"Imagine a wolf moving through the northern woods. The movement, over a trail he has traversed many times before, is distinctive,A few random quotes:
"Imagine a wolf moving through the northern woods. The movement, over a trail he has traversed many times before, is distinctive, unlike that of a cougar or a bear, yet he appears, if you are watching, sometimes catlike or bearlike. It is purposeful, deliberate movement. Occasionally the rhythm is broken by the wolf's pause to inspect a scent mark, or a move off the trail to paw among stones where a year before he had cached meat."
"The movement down the trail would seem relentless if it did not appear so effortless. The wolf's body, from neck to hips, appear to float over the long, almost spindly legs and the flicker of wrists, a bicycling drift through the trees, reminiscent of the movement of water or of shadows."
"The wolf is tied by subtle threads to the woods he moves through. His fur carries seeds that will fall off, effectively dispersed, along the trail some miles from where they first caught in his fur. And miles distant is a raven perched on the ribs of a caribou the wolf helped kill then days ago, pecking like a chicken at the decaying scraps of meat. A smart snowshow hare that eluded the wolf and left him exhausted when he was a pup has been dead a year now, food for an owl. The den in which he was born one April evening was home to porcupines last winter."
"I called this exchange in which the animals appear to lock eyes and make a decision the conversation of death. It is a ceremnonial exchange, the flesh of the hunted in exchange for respect for its spirit. In this way both animals, not the predator alone, choose for the encounter to end in death. There is, at least, a sacred order in this. There is nobility. And it is something that happens only between the wolf and his major prey species. It produces, for the wolf, sacred meat. Imagine a cow in the place of the moose or white-tailed deer. The conversation of death falters noticeably with domestic stock. They have had the conversation of death bred out of them; they do not know ho to encounter wolves. A horse, for example-- a large animal as capable as a moose of crackling a wolf's ribs or splitting its head open with a kick-- will usually panic and run. What happens whena wolf wanders into a flock of sheep and kills twenty or thirty of them in apparent compulsion is perhaps not so much slaughter as a failure on the part of the sheep to communicate anything at all-- resistance, mutual respect, appropriateness-- to the wolf. The wolf has initiated a sacred ritual and met with ignorance."
"We are dealing with a different kind of death from the one men know. When the wolf "asks" for the life of another animal he is responding to something in that animal that says, "My life is strong. It is worth asking for." A moose may be biologically constrained to die because he is old or injured, but the choice is there. The death is not tragic. It has dignity."
"Men in a speculative business like cattle ranching singled out one scapegoat for their financial losses. Hired hands were readily available and anxious to do the killing. There was a feeling that as long as someone was out killing. There was a feeling that as long as someone was out killing wolves, things were bound to get better. And the wolf had few sympathizers. The history of economic expansion in the West was characterized by the change or destruction of much that lay in its way. Dead wolves were what Manifest Destiny cost."
"By and large, the kinds of men who did the killing in the 1880s and 1890s were drifters who gave strong lip service to Progress, the mandate to subdue the earth, and the ghoulish nature of the wolf. Ben Corbin, a frontier roustabout who at one point killed wolves for a living, left his wolf-hunting wisdom behind in the pages of a privately printed booklet called The Wolf Hunter's Guide (1901). It is typical of hundreds of other such memoirs in that it has very little to say aobut how to actually kill woves but a great deal to say about the Bible, free trade, the privilege of living in a democracy, and the foulness of the wolf's ways. It expresses the sentiments of the day and is full of bad biology and fantastic calculations."
