‘She could not write to Roman in prison about what she felt for him, about her hunger for him, because he was unable to read. She wished she had taught him, the way she had been taught, so he could escape his solitude, but he had always returned from work exhausted.’

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

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‘Roman would put out his hand and she’d hold it with both of hers and he would pull her off the table into the air. He was an older, stronger man, nothing like the boy, and she saw his eyes lost in bitterness and frustration, in a fury about the state of their lives. He would fling a chair into the wall of curtain that divided their one room, and she knew it could just as easily have been her body that was thrown towards that dark corner.’

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

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‘In spite of her desire for a contained universe, her life felt scattered, full of many small moments, without great purpose. That is what she thought, though what is most untrustworthy about our natures and self-worth is how we differ in our own realities from the way we are see by others… We relive stories and see ourselves only as the watcher or listener, the drummer in the background keeping cadence.’

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

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‘This is where I learned that sometimes we enter art to hide within it. It is where we can go to save ourselves, where a third-person voice protects us. Just as there is, in the real landscape of Paris in Les Misérables, that small fictional Street Victor Hugo provides for Jean Valjean to slip into, in which to hide from his pursuers.’

– Micahel Ondaatje, Divisadero

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‘They already had too much knowledge of him. They’d selected him before he knew of their existence – long before his first sighting of Bridget at Jocko’s. He had never been invisible. And Bridget was there only to bring him to Tahoe, with the crook of her finger, with a swirl from her sea-green skirt. He saw another version of their romance, where the only thing being gratified and comforted was him, not her. He saw himself in the frame, surrounded by the con.’

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

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‘He can almost see the clearing in the forest where they took her that morning. They slipped her into the ground within three hours, so she lived the briefest death on the earth, as if earth were a boat that forced a quick embarkation. They had brought her back to the landscape she was most fond of. It was about five in the morning, and the bird life was wild around them, as if it was his mother’s leaving.’

– Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

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