Excerpt from the book

Excerpt from Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer

There was still more wind than snow, but in Lonoff’s orchard the light had all but seeped away, and the sound of what was on its way was menacing. Two dozen wild old apple trees stood as first barrier between the bleak unpaved road and the farmhouse. Next came a thick green growth of rhododendron, then a wide stone wall fallen in like a worn molar at the center, then some fifty feet of snow-crusted lawn, and finally, drawn up close to the house and protectively overhanging the shingles, three maples that looked from their size to be as old as New England. In back, the hosue gave way to unprotected fields, drifted over since the first December blizzards. From there the wooded hills began their impressive rise, undulating forest swells that just kept climbing into the next state. My guess was that it would take even the fiercest Hun the better part of a winter to cross the glacial waterfalls and wind-blasted woods of those mountain wilds before he was able to reach the open edge of Lonoff’s hayfields, rush the rear storm door of the house, crash through into the study, and, with spiked bludgeon wheeling high in the air above the little Olivetti, cry out in a roaring voice to the writer tapping out his twenty-seventh draft, “You must change your life!”

Excerpt from J.R. Ackerley’s My Father and Myself

The discovery of my father’s duplicity gave me, I suppose, something of a jolt, not severe to a mind as self-centered as mine, but a jolt which gradually intrigued and then engaged my thought more and more as the years passed. It was the kind of shock that people must receive when some old friend, who has just spent with them an apparently normal evening, goes home and puts his head in the gas oven. The shock, after the shock of death, is the shock to complacency, to self-confidence: the old friend was a stranger after all, and where lay the fault in communication? My relationship with my father was in ruins; I had known nothing about him at all.


“A famous doctor in Vienna called Dr. Froyd”:
Excerpt from Lorelei’s Diary in Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

May 27:

Lorelei baffles Dr. Froyd

Well finaly I broke down and Mr. Spoffard said that he thought a little girl like I, who was trying to reform the whole world was trying to do to much, especially beginning on a girl like Dorothy. So he said there was a famous doctor in Vienna called Dr. Froyd who could stop all of my worrying because he does not give a girl medicine but he talks you out of it by psychoanalysis. So yesterday he took me to Dr. Froyd. So Dr. Froyd and I had quite a long talk in the English landguage. So it seems that everybody seems to have a thing called inhibitions, which is when you want to do a thing and you do not do it. So then you dream about it instead. So Dr. Froyd asked me, what I seemed to dream about. So I told him that I never really dream about anything. I mean I use my brains so much in the day time that at night they do not seem to do anything else but rest.  So Dr. Froyd was very very surprised at a girl who did not dream about anything.  So then he asked me all about my life. I mean he is very very sympathetic, and he seems to know how to draw a girl out quite a lot. I mean I told him things that I really would not even put in my diary. So then he seemed very very intreeged at a girl who always seemed to do everything she wanted to do. So he asked me if I really never wanted to do a thing that I did not do. For instance, did I ever want to do a thing that was really vialent, for instance, did I ever want to shoot someone for instance. So then I said I had, but the bullet only went in Mr. Jennings lung and came right out again. So then Dr. Froyd looked at me and looked at me and he said he did not really think it was possible.  So then he called in his assistance and he pointed at me and talked to his assistance quite a lot in the Viennese landguage.  So then his assistance looked at me and looked at me and it really seems as if I was quite a famous case. So then Dr. Froyd said that all I need was to cultivate a few inhibitions and get some sleep.


“I am no more mad than is this man”:  Excerpt from Janet Lewis’s The Wife of Martin Guerre

Through the summer, little by little the shadow increased in the mind of Bertrande. In vain did she contend with it. In a thousand small ways her suspicion was strengthened, in ways so small that she was ashamed to mention them. She thought of speaking of the matter in confession, but checked herself, saying:

“The priest will think me mad.”  She did not say, “Or worse, he will find a way to prove that which I only suspect.”

But this was in her mind, and day after day she turned aside, she doubled her tracks, like a pursued creature, trying to avoid the realization which she knew was waiting for her. But as time went on she found herself more and more surely faced with the obligation of admitting herself to be hopelessly insane or of confessing that she was consciously accepting as her husband a man whom she believed to be an imposter. If the choice had lain within her power she would undoubtedly have chosen to be mad. For days and weeks she turned aside, as in a fever, from what she felt to be the truth, declaring to her distracted soul that she was defending the safety of her children, of her household, from Uncle Pierre down to the smallest shepherd, and then at last, one morning as she was seated alone, spinning, the truth presented itself finally, coldly, inescapably.

“I am no more mad than is this man. I am imposed upon, deceived, betrayed into adultery, but not mad.”

The spindle dropped to the floor, the distaff fell across her knees, and though she sat like a woman turned into stone and felt her heart freezing slowly in her bosom, the air which entered her nostrils seemed to her more pure than any she had breathed in years, and the fever seemed to have left her body.


From William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow:

Giacometti’s “Palace at 4 a.m.” (Photo: Antonio Villar Liñán)

“When, wandering around through the Museum of Modern Art, I come upon the piece of sculpture by Alberto Giacometti with the title ‘Palace at 4 a.m.,’ I always stand back and look at it – partly because it reminds me of my father’s new house in its unfinished state and partly because it is so beautiful. It is about thirty inches high and sufficiently well known that I probably don’t need to describe it.  But anyway, it is made of wood, and there are no solid walls, only thin uprights and horizontal beams.  There is the suggestion of a classic pediment and of a tower.  Flying around in a room at the top of the palace there is a queer-looking creature with the head of a monkey wrench.  A bird?  a cross between a male ballet dancer and a pterodactyl?  Below it, in a kind of freestanding closet, the backbone of some animal.  To the left, backed by three off-white parallelograms, what could be an imposing female figure or one of the more important pieces of a chess set.  And, in about the position a basketball ring would occupy, a vertical, hollowed-out spatulate shape with a ball in front of it. …

“I seem to remember that I went to the new house one winter day and saw snow descending through the attic to the upstairs bedrooms.  It could also be that I never did any such thing, for I am fairly certain that in a snapshot album I have lost track of there was a picture of the house taken in the circumstances I have just described, and it is possible that I am remembering that rather than an actual experience.  What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory – meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion – is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling.  Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end.  In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”


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