And I will curse the gods along with them, Min. Some wild monsoon raged through me as I looked at you just now. It’s left me rearranged inside, and I don’t have a map.
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And I will curse the gods along with them, Min. Some wild monsoon raged through me as I looked at you just now. It’s left me rearranged inside, and I don’t have a map.

-Tessa Dare

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My darling Julie, I know you'll never see this letter, but it helps to write to you every day. It keeps you close to me. G-d, I miss you so. You haunt every hour of my life. I wish I'd never met you. No-I don't mean that! What good would my life be without my memories of you to make me smile. I keep wondering if you're happy. I want you to be. I want you to have a glorious life. That's why I couldn't say the things I knew you wanted to hear when we were together. I was afraid if I did, you'd wait for me for years. I knew you wanted me to say I loved you. Not saying that to you was the only unselfish thing I did in Colorado, and I now I regret even that. I love you, Julie. Christ, I love you so much. I'd give up all my life to have one year with you. Six months. Three. Anything. You stole my heart in just a few days, darling, but you gave me your heart, too. I know you did- I could see it in your eyes every time you looked at me. I don't regret the loss of my freedom any more or rage at the injustice of the years I spent in prison. Now, my only regret is that I can't have you. You're young, and I know you'll forget about me quickly and go on with your own life. That's exactly what you should do. It's what you must do. I want you to do that, Julie.That's such a lousy lie. What I really want is to see you again, to hold you in my arms, to make love to you over and over again until I've filled you so completely that there's no room left inside of you for anyone but me, ever. I never thought of sexual intercourse as 'making love' until you. You never knew that.....I wish I had time to write you a better letter or that I'd kept one of the others I've written so I could send that instead. They were all much more coherent than this one. I won't send another letter to you, so don't watch for one. Letters will make us both hope and dream, and if I don't stop doing that, I will die of wanting you.Before I go--I see from the newspapers that Costner has a new movie coming out in the States. If you dare to start fantasizing over Kevin after you see it, I will haunt you for the rest of your life.I love you, Julie. I loved in Colorado. I love you here, where I am. I will always love you. Everywhere. Always.

-Judith McNaught

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But what if I don’t believe in God? It’s like they’ve sat me in front of a mannequin and said, Fall in love with him. You can’t will feeling. What Jack says issues from some still, true place that could not be extinguished by all the schizophrenia his genetic code could muster. It sounds something like this: Get on your knees and find some quiet space inside yourself, a little sunshine right about here. Jack holds his hands in a ball about midchest, saying, Let go. Surrender, Dorothy, the witch wrote in the sky. Surrender, Mary. I want to surrender but have no idea what that means. He goes on with a level gaze and a steady tone: Yield up what scares you. Yield up what makes you want to scream and cry. Enter into that quiet. It’s a cathedral. It’s an empty football stadium with all the lights on. And pray to be an instrument of peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is conflict, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope… What if I get no answer there? If god hasn’t spoken, do nothing. Fulfill the contract you entered into at the box factory, amen. Make the containers you promised to tape and staple. Go quietly and shine. Wait. Those not impelled to act must remain in the cathedral. Don’t be lonely. I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger. But I have to go to a meeting and make the chairs circle perfect. He kisses his index finger and plants it in the middle of my forehead, and I swear it burns like it had eucalyptus on it. Like a coal from the archangel onto the mouth of Isaiah.

-Mary Karr

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He’s close enough now that I can hear his footfall on the pavement, and I knowmy chances of outrunning him are slim. I’m practically in a full sprint, and my pounding heart is begging me to take it down a notch. I try to will my feet to keep pace with its beat; but I think it’s humanly impossible to run that fast. And then it dawns on me that my footsteps are the only ones I hear. Somewhere along the way, Tristan’s must have come to a stop. And I can’t quite explain why I’m running this fast in the first place. I slow to a jog, intending to just pick up with my original pace; but I can’t seem to suck in breaths fast enough to propel my feet any further. My molten shoes stutter to a stop, as my hands come to rest on my knees. I’m stillwheezily sucking in breath after breath of thick, humid air, when I warily turn to look over my shoulder.Tristan’s standing about fifty feet back, hands on his hips and a completelyflummoxed twist in his forehead, his chest rising and falling with equally winded gasps. Evidently I was running faster than I gave myself credit for. As he silently watches me, regaining his breath as I do mine, the confusion on his face turns to undeniable hurt (and not the physical kind). I’ve wounded him, and I can’t evenexplain why. Man, I really am an ass.I start the slow walk of shame back to where he stands, one hand upon my hipas I pull in a few more calming deep breaths. I’m debating whether to concoct some excuse for my behavior…Maybe I left my contacts out today, and didn’t recognize his face? Who would blame me for running for my life, if a stranger seemed to be following me? But as I amble closer—his wrinkled forehead already fading in the wake of a welcoming smile—I decide not to dig myself a deeper hole. I’m already astraight-up jerk. I’d rather not add lying to my repertoire.

