This is the book you read to pad your reading statistics. Not really kidding, as the book is short and half of it is the first two chapters of Beartown.
Mom suggested this book to me. I enjoyed A Man Called Ove, and Beartown was a hard but good read. This one, she said, was a "nice story."
It's less than a 30 minute read. Might have been a 20 minute read.
It's a nice story.
Babbit got scared sometimes, and then it got to sit on the red chair. It might not be clinically proven that sitting on a red chair makes you less scared, but Babbit didn’t know that.
I was born here but I’ve never gotten used to it; Helsingborg and I will never find peace. Maybe everyone feels that way about their hometown: the place we’re from never apologizes, never admits that it was wrong about us. It just sits there, at the end of the motorway, whispering: “You might be all rich and powerful now. And maybe you do come home with expensive watches and fancy clothes. But you can’t fool me, because I know who you really are.
And sometimes the hometown doesn't remember who you are because you have become more than you were as a child.
"You’re just a scared little boy.”
It wasn’t the car crash that brought me to the hospital, I was there long before that. Cancer. I’d met the girl for the first time six days earlier, when I was smoking on the fire escape so the nurses wouldn’t see me. They went on and on about smoking, as though it would have time to kill me.
I know what you’re thinking: what a bastard I am. And you’re right. But the vast majority of successful people don’t become bastards, we were bastards long before. That’s why we’ve been successful.
Every parent will take five minutes in the car outside the house from time to time, just sitting there. Just breathing and gathering the strength to head back inside to all of their responsibilities. The suffocating expectation of being good, coping. Every parent will take ten seconds in the stairwell occasionally, key in hand, not putting it in the lock. I was honest, I only waited a moment before I ran.
You’re your mother’s son. She was smarter than me, I never quite forgave her for that.
“Are you brave too?”
“Everyone always says I’m so brave.” Her eyelids fluttered.
So I replied honestly: “Don’t be brave. If you’re scared, be scared. All survivors are.”
You see history, I see development, you see nostalgia, I see weakness.
You were always someone who could be happy. You don’t know how much of a blessing that is.
Weak people always look at people like me and say, “He’s rich, but is he happy?” As though that was a relevant measure of anything.
Happy people don’t get obsessed, they don’t devote their lives to curing illnesses or making planes take off. The happy leave nothing behind. They live for the sake of living, they’re only on earth as consumers.
It’s bloody awful to admit to yourself that you’re not the kind of person you’ve always thought you were.
“You never get your child’s attention back,” your mother once said. “The time when they don’t just listen to you to be nice, that time passes, it’s the first thing to go.”
That’s what fathers do, they sit in front of their sons and tell their son’s stories to a third person rather than letting them speak for themselves.
A second is always a second; that’s the one definitive value we have on earth. Everyone is always negotiating, all of the time. You’re doing the deal of your life, every day. This was mine.
“I’m scared,” I admitted, but she shook her head.
“You’re not scared. You’re just grieving. No one tells you humans that your sorrow feels like fear.”
“What are we grieving?”