Friday, June 03, 2011

Quotes for Friday from Mia Couto's Every Man is a Race

It's been almost a month since I brought you this weekly feature. As you are, by now, aware, I have bee away for sometime. Today's quotes comes from a writer whose way with words is so unique that I believe I can correctly predict every line as his, when 'blindly' quoted. Mia Couto is known for his lyrical stories. He epitomises the originality of storytelling where the teller in his/her telling leaves room for the reader/listener to make his own meaning from the tell.

A man's story is always badly told. That's because a person never stops being born.
(Page 10 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

A poor man can't bribe his way to his fate. He invents expectations for himself, unreachable places and times.
(Page 11 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

It's the sea that causes islands to be round.
(Page 16 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

Which is the best family? The unknown relatives of strangers. Only those ones count. With the others, our blood relatives, we have debts from the day we are born.
(Page 16 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

A rogue doesn't cut another rogue's hair.
(Page 21 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

Death had become so common that only life inspired terror. To avoid notice, survivors imitated death. As they couldn't find enough victims, the bandoleers dragged the corpses from their graves to hack them about again.
(Page 21 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

...can you warn a lizard that the stone under him is hot?
(Page 22 in The private apocalypse of Uncle Gegue)

Envy is the worst snake: it bites with the teeth of the very victim
(Page 42 in The Russian princess)

But you've never seen a hell like that one. We pray to God to save us from hell after we die. But, when all is said and done, hell is where we live, we step on its flames, and we bear with us a soul full of scars.
(Page 44 in The Russian princess)

It's always like that: one's judgement grows thin more quickly than one's body.
(Page 54 in The blind fisherman)

But you can't tell the height of a tree by the size of its shadow.
(Page 54 in The blind fisherman), the whole of it, is one extended birth.
(Page 60 in Woman of me)

...the dead, the living, and those awaiting their birth, make up one large canvas. The frontier between territories can be summed up as fragile, moving. In dreams, we are all enclosed in the same space, there where time yields to total absence. Our dreams are no more than visits to these other past and future lives, conversations with the unborn and the deceased, in the language of unreason which we all speak.
(Page 60 in Woman of me)

The yet-to-be-born, those who are waiting for a body, are the ones we should fear most. For we know almost nothing of them. From the dead, we still go on getting messages, we take kindly to their familiar shadows. But what we are never aware of is when our soul is made up of these other, transvisible spirits. These are the pre-born, and they don't forgive us for inhabiting the light side of existence. They couple together the most perverse expectation, their powers pull downwards. They seek to make us return, insisting on keeping us in their company.
(Page 60 in Woman of me)

...courage without cunning is mere audaciousness.
(Page 66 in The legend of the foreigner's bride)

The two lovers were like two flowers flowing in one current. But they were fulfilling the destiny of all rivers, that slowly disappear inside their own waters.
(Page 68 in The legend of the foreigner's bride)

It's betrayal which pulls vengeance in its wake, .... You should be against betrayal if you want to avoid vengeance.
(Page 70 in The legend of the foreigner's bride)

Man believes he's huge, almost touching the heavens. But if he reaches places, it's only because he's living in a borrowed size, his height is a debt he owed to altitude.
(Page 70 in The flagpoles of Beyondwards)

The sun walked barefoot over the plain, dragging its daytime feet across the landscape.
(Page 92 in The seated shadow)

He greeted me with words of warning: a country that no longer travels no longer dreams.
(Page 92/93 in The seated shadow)

To laugh without teeth is like drinking beer without foam.
(Page 93 in The seated shadow)

... if you throw up beer, your relatives will visit you ; throw up blood, and you won't see people for dust.
(Page 105 in Whites)


  1. These are beautiful quotes from Mia Cuoto, one author I know I must read him.


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