Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Telling tales

From "The Man of Many Names," collected in And Other Stories, by Georgi Gospodinov (2001, English translation by Alexis Levitin and Magdalena Levy, 2007)
He said that he could tell us the stories of all the books he had read, that he could talk until morning interpreting the stories he had just heard, but no matter how he searched his memory, he couldn't come up with a single story of his own.

"And our personal stories are the only moves, the only moves that help us postpone, at least for a while, the predetermined ending to our game. And even though we are going to lose the game from the strategic point of view, the idle moves of our stories always postpone the end. Even if they are stories about failure."

From In the Night Garden (2006), by Catherynne N. Valente
On an evening when I was a very small child, an old woman came to the great silver gate, and twisting her hands among the rose roots told me this: I was not born with this mark. A spirit came into my cradle on the seventh day of the seventh month of my life, and while my mother slept in her snow white bed, the spirit touched my face, and left there many tales and spells, like the tattoos of sailors. The verses and songs were so great in number and so closely written that they appeared as one long, unbroken streak of jet on my eyelids. But they are the words of the river and the marsh, the lake and the wind. Together they make a great magic, and when the tales are all read out, and heard end to shining end, to the last syllable, the spirit will return and judge me.

From Somebody Owes Me Money (1969), by Donald E. Westlake
"Sid, when you go to the bathroom, you're going to have a lot more to tell your boss than just where he can find Abbie and me. You're going to tell him who killed Tommy McKay, and you're going to tell him about the lawyer I went to see on my way to town, and you're going to tell him about the letter I dictated to that lawyer, and you're going to tell him why his boy and Droble's boys both should lay off both Abbie and me permanently and forever. This is all going to be very interesting, Sid."

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