice to rise from that place, or utter one syllable, during

the remainder of the day.

"What would Uncle Reed say to you, if he were alive?" was my scarcely voluntary demand. I say

scarcely voluntary, for it seemed as if my tongue pronounced words without my will consenting

to their utterance, something spoke out of me over which I had no control.

"What?" said Mrs Reed under her breath, her usually cold, composed gray eye became troubled

with a look of fear; she took her hand from my arm, and gazed at me as if she really did not know

whether I were child or fiend. I was now in for it.

"My Uncle Reed is in heaven, and can see all you do and think; and so can papa and mamma,

they know how you shut me up all day long, and how you wish me dead."

Mrs Reed soon rallied her spirits; she shook me most soundly, she boxed both my ears, and then left

me without a word. Bessie supplied the hiatus by a homily of an hour's length, in which she

proved beyond a doubt that I was the most wicked and abandoned child ever reared under a roof.

Jane Eyre

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"There is a dream, a picture that for years at intervals (sometimes quite long ones, but surely again, in time) has come noiselessly up before me, and I really believe, fiction as it is, has enter'd largely into my practical life - certainly into my writings, and shaped and color'd them."

"The dream is nothing more or less than a stretch of interminable white-brown sand, hard and smooth and broad, with the ocean perpetually, grandly, rolling in upon it, with slow-measured sweep, with rustle and hiss and foam, and many a thump as of low brass drums. This scene, this picture, I say, has risen before me at times for years. Sometimes I wake at night and can hear and see it plainly."

"....Elements merge in the night ... ships make tacks in dreams ... the sailor sails ... the exile returns home, the Fugitive returns unharmed, the immigrant is back beyond months and years; the poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his childhood, with well known neighbors and faces. They warmly welcome him .... he is barefoot again ... he forgets he is well off."

- W. W.

"New York, Brooklyn, New Orleans and Washington - They are my cities of romance. They are the cities of things begun - Camden is the city of things finished."

"Pensive and faltering

The words the Dead I write,

For living are the Dead...

dully return to you...."

- W.W.

For more See:


Walt Whitman

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  • 2 months later...

This little excerpt from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow inspired the title of my own novel The Unreals:

"Look on it as an optimization problem. The country can best support only one of each.

Q: The what about all the others? Boston. London. The ones who live in cities. Are those people real, or what?

A: Some are real, and some aren't.

Q: Well are the real ones necessary? or unnecessary?

A: It depends what you have in mind.

Q: xxxx, I don't have anything in mind.

A: We do."

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