Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.

Recently Quoted

  • Few things in this world can equal driving a truck. Jakob has been the village's number one truck driver since 1980, and even if it's exciting, and maybe much more than that, driving a big truck to and from Reykjavik, it was even better when it took just over four hours to reach the capital; today, family cars can do the same in around two hours, a truck in nearly three, such has the world shrunk, though distances between people haven't diminished. But you should have seen us when the new road over Brekkan Bluff was opened three years ago, straight and wide, instead of the old, narrow one that wound up and down, even looped back on itself, seemingly unbothered about getting to its destination and in the winters disappeared beneath the snow- how we celebrated! A dance was held at the Community Center, We got sloshed, the women had red lips, and the grass was fragrant. Jakob was the only one who didn't celebrate, a string in his heart even broke when he drove the new road for the first time, getting over the bluff in fifteen instead of fifty minutes, and the old road winding for nothing high above the new one, halfway to the sky. But Jakob isn't the type who lets sorrow darken his days, he just drives a little slower, because, we repeat: few things in the world can equal driving a truck, which is why it would be utter stupidity to hurry.

    an excerpt from Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night, written by Jón Kalman Stefánsson in 2021

  • So if you prosper, suspect those bright
    Mornings when you whistle with a light
    Heart. You are loved; you have never seen
    The harbour so still, the park so green,
    So many well-fed pigeons upon
    Cupolas and triumphal arches,
    So many stags and slender ladies
    Beside the canals. Remember when
    Your climate seems a permanent home
    For marvelous creatures and strange men,
    What griefs and convulsions startled Rome,
    Ecbatana, Babylon.

    How narrow the space, how slight the chance
    For civil pattern and importance
    Between the watery vagueness and
    The triviality of the sand,
    How soon the lively trip is over
    From loose craving to sharp aversion,
    Aimless jelly to paralyzed bone;
    At the end of each successful day
    Remember that the fire and the ice
    Are never more than one step away
    From the temperate city: it is
    But a moment to either.

    But should you fail to keep your kingdom
    And, like your father before you, come
    Where thought accuses and feeling mocks,
    Believe your pain; praise the scorching rocks
    For their desiccation of your lust,
    Thank the bitter treatment of the tide
    For its dissolution of your pride,
    That the whirlwind may arrange your will
    And the deluge release it to find
    The spring in the desert, the fruitful
    Island in the sea, where flesh and mind
    Are delivered from mistrust. -- from The Sea and The Mirror

    an excerpt from Collected Poems, written by W. H. Auden in 1973

  • Herman Melville
    (for Lincoln Kirstein)

    Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness,
    And anchored in his home and reached his wife
    And rode within the harbour of her hand,
    And went across each morning to an office
    As though his occupation were another island.

    Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge.
    His terror had to blow itself quite out
    To let him see it; but it was the gale had blown him
    Past the Cape Horn of sensible success
    Which cries: "This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here."

    But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:
    The maniac hero hunting like a jewel
    The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,
    Hatred for hatred ending in a scream,
    The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare--
    All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.

    Evil is unspectacular and always human,
    And shares our bed and eats at our own table,
    And we are introduced to Goodness every day,
    Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;
    He has a name like Billy and is almost perfect,
    But wears a stammer like a decoration:
    And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;
    It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover
    And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,
    And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.

    For now he was awake and knew
    No one is ever spared except in dreams;
    But there was something else the nightmare had distorted--
    Even the punishment was human and a form of love:
    The howling storm had been his father's presence
    And all the time he had been carried on his father's breast.

    Who now had set him gently down and left him.
    He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:
    And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood
    "All, all is vanity," but it was not the same;
    For now the words descended like the calm of mountains--
    --Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish--
    Reborn, he cried in exultation and surrender
    "The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces."

    And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.

    an excerpt from Collected Poems, written by W. H. Auden in 1973

Recently Noted

  • It's also really funny. That helps with the rambly discursiveness. I think I wouldn't have much time to sit on a porch and shoot the shit with a nosy neighbor in a small town, but if they're this funny: yes.

    an note about Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night, written by Jón Kalman Stefánsson in 2021

  • A rambly, meandering set of short stories all set in a small Icelandic village. (on one of the Western peninsulas!) Sounds like not my thing, but it's nicely written and was really enjoyable. I do have a soft spot for Iceland narratives, of course, and being able to really picture this in like, Grundarfjörður, makes it even better.

    an note about Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night, written by Jón Kalman Stefánsson in 2021

  • Look, 'business books' are pretty much uniformly dumb. This is not that! It's one half love letter to Powerpoint, and one half how-to guide with Davies' tips on how to make your presentations great. I don't even make that many presentations, but I loved this and it's a FUN read. And if you ever make ppts for anything, it's I think a really useful read. Five stars.

    an note about Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Powerpoint, written by Russell Davies in 2021

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Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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