"Every Christmas Lindy'd stand beside the conveyor belt under electronic monitors with the other passengers, well-dressed and colA few notable quotes:
"Every Christmas Lindy'd stand beside the conveyor belt under electronic monitors with the other passengers, well-dressed and cologned. Behind her, silent and just out of sight, the odor of hunting jacket, of little-washed man, and of the wood smoke he's carried all the way from the house. She knows her father'll try to merge his rust-bitten Chevrolet Citation onto the freeway outside the airport and be forced onto the shoulder before he can snatch his little piece of road. They'll sit across the plastic table under fluorescent lights in Leesburg while he halves a Big mac with his pocketknife, rinses the blade in a cup of water, and dries it in his handkerchief." pg 14
"Shane cuts her a look with snakebit in it. When she leaves the bedroom, he tries to slam the door behind her, but flimsy like it is, it makes only a shabby smack. She finds herself on the heap of cinderblocks that is their front stoop. The block she sits on wobbles. From under the trailer, a white cat skits out, petrifies at the sight of her, then bullets around the back. It shows clear the knobs of its shoulders and hips, and Lindy recalls first moving out of here. Then most of the dogs and cats outside looked fat. Now the ones inside looked skinny." pg 17
"Her mother had lost several between Lindy and DeeDee. 'Your mother's people have always had an easy time getting pregnant, a hard time staying that way,' her father would say." pg 18
"Connie, on the other hand, is neither disfigured nor desirable. She was born, she knows, with a mild mistake for a face. Her hips and thighs have blossomed enormous, the way the other girls' will, it is true, shortly after high school, but instead of that inspiring sympathy for Connie, it just makes her more ignored. Connie a fleshy premonition no wants to acknowledge, prematurely middle-aged even by the yardstick of a place where middle age can strike in one's twenties." pg 25
"Nearly every other night when Connie wedges herself out the first-story window, suspecting nothing. Their oldest daughter, as far as they're concerned, as sexual as a potato." pg 28
"Kenny's picture sat on top of the TV for years, him startled and midgety under his hat. Army hat like a stewpot upside down on Kenny's tiny head, that big chin looping out like a gourd. Eventually the picture traveled to the bookcase and then on to the wall of the basement stairs, but by that time Mommy, too, had passed. Held on for nine months after the diagnosis and got religion near the end, but she never gave up those cigarettes. Tempered the tar with God." pg 58
"I knew that although neither one of us was happy, she'd learned not to ask her disappointment as many questions." pg 97
"Richard always called it love. Ten years of late suppers and, even on weekends, him asleep in front of the TV by eight p.m. Two hours later, he'd wake and they'd shift to the bed, the brief bucking there. Afterwards, he'd sleep again, as sudden and as deep as if he'd been cold-cocked. Richard was a good boy and a hard worker. And now he's waited two weeks, in his patient, plodding way, to be killed in a car wreck. That week's driver asleep at the wheel ten miles short of home after a day of drywalling." pg 106
"Most of this land would have been my inheritance, and I grew up hunting it, cutting wood off it, running it. I know it better than anyone still living, including the man who owns it now. Never have I seen it so tired, with the deer paths wide as cattle runs up and down the hollow sides, and acornless ground. And the deer themselves, gaunt and puny and sorrowful. Quivering under their flies." pg 113
"The moment the sun falls through, two eyes flash a flat green. Then they go out. I stare harder, but the creature's shrunk from the light. It does not sound again. Something curls inside me. The dry has drawn it into the well, and there it starves and won't ever get out. And me the last thing to see it, and I can't even tell what it is." pg 115
"As I rode along the smooth-graded gravel road, I squinted to find the good crossing place, where I'd shot a big-bodies eight-point when I was seventeen or so. But near as I could tell, the crossing ran straight through a kit log cabin. And the feel of moving among all those new vacation houses, yet not a soul around. The houses creating an expectation of presence, then their emptiness sucking that expectation inside out. So much emptier on Joby Knob now than when it was just trees." pg 115
"The bullet only has to strike the right place, no bigger than your thumb, and like a key in a lock, it shuts down everything below." pg 134...more
"The villagers sit close together, everyone touching someone else, steeped in a contentment that seems, at this moment, perpetual. It occurs to the wr"The villagers sit close together, everyone touching someone else, steeped in a contentment that seems, at this moment, perpetual. It occurs to the writer that the secret way to happiness is in knowing a lot of dead people." pg 150
"Billeh's been lent a Kalashnikov, sand-blasted smooth and dull like those of the other two, each with a thirty-shot clip that may or may not be full, they refuse to say, and also Lion carries a sort of rocket, or grenade, that screws down onto the muzzle of his Kalashnikov and appears not to bear experimenting with. Lion produces from his waistband, for the writer's use, a 1917 model U.S. Army .45 caliber six-shooter, probably a Colt. It's got three forty-five automatic rounds in its cylinders, which are chambered for the long .45s, not the shorter automatic rounds. "One for each of you, if we're attacked, and one for me," the writer jokes-- they laugh like hell for twenty seconds, then shut down tight and inform him seriously that Muslims don't do suicide, it's banned by the Koran. He assures them the Bible's against it too, and everybody's comforted."pg 152
