This Census-Taker Quotes

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This Census-Taker This Census-Taker by China Miéville
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This Census-Taker Quotes Showing 1-30 of 35
“He said, You'll write it not because there's no possibility it'll be found but because it costs too much to not write it.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“Once I said to my father, 'Why do you want me?'

I still think that's the bravest thing I've ever done.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“You can tell it any way you want, he said, you can be I or he or she or we or they or you and you won't be lying, though you might be telling two stories at once.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“A bridge wants to not be. If it could choose its shape, a bridge would be no shape, an unspace to link One-place-town to Another-place-town over a river or a road or a tangle of railway tracks or a quarry, or to attach an island to another island or to the continent from which it strains. The dream of a bridge is of a woman standing at one side of a gorge and stepping out as if her job is to die, but when her foot falls it meets the ground right on the other side. A bridge is just better than no bridge but its horizon is gaplessness, and the fact of itself should still shame it.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“The manager of my line told me, You never put anything down except to be read. Every word ever written is written to be read and if some go unread that's only chance, failure, they're like grubs that die without changing.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“These felt very much like last moments.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“I hoped the hunter would come. I imagined him pushing through the thickets in the foothills. I've thought of him like that often since, as if he's still out there, game in his sights, intending to check on me on his return.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“This was the first time any adult had hit me. The window-cleaner winced with every strike. I felt better and worse that even a man such as he counted this punishment unfair. He did not intervene.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“A boy ran down a hill path screaming. The boy was I.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“So I would stand in that cupboard and see how the stores were decreasing. I knew we had weeks to go before all of it was gone but I knew also that it was depleting and that various staples would be finished soon, leaving us with those items of which we had a surplus, like dried mushrooms, which would far outlast anything else. I wondered if my father would simply refuse to address this. If he would make meals or have me make them with fewer and fewer ingredients so our diets would continue a while as they were but grow daily and weekly more thin, more flavorless, until for the months until the last jar ran completely out we would be dining on mushrooms, mushrooms for breakfast, soaked in water and salt, mushrooms crushed for lunch, fried in oil until the oil ran out and then simply seared and blackened in a pan over the fire for our suppers, or gnawed raw, until even they went and we would die, one after the other, the taste of mushrooms in our mouths. I couldn’t decide whether I, being smaller and eating less, would die more quickly than he in this mushroomless state or more slowly. I couldn’t decide which would be better or worse.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“My father passed me. He looked briefly at me as you might at a stump or a broken machine or anything that’s specific only in that it’s in your way, to walk around it as my father did me.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“The boy went to the low-down part of the attic where he drew, and drew a lizard in a bottle between the stems of the wallpaper’s design. He came back the next day and, beside it, he drew a cat in another bottle and a fox in a third. He drew a fish in a bottle, a crow in a bottle, a mountain lion in a big bottle. He’d never seen a mountain lion but he heard them sometimes and knew he was to be afraid of them. He imagined that deep throaty growl contained by glass and the thought fascinated him. He drew corks tight in the bottles’ necks.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“Everything, even the dirt, was poised.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“almanacs, or what was left of them when those pages making incorrect predictions and offering unhelpful advice had been torn out.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“His manager taught him that words change with time, by single letters or more, sometimes their whole roots switching—a “y” to an “e” in a name for power, “sun-writing” becomes “light-drawing.” The man eventually gave him this whole other tongue, and he revisited and at last learned from those cuttings about immense foreign wars.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“He didn’t know what if anything it was his mother got from his father’s company.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“Houses built on bridges are scandals. A bridge wants to not be. If it could choose its shape, a bridge would be no shape,”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“This first book’s for everyone, though almost no one wants it or would know how to read it.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“He said, You’ll write it not because there’s no possibility it’ll be found but because it costs too much to not write it.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“the second book’s for readers, he said. But you can’t know when they’ll come, if they do. It’s the book for telling: no code for that one. But—he counted one again and had my close attention—you can still use it to tell secrets and send messages. Even so. You could say them right out, but you can hide them in the words too, in their letters, in the ordering on lines, the arrangements and rhythms.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“On the hill we used a different, vaguer calendar than the one I’ve since learned. The seasons ours described—summer, dimming, and winter—were suited to a different place: the mountain had two seasons at most.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“My father didn’t look at me. He dropped more stones upon a random-looking cairn. The townspeople were slow to get out of our sight. He waited and watched them and didn’t look at me and kept adding to the substance of the hill with the substance of the hill.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“I didn’t move: I had no moving left in me.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“I took the goats downslope a bit and they screamed at each other and I screamed too to see what it was like.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“When I approached and told her the key-maker wasn’t there she cursed filthily and threw something hard against the step, shouting, “What am I supposed to do with this now?” It bounced away. I waited while she stormed away and when she’d left I got onto all fours and found what she’d discarded. It was a bit of some engine. It looked like a heart, I remember that. I put it on the kitchen table. When, hours later, my father returned, he put down his heavy bags at the sight of it. “A woman brought it,” I said. He picked it up and turned it over. “She threw it away and went.” “Whatever this came from,” he said, “what she wants is a key to make it start again.” “Can’t she just put it back in?” I said.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“A haggard man used one of the huts as a home. He lay on a sagging mattress, his head on his pack, surrounded by rubbish - paper, porcelain shards, food remains and unidentifiable debris. His hand was over his eyes. He looked like a failed soldier. Dirt seemed so worked into him that the lines of his face were like writing.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“The manager of my line told me, You never put anything down except to be read. Every word ever written is written to be read and if some go unread that‘s only chance, failure, they‘re like grubs that die without changing.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“And I who months before had run into town screaming my accusation was shy to say it now that I was asked to put it in clear words. I’d grown used to this world in which everyone knew what had happened or what I said had, in which it had gone from being spoken to being unspoken again, a secret everybody knew. Here I was, hesitating to speak it. I took persuading.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“I didn’t tell the story to ask for help because I knew there was no help.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker
“You told all this to the people in the town,” he said. “They said they can’t do anything because of no proof.”
China Miéville, This Census-Taker

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