-M.A. George

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in your face I seem to read some trouble of mind. When you came in I read it, and that was why I addressed you at once. For in unfolding to you the story of my life, I do not wish to make myself a laughing-stock before these idle listeners, who indeed know all about it already, but I am looking for a man of feeling and education. Know then that my wife was educated in a high-class school for the daughters of noblemen, and on leaving, she danced the shawl dance before the governor and other personages for which she was presented with a gold medal and a certificate of merit. The medal … well, the medal of course was sold—long ago, hm … but the certificate of merit is in her trunk still and not long ago she showed it to our landlady. And although she is most continually on bad terms with the landlady, yet she wanted to tell some one or other of her past honours and of the happy days that are gone. I don’t condemn her for it. I don’t blame her, for the one thing left her is recollection of the past, and all the rest is dust and ashes. Yes, yes, she is a lady of spirit, proud and determined. She scrubs the floors herself and has nothing but black bread to eat, but won’t allow herself to be treated with disrespect. That’s why she would not overlook Mr. Lebeziatnikov’s rudeness to her, and so when he gave her a beating for it, she took to her bed more from the hurt to her feelings than from the blows. She was a widow when I married her, with three children, one smaller than the other. She married her first husband, an infantry officer, for love, and ran away with him from her father’s house. She was exceedingly fond of her husband; but he gave way to cards, got into trouble and with that he died. He used to beat her at the end: and although she paid him back, of which I have authentic documentary evidence, to this day she speaks of him with tears and she throws him up at me; and I am glad, I am glad that, though only in imagination, she should think of herself as having once been happy.… And she was left at his death with three children in a wild and remote district where I happened to be at the time; and she was left in such hopeless poverty that, although I have seen many ups and downs of all sorts, I don’t feel equal to describing it even. Her relations had all thrown her off. And she was proud, too, excessively proud.… And then, honoured sir, and then, I, being at the time a widower, with a daughter of fourteen left me by my first wife, offered her my hand, for I could not bear the sight of such suffering. You can judge the extremity of her calamities, that she, a woman of education and culture and distinguished family, should have consented to be my wife. But she did! Weeping and sobbing and wringing her hands, she married me! For she had nowhere to turn! Do you understand, sir, do you understand what it means when you have absolutely nowhere to turn? No, that you don’t understand yet…

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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I was reading along in the beginning thinking, okay, a woman wrote this, there’s her picture, she’s a white lady, the narrator’s a white lady. And then suddenly she says something and you realize she’s a he. And then a few pages later you realize he’s ‘brown.’ I think the author could have been a little more up front about this.” 🙂 It made me happy because in fact I thought everybody would pick the book up, read the back cover, and know they were dealing with a woman writer speaking through a male narrator. Which is a drag, actually, because if you didn’t know the author was a woman, you’d probably assume that an unmarked first-person narrator was a man, but if you knew she was a woman you’d assume her narrator was too. And if you didn’t know the race of the author, you’d probably assume the narrator was white. That’s pretty insidious, of course - it’s the way sexism and racism work. I’m not saying this woman on Goodreads was racist or sexist, I’m saying the fact that we make these assumptions signals that we live in a world that presumes that an unmarked voice is white and male, and that women and people of color will generally be writing from a limited perspective. I guess that’s obvious. But what I was saying about this comment was that it made me realize something else about ebooks - because I can only assume she read it as an ebook if she didn’t get the back jacket copy that explains who’s narrating. I love books, print books, and my own optimal experience of reading this book would be in print, with short breaks to periodically check out the Internet connections that the narrator’s making. But I do think that decontextualization is an interesting side-effect of the ebook…

-Barbara Browning

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