Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A knack for aphorisms

Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafon, whose book Marina I reviewed here in my last post, is a writer who, like Louis de Bernieres in his terrific novel Birds Without Wings, displays a knack for aphorisms. Every few pages, usually through one of his characters, he says something that would not be out of place in a fortune cookie or, better yet, a book of quotations. He has a way of summing up one of life's truths in just a few words.

Here are some lines I noted in Marina:

"To paint is to write with light."

"Sometimes, the things that are the most real only happen in one's imagination."

"The territory of humans is life. Death does not belong to us."

Those lines are pretty good, but Carlos Ruiz Zafon does even better in some of his other novels. Here are a sampling from The Shadow of the Wind:

"We exist as long as somebody remembers us."

"Books are mirrors. You only see in them what you already have within you."

"Keep your dreams. You never know when you might need them."

And here are a few from The Angel's Game, to date my favorite of his novels:

"Theory is the practice of the impotent."

"To believe or to disbelieve is a pointless act. Either one knows or one doesn't."

"One can convert only a sinner, never a saint."

"Routine is the housekeeper of inspiration."

Those are some pretty good lines, I think. Bartlett's should reserve a page for this writer in their next edition.

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