Read ’em and Weep

One advantage of not getting all my favorite TV channels and shows is that I have become as avid a reader as I was in college. I just completed a large (1400 page) science fiction book, Limit, by the German writer Frank Schatzing, who had success with his previous book The Swarm. The title page gives credit to three translators, two of whom seem fine; the other, however, appears to be 1) insane, 2) not an English-speaker, or 3) a 15 year-old wannabe writer trying to impress. If you wonder why I read it all, it’s because the story and characters were, for the most part, compelling.  The purple prose made the experience painful, but I survived. Here are just some examples:

  1. His thick lips could make a frog turn green with envy, but they were somehow sensual at the same time.
  2. “Idiot,” Yoyo spat at him, softly.
  3. He raised his eyebrows full of admiration at how coquettishly his wife was twisting and turning in the mirror of her own self-criticism.
  4. She glanced across to Svenja Maas and then back again, as though remembering with an effort that there were good-looking people in all walks of life.
  5. Splendid green lawns beneath spreading leafy boughs called out to them to stop and linger with a loaf of bread, some cheese, a bottle of Chianti, to make the most of every minute before the die was cast and they had to enter Building O.
  6. Just a quiet grief, her love for the man who now lay dead in the museum, and at the same time a curious nonchalance, as though to say, there it is then, so it goes, it had to happen sometime.
  7. …he ran…past grinning sculptures of crouching lions. The beasts looked as though they had poodles or mastiffs somewhere in their bloodline….Perhaps they’d just been bad sculptors.
  8. Little yelps of fear slipped through her half-open lips, as regular as an alarm.
  9. ..(he saw) at the opposite end of the great hall, another gate that was the partner of the one he had come through, tiny, almost ashamed to be so small but nevertheless bravely doing its work…
  10. …the chef was staring steadily at the German girl from his hungry St. Bernard’s eyes, as if testing the quality of her cuts, loins, rump and breast, and his eyes darted furtively away every time she looked back. Aha, he thought…(he) is in love.
  11. Nina …tried to catch a thousand birds as she sweated away in the Finnish sauna, in a state of mounting frustration. Everywhere she saw the peacock plumage of affluence.
  12. She tried out, one at a time, a collection of suitable-seeming facial expressions: amazement, reflection, sympathy, puzzlement…
  13. “Because you think you’re, as we’ve seen, you think you’re—” Vocabulary, Miranda, vocabulary? Not just crap, what’s another word? “Shit. You think you’re shit..”
  14. “Vegetables don’t come to mind when I look at you. Asparagus, perhaps.”
  15. (They) were wandering around….with delegates from MI5, but Edda Hoff gobbled up the fillet steaks of their investigations hungrily.
  16. “Pieces of shit!” snarled Momoka. “Your goddam Moon is starting to really get on my tits.”
  17. He knew that silence nourished foolishness…
  18. The time crept by, or was it racing?
  19. Even Julian seemed to be discovering, with surprise, that he really was sixty years old. Never before had they heard Peter Pan snort so loudly.
  20. No one came to help. Applications for grief and sadness lay around unprocessed, the empathy department had all gone for a coffee break.
  21. And her scream, that brave little scream, set out, bold little fellow, dragged itself the whole long way out to the event horizon, then lost its strength, lost its courage, tottered over backwards and died.
  22. Finn O’Keefe read his book, to keep from seeing her red lips forming a blossom of promise, or uttering words of breathtaking banality.
  23. Evelyn Chambers said nothing, glad of the emptiness in her head.