“A local girl wished to announce that she had a litter of kittens to give away and that the kittens’ mother was a good mouser. There was a reminder that the library was always seeking books, and that they paid in wine.” (263)
forever. even in a dystopic novel, the library is the coolest place at the end of the world. at least, this is how this book is classified, and thus, wouldn’t be one that i would naturally gravitate towards if not for the double nomination, by the ontario librarian’s association and for the toronto book award. but there is actually a beauty-full underlying story of how important art is to us as long as we are humans, no matter what happens to us.
if anything, it’s a creative re/imagining of toronto as the centre of the universe because it is where the characters converge just before the catastrophe- it is the middle of the blooming onion, and each deep-fried petal is delicious as it is separated, and though it may burn your fingertips, you keep reaching, and you want to eat it all. the plot twist was expertly handled, and even though i began to suspect it some time before it was confirmed, it was still kind of a surprise when it came, like how we all knew that “unbreakable” would be janet‘s encore last week (duh), but it was still amazing anyway. the shifts through time, the irregular page numbers, and the overwhelming sense of longing are enough to sustain the reader through this book that you kind of don’t want to end, because it means that we end, but in a way, it doesn’t-it’s a book of beginnings, and explanations, and hope in all its misunderstandings and forms.
“It is possible that no one who didn’t grow up in a small place can understand how beautiful this is, how the anonymity of city life feels like freedom.” (78)
“…everyone knows when you’ve got a terrible marriage, it’s like having bad breath, you get close enough to a person and it’s obvious.” (162)
“He knew he should be sociable and talk to them, but he wanted to be alone, or as alone as he could be in an airport with a hundred other terrified and weeping people. He ate a dinner of corn chips and chocolate bars from a vending machine, spent some time listening to Coltrane on his iPod. He was thinking of Robert, his boyfriend of three months. Clark wanted very much to see him again. What was Robert doing at this moment?” (239)
“He bought another tea, because the first one had gone cold, and also he was beset now by terrible fears and walking to the kiosk seemed like purposeful action. Also because the two young women working the kiosk seemed profoundly unconcerned by what was unfolding on CNN, either that or they were extremely stoic or they hadn’t noticed yet, so visiting them was like going back in time to the paradise of a half hour earlier, when he hadn’t yet known that everything was coming undone.” (235)
“What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.” (195)
“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.” (144)
or perhaps the presence of those that you can’t stand?