“I was sick to leave my books, and I’ve thought about them, missing them, as if they were my family. But I think maybe I’m a fool to feel that way.”
“Why a fool?” he asked. He had a foreign accent, but he had the Yeowan lilt already, and his voice was beautiful, low and warm.
I tried to explain everything at once: “Well, they mean so much to me because I was illiterate when I came to the City, and it was the books that gave me freedom, gave me the world—the worlds— But now, here, I see how the net, the holos, the neareals mean so much more to people, giving them the present time. Maybe it’s just clinging to the past to cling to books. Yeowans have to go towards the future. And we’ll never change people’s minds just with words.”
He listened intently, as he had done at the meeting, and then answered slowly, “But words are an essential way of thinking. And books keep the words true. . . . I didn’t read till I was an adult, either.”
“I knew how, but I didn’t. I lived in a village. It’s cities that have to have books,” he said, quite decisively, as if he had thought about this matter. “If they don’t, we keep on starting over every generation. It’s a waste. You have to save the words.”
“Talk goes by,” I said, “and all the words and images in the net go by, and anybody can change them. But books are there. They last. They are the body of history, Mr. Yehedarhed says.”
These speak to the book-lover soul in me
"He wondered what it would be like to be broke and on the streets, and then he wondered what the history books would say about this era in American history, when the rich got richer and the middle class disappeared and the poor moved into the streets. Who was it who said that nations were judged on how they treated their least advantaged citizens?
Really, at this point the best favor the Baby Boomer generation could do for their nation was to die off as rapidly as possible."
. . . But suddenly I want to quote everything I read.
(Not putting the book up this time, since it's only a green box anyway.)
"Sleep did not come so easily in Newgate.. Barabbas stank and he knew it. Matters have come to a terrible pass when the stench and toxicity of one's own perspiration are enough to make one nauseous. "
"Ignoring a legion of forbidding notices and signs and heaving themselves over innumerable gates and fences, they eventually clambered down beside the river. Moon wrinkled his nose at the omnipresent smell of decay, treading as carefully as he could along the bank as the filth and muck of the Thames oozed over his shoes.
'Mud,'Cribb said, sounding just as he had on London Bridge . . . 'Glorious mud -- . . .
'We've passed through the city's bowels. Now we walk the span of her intestine.'
'A century from now all this will be torn down, this testament to industry, toil and sweat. In its place great temples are built, monuments to wealth, avarice and power.'"
Page 137 of 353
(The clue for me, to remember what this is about: giant ugly head just unearthed from strata so deep that London hadn't even existed. )
and then . . .
Moon returns to his hotel, where he runs into an old acquaintance.
"'What are you doing here?'
'I've tracked you down,' Speight said proudly.
Moon blinked, still not entirely certain that this exchange was really happening. 'What can I do for you?'
'To be honest . . .money. . . I've had nowhere to doss down. Things are difficult. You were always so kind to me --'
Moon cut him off, reached into his pocket and passed the man a pound note. 'Here, spend it wisely.'
'Actually,' Speight admitted, 'I'll only spend it on drink.'
Moon pushed past him and clambered up the steps to his hotel. 'Frankly, Mr. Speight, just at the moment, I'd happily join you.'
'Something the matter?' Speight seemed genuinely concerned.
'Have you ever had everything you ever believed in ruined in a few hours?'
'Can't say I have, sir, no.'
'Have you ever seen all logic and reason dissolve before your eyes?'
'Again, sir -- I'd have to say no.'
'Have you ever been thrust into the most acute existential crisis by the sheer impossibility of the truth?'
The beggar gave Moon an embarrassed look. 'P'raps you'd better have a lie-down, sir. Thanks again for the cash.'
With a heavy sigh, the conjuror stepped inside."