all of our names-dinaw mengestu

“No one I met believed I was a revolutionary, and I didn’t have the heart to claim I wanted to be a writer.” (4)

“One paper might have been skimmed a dozen times before someone finally paid half-price to take it home, granting everybody, even the poorest among us, just enough information to take a position, however misinformed.” (88)

“I came for the writers and stayed for the war.” (143)

another one that i have to thank the philly free library podcast for, and yet again casts morality and obligation as the middle ground between love and politics. i just had to turn down a friend who wanted to use the personal work that we’ve been doing over the last few months for a school project, and i know it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow, but i’ve learned from my days of being flattered to be an interviewee-it’s not as glamorous as you may think-and the considerations that i take not to be an asshole as an interviewer are not the norm. my on-camera work has also come up over the weekend in relation to rock climbing, which may once again be in my near future.

“I remember taking him to the post office once so he could mail a letter to his mother. While we stood in line to buy stamps, I asked him what her name was. He looked up as if he no longer knew the answer to that question, or had lost the right to answer it.” (31)

“He said his prayer without any devotion, as if he had either long ago lost his faith or didn’t believe those men were entitled to share it.” (230)

and, just like that-the author expertly slips in stitches of religion and family and native lands to the narrative of identity and our influence in shaping identity for ourselves and others.

“We didn’t know where all the cracks and fault lines between us lay, and so we said little, in order to avoid them. Once we were in the bedroom, we rushed through our clothes. Kissing was an afterthought.” (53)

“I had assumed that passion and speed were the same: the faster you flung and thrust, the more desire; maybe the difference between fucking and making love isn’t just a question of the heart but of the hands as well. Lovers fumble all the time-especially in winter, through all the layers.” (151)

“I kept thinking I had had enough of him, only to realize, before reaching home, that I felt emptier now than before I saw him.” (54)

“Isaac was so much easier to be with when only the ghost of him was around, and I remember thinking that if he were dead or never came back I’d probably learn to care for him more than if he were to walk through the door right then and never leave.” (71)

“He had so much more than my leaving to mourn that I would like to think I slipped away as quietly as possible.” (255)

and finally, the love story. or, the longing story, as it is more that than the former. but isn’t the longing what makes a love story a story? when it’s present and new and forming and fresh, it’s a narrative-it’s not a story until it’s over, or it’s impossible. there has to be some marker of a shift in time before it becomes a story, and a blink before the other stories it overlaps into is visible from the peripheral vision of time and space. this one is as beautiful as it is haunting, and blurry as it shifts from characters through characters, and proves (again) that geography has nothing on the heart.

library used: parkdale
library material not to miss: picture day
duolingo update: translation tier 8 (french) attained

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