Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Flying Troutmans, Miriam Toews

"The considerable charm of Miriam Toews' fiction comes, in part, from her ability to create characters in situations of long-term duress with a brilliantly emulsified mix of repression and humour, punctuated by bursts of real emotion." -Quill & Quire

I really liked this book but it took me forever to finish it. It's a very odd mix of quirky humor and painfully sad situations. I think because of the sad subject matter I could only read so much in a go. Because I was bracing myself for the inevitable depressing ending I loved the surprisingly hopeful outlook on the last pages. Very interesting and very unlike anything I've read before.

Apparently Miriam Toews doesn't believe in quotation marks which makes me feel funny about using them now. So here are my favorite quotes & passages free of any markings:

But you're not that old, said Thebes, right? You can still find someone if you look hard. How old are you?
Twenty-eight, I said.
Okay, twenty-eight, she said. She thought for a second. You have like two years, she said. Maybe you should dress up more, though. (p. 5)

You know what I hate? she said.
No, what.
When my teacher uses carpet as a verb, she said. She put on her teacher voice. We're carpeting. After carpet I'll help you work on your personal problems. When we carpet we keep our hands in our laps.
What's carpeting? I asked.
We sit on a carpet and talk, said Thebes.
That sounds nice, I said.
Show me ten! said Thebes.
What? I asked.
My teacher says that all the time, she said. It means show me ten fingers, like show me your hands so I know you're not fooling around with them during carpet. I told Thebes that the next time her teacher asks them to show her ten, she should say she's only got two, and hold up her middle fingers. (p. 37)

How much does a polar bear weigh?
I don't know, I said.
Enough to break the ice, hi, my name's Thebes, can I buy you a drink? (p.83)

socialized health care at the border crossing story p. 71

we're all alone in the world guidance counselor p.76

Min wanting Hattie dead... we could have established a new way of being sisters p.79

giant novelty checks p.92

a bovine choir of angels in solidarity with Thebes p.118

conversing with children is a fine art p.135

hopping on one foot in kindergarten story p.148

And there was that. I was the world's worst guardian of children. I was like the neighborhood cat lady, but with kids. They were filthy, broken and eating themselves and soon they'd feed on my old corpse. p. 226

She slapped her hands down on the table, palms up, like, go ahead, fill me up with your stories of reckless gynecology. p.238

Logan telling Thebes she'll always be his favorite p.261

A beautiful, heart-stopping smile, all badly disguised tenderness and tentative joy. p. 270

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