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You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
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Sep 05, 2011

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** spoiler alert **

“Has it never been explained to you that self-pity undermines sarcasm? Pick one or the other, then stick with it.”

“Falmouth, when you and I were together, were you in love with me?”
He winced. “I suppose I was. It appeared so at that time, didn’t it? Do you want a cigarette?”
“Maybe you only seemed to be in love. Suppose, appear, seem, I hate those words.”
“Why are we discussing this now?”
“Nothing, it’s just someday I want to be in love without supposing or appearing or seeming.”
“You want to be in love? Or you want somebody to be in love with you? It can’t be both, that’s like mingling self-pity and sarcasm.”

“What exactly is your complaint, sir?”
“Same as always,” said the complainer. “Nostalgia, except it’s not just regular nostalgia. More like nostalgia vu. Longing for longing, instead of the thing in question.”

“What’s astronaut food?”
“You know, stuff in little packets that you keep lying on the shelf. Everyone has some lying around. The people you imagine you might be with but you know you never really will be… Friends who are almost more than friends but really, they’re just friends… Sometimes, you even fall into bed with them, but that doesn’t count for much. It’s always a mistake trying to get nourishment out of that stuff. But it’s not a big mistake. That’s the beautiful part, how the stakes are low.”

“We used to have so much to say to each other.”
“It’s different now, yes.”
“We’re creating secrets now, instead of telling them.”
“Secrets from who?”
“From whom?”
“That depends on who you tell your secrets to.”

“Everyone has someone they shouldn’t call.”

Falmouth had tried to appropriate other people’s happiness, and been met with that property’s devastatingly blithe resistance. Happiness was disobedient, had its own law.

Today, they were escape artists, had dissolved their grievances in the coffee and sunlight, and now nothing could touch them. They’d become the rarest form of themselves, uncomplainers.

“You can’t be deep without a surface.”

“When somebody is living in a delusory world, it isn’t necessarily your job to pull them out of it. Not unless you’ve got a better one to offer in its place.”

“To forgetting it was bad,” said the complainer, gulping back another mouthful of wine. “To telephoning an old lover and pretending to forget it was bad, to falling back into bed when you know you shouldn’t, to sucking the dregs.”
“You mean like a cup of coffee?”
“Exactly. The dregs of a relationship, like the dregs in a cup of coffee. To the greed of a coffee drinker for one last sip, when all that remains is bitter sludge.

“Just as the quality of a sporting event is determined by the level of play of the losing team, or the quality of a love affair by the way you feel when you’re apart. Or of a secret, by its telling."

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