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The World to Come