"When logic and utility fall from grace, the mystical authority of subtler concerns rises up like an intoxicating incense, and everything is done for reasons no one understands." pg 155
"Another night under a strange sky in a different realm. I listen to the reports on the shortwave of bombings, attacks, plagues, even witch-burnings (seventy elderly women burned in South Africa in the last ten months) and I feel I'm living in a world where such things are all there is... I've got a pocket New Testament, but I can't read much of it- because I'm living in the Bible's world right now, the world of cripples and monsters and desperate hope in a mad God, world of exile and impotence and the waiting, the waiting, the waiting. A world of miracles and deliverance, too. Add the invention of the Kalashnikov in 1947 into the mix, and life gets exciting." pg 157
"Some begin complaining about the Marines, and others point with pride to the water trucks and big guns stolen from the U.N., to the blown-up troop trucks upended and wheelless in the streets, and the corner, a monument now, where eighteen U.S. Rangers died fighting Somali militia. The U.N.- What did it accomplish? The tons of food and medicine, it's all forgotten. Only the police effort and the bossing stays fresh in the minds of Mogadishu. The outfit that saved, by it's own count, 150,000 here seems almost universally derided and resented." pg 161
"When the ill-timed efforts of nation-states to impose their idea of stability unbalances the tribal powers, the return to balance is violent." pg 161
"The journalist from America has decided to cling to the notion that out there, in the countryside he passed through to reach this crazy city, the people know what they're doing. Their leaders don't, and we don't. But they know. All this destruction is shaping tomorrow- a tomorrow without a lot of Idaho White Boy ideas in it." pg 169
"But the nation-state, the twentieth-century geopolitical entity held together by the government's monopoly on the use of force- it's finished. The Kalashnikov rifle and the Stinger missile, and the world-wide dissemination of these weapons during the proxy conflicts of the Cold War, have changed things as much as the invention of gunpowder did in the thirteenth century. A determined Third-World people can now hold out against the greatest powers- witness Vietnam- and even a loose coalition of determined clans or factions can drive away the strongest armies- witness Afghanistan- and now in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia it's been made plain that even factions at war with one another can, with their left hand, as it were, stalemate the U.N. in its efforts to stop the fighting among them." pg 170
"He was born in 1820 and died in 1910. He was a tall, gangling figure with a mane of rWow... What a privilege. Thank you Mr. Barnes.
On Felix Tournachon:
"He was born in 1820 and died in 1910. He was a tall, gangling figure with a mane of red hair, passionate and restless by nature. Baudelaire called him "an astonishing expression of vitality"; his gusts of energy and flames of hair seemed enough to lift a balloon into the air by themselves. No one ever accused him of being sensible. The poet Gerard de Nerval introduced him to the magazine editor Alphonse Karr with the words, "He is very witty and very stupid." A late editor and close friend, Charles Philipon, called him "a man of wit without a shadow of rationality...His life has been, still is, and always will be incoherent." He was the sort of bohemian who lived with his widowed mother until he married; and the sort of husband whose infidelities coexisted with uxoriousness.
He was a journalist, caricaturist, photographer, baloonist, entrepreneur and inventor, a keen registerer of patents and founder of companies; a tireless self-publicist, and in old age a prolific writer of unreliable memoirs. As a progressive, he hated Napoleon III, and sulked in his carriage when the Emperor arrived to watch the departure of The Giant. As a photographer, he declined the custom of high society, preferring to memorialise the circles in which he moved; naturally, he photographed Sarah Bernhardt several times. He was an active member of the first French society for the protection of animals. He used to make rude noises at policemen and disapproved of prison (where he had once been confined for debt): he thought juries should ask not "Is he guilty?" but rather "Is he dangerous?" He threw huge parties and kept open table; he gave over his studio on the Boulevard des Capucines to the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874. He planned to invent a new sort of gunpowder. He also dreamed of a kind of talking picture, which he called "an acoustic daguerreotype." He was hopeless with money.
"Nadar recalled that Balzac had a theory of the self, according to which a person's essence was made up of a near-infinite series of spectral layers, one superimposed on the next. The novelist further believed that during the "Daguerrean operation" one such layer was stripped away and retained by the magic instrument. Nadar couldn't remember if this layer was supposedly lost for ever, or whether regeneration was possible; though he cheekily suggested that, given Balzac's corpulence, he had less to fear than most from having a few spectral layers removed."...more