If you read my previous post on my favourite YA book, you probably already know which book it is that I quote/recite from the most. There are many books I quote from, I’m comparable to Captain Picard when it comes to my memory for pithy or just plain memorable quotations from literature, but one book has so much applicable wisdom in between its covers that I never miss a chance to quote it, and that’s The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which is one of my favourite books of all time.
It’s a pleasure to read, re-read, quote, and pass on to others who have yet to read it, and everyone I’ve bequeathed it to has loved it in return. That’s what I call book magic. It’s got a deceptively simple story, about a bookseller’s son who tries to uncover the story behind a book that he obtained from a secret literary mausoleum, what happened to the author, and why the book is such a rarity.
Rather than posting direct quotes from the book, I’m going to talk about situations in which I’ve quoted it and how they were received. Yesterday, I quoted it to explain why I loved YA literature and don’t care for snobbery about the genre. The Shadow of the Wind, being a book about people who love books and reading, is rich in quotations about books and their power. They gave me a voice with which to explain my own love of reading, and when I pass on/recommend it to someone, I quote it to them, saying, “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
One time, I was discussing the nature of “evil” with someone I’m very close to, explaining to him why I felt that it was a true rarity and why ignorance and bigotry were greater problems than evil, and quoted this passage from The Shadow of the Wind spoken by the character Fermin to explain it: “Evil presupposes a moral decision, intention and some forethought. A moron or lout, however, doesn’t stop to think or reason. He acts on instinct, like a stable animal, convinced he’s doing good, that he’s always right, and sanctimoniously proud to go around fucking up, if you’ll excuse the French, anyone he perceives to be different from himself, be it because of skin colour, creed, language, nationality, or…leisure habits. What the world needs is more thoroughly evil people and fewer borderline pigheads.” My friend loved this, and I think he truly took it to heart and probably now remembers the quote as well as I do.
Normally, I wouldn’t have such a long memory for quotations as perfectly as I do with these, I usually prefer more succinct ones for conversations, so that people don’t lose interest. But Zafon’s language is so powerful and compelling that it’s impossible to not pay attention when someone quotes him, which serves me well when speaking and remembering his words. I wish I had his power, but for now, I can just recite his words and maybe develop my own style so I’ll be half as memorable and quotable.