Quote #22

“I learned later that Rhody always automatically remembered her place in a book. She was not good with phone numbers, and even her Social Security number gave her trouble occasionally, but the page number of her current book would just come to her without effort as soon as she held it and saw the cover. the-fermataSometimes, she told me, the number would even occur to her at odd times during the day, and she would think, Two hundred fifty-four, what a mysterious and suggestive number! It would take her a second to realize that the number seemed unusually fine simply because it was where she was going to resume her reading. Nineteenth-century novels were all-important to her. It wasn’t a question of her liking them; they were a neurological necessity, like sleep. One Mrs. Humphry Ward, or a Reade, or a Trollope per week supplied her with some kind of critical co-enzyme, she said, that allowed her to organize social sense experience. It was nice if the novel was good, but even a very mediocre one would do; without a daily shot of Victorian fiction she couldn’t quite remember how to talk to people and to understand what they said. I miss her.” – Nicholson Baker, The Fermata

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Quote #8

U.and.I“And, second, I looked askance at ‘florilegia’ and plenipotentiary’ because I felt a needle jump in my déjà vu-meter that might indicate that I’d used them both before, and I didn’t like the idea of people (i.e., Updike) thinking, ‘Florilegia again? It wasn’t that great the first time! He’s pretending his vocabulary is a touch-me-anywhere-and-I’ll-secrete-a-mot-juste kind of thing, when it turns out to be this cribbed little circle of favored freaks that he uses over and over hoping nobody will notice!'”

– Nicholson Baker, U and I