Great Circle – Maggie Shipstead – Quotes

I don’t regret anything, but I will if I let myself.

I thought I would believe I’d seen the world, but there is too much of the world and too little of life. I thought I would believe I’d completed something, but now I doubt anything can be completed. I thought I would not be afraid. I thought I would become more than I am, but instead I know I am less than I thought.

They were Felix and Trixie, refugees from Wilton Wolf’s Flying Circus, which had gone defunct after the government decided the festive local air shows that had sprung up everywhere after the war involved too many people plunging festively to their deaths and tightened regulations.

Everyone knows Los Angeles is a city of deniers. Everyone knows this is a city of silicone and Restylane, of charismatic stationary-bike preachers and kettlebell gurus, of healing crystals ad singing bowls, of probiotics, juice cleanses and colonics and jade eggs you stick up your vag and exorbitantly expensive snake-oil powder you sprinkle on your coconut chia pudding. We purify ourselves for life as though it were the grave. This is a city that’s more afraid of death than any other. I said that to Oliver once and he told me I was being a little negative. I said it to Siobhan, and she gave me the name of a shrink. I said it to the shrink, and he asked me if I thought people were wrong to fear death. I said I didn’t think the fear was the problem as much as the struggle. I said I thought the struggle should be to accept death, not to defy it.

I knew about the Day brothers. Kyle and Travis, blond twins with Nazi haircuts who vaped on the red carpet. They weren’t even thirty but had created a quirky, violent limited series for HBO set in Reno. They were having a moment. And Bart Olofsson had made one talky indie movie that was the darling of Sundance and then like three superhero movies, so he was probably ready to do the reverse sellout.

You have to fly by the seat of your pants, they say. Meaning: A real pilot feels the plane’s every movement in his ass.

But it’s your inner ear, not your ass, that’s the problem. And your inner ear is a liar.

A man, blindfolded and spun slowly in a rotating chair, will think when the chair slows that it stopped. When it has stopped, he will think it has begun to spin the other way. The mistake happens deep in his ear, among the tiny hair cells and drifting fluid inside the semicircular canals of the bony labyrinth. These are the minute, impossibly fragile internal instruments that detect the yaw, pitch, and roll of the human head – wondrous little gizmos to be sure but poorly evolved for flight.

That Marian would turn teetotaler after their marriage was a decision he’d made without consulting her, a rule she’d awoken to find hammered into place. She would have liked to try a cocktail in a jazz club but didn’t wish to argue. She hadn’t anticipated how much of her behavior after marriage would be motivated by a wish not to argue.

Everyone in London seemed to drink a lot, to never sleep enough, to be ravenous for fun.

The Japanese flew over sometimes, strafing and bombing, usually not doing much damage. The tundra swallowed their bullets and bombs. “We do better than that, don’t we?” Jamie said to an army photographer after an attack.

The man gazed after the departing planes. “Yeah, their mud is probably much more shot up than ours.”

All the times she has brushed against death, she’s never given much thought to what might come after. Now she considers it. She supposes there will be nothing. She supposes each of us destroys the world. We close our eyes and snuff out all that has existed, all that will ever be.

Here you can find my review of Great Circle

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska

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