Ten Literary Things I Remember

cardplayersonthebeach Tunisia

(5 mythic card-players on a Tunisian beach)

1) In one of J.D. Salinger’s short stories, this guy who’s just been turned down for military service during the Vietnam war turns from the window and says, ” Ya know who the next war’s gonna be with? The goddam Eskimos. And ya know who’s gonna be conscripted this time? Everyone over sixty. ”

laz cbv

(3 Musicians make music in a sunny Lanzarote bar)

2) One of Jane Austen’s good guys saying quietly, “Badly done, Emma,” after she has publicly humiliated a well-meaning but irritatingly boring family servant.


( 6 Flappers doing a Shetland version of the Charleston outside the Flattie Bar)

3) The last 2 lines of Macbeth’s soliloquy about the meaning of life:
“‘Tis a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.”
only the actor (not Olivier)  pronounced the last word “noth……thing”.

4) In Albee’s “Virginia Woolf” play,  Martha asks where the telegram is with the terrible news that their son is dead and George says, “ I ate it.”

5) A three line poem but whose I can’t remember:
wherever i go
i go too
and spoil everything. ”

6) ‘Moby Dick’s’ 3-word opening sentence “Call me Ishmael ” but did the other 159,341 words live up to such a striking beginning?

7) ” I can’t remember the first thing I remember.” I can’t remember where this quote came from…

8) Lucky’s  2-page long  rant  in ‘ En Attendant Godot’ – ” Étant donné l’existence telle qu’elle jaillit des récents travaux publics de Poinçon et Wattmann d’un Dieu………..Si Calmes!..Conard!..Inachevés! ” – that is  funny or sad, silly or profound, comic or tragic, or everything altogether all at once.

9) “Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June……”

Because of ‘doing’ Edward Thomas’s  poem in school, I once cycled from somewhere to Adlestrop but  (thanks to Dr. Beeching) there was no station anymore to remember, just this this small, forgettable village (80 inhabitants) and  this wonderfully bright, light  poem to immortalise that random, unforgotten moment in the summer of 1914.

10) “Life and Other Punctures” – a light-hearted, very English novel about a bicycle trip in France by Eleanor Bron that still makes me smile. And makes me think (hard) about memorable titles – “Lucky Jim”, “Lord Jim”, “Lord of the Flies”, ” Catch 22 “, ” Catcher in the Rye”, “Brief Encounter”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “My Family and Other Animals”, “Look Back in Anger”, “Travels with a Donkey”……