What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time*

Goading my sick self through the streets of downtown Chicago, forcing one foot in front of the other at a sluggish pace (not to be confused with my usual healthy dawdle), it occurred to me that I should perhaps just find a park to relax for the afternoon. I wasn’t too disappointed either. While ambling through Chicago’s tulip lined avenues was fun, sitting in a park and reading is one of my favourite things to do (second only to sitting in a park reading while also drinking beer). The problem was that, having planned or a second day of sightseeing and picture taking, I hadn’t brought a book.

I wandered around for over an hour searching for a book store; the El-train screeched overhead, somehow I walked right past Garret’s delicious popcorn shop, some pimple-faced teenager gave me a free coffee mug, and one Fedora-capped man commented (quite rightly) on the stunning nature of my gorgeous eyes. Compliment in hand, I still hadn’t found a bookshop. About to give up and just nap in Millennium Park, I finally found a used bookstore hidden behind 98 storeys of Trump Tower.

It was a difficult shopping experience, one of those bookstore visits where you feel the only books worth reading are the ones you’ve already read. Deciding to get something Chicago themed, I eventually settled on Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. Unfortunately I got distracted on my way to the register and ended up also getting Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Both Midwestern boys who have lived in Chicago, Vonnegut and Obama were great choices for an afternoon in downtown Chicago. At the same time, their writing couldn’t be more different. Obama’s book, anticipating his presidential bid, is all about hopes, dreams and American patriotism. Vonnegut’s novel, inspired by his own experiences as a POW in Germany during WWII, is straight satire, a dark and funny look at war that does not celebrates men’s bravery but instead insists that soldiers are nothing more than babies sent out as canon fodder. I’ve included some of my favourite quotes from both books.

See if you can guess which comes from which author.

1- “We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done”

2- “there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds. And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like “Poo-tee-weet?”

3- “The role of victim [is] too readily embraced as a means of shredding responsibility, of asserting entitlement, or claiming moral superiority over those not so victimized.”

4- “Follow most of our foreign policy debates, and you might believe we have only two choices – belligerence or isolationism”

5- “What he meant of course is that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too”

*The title comes from Vonnegut’s book, which I prefer if only because he actually mentions Canada. Unlike one would be leader of the Free world. Vonnegut-Twain 2012!!

Chicago's famous bean-shaped mirror

There's a lovely bookshop behind Trump towers, if you can find it.

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4 Responses

  1. I find you thoroughly amusing. You crack me up – glad you found a bookstore! Great quotes. 🙂

  2. #1 and 3: Obama; #2, 4 & 5: Vonnegut. ??
    Soigne-toi bien, Emily. Ça commence à avoir l’air un peu inquiétant…
    J’aime bien ton blog, par exemple.

  3. Obama: 1,3,4
    Vonnegut: 2,5

    Feeling better now that I’m back in Florida, maybe the north no longer agrees with me.

  4. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog 🙂

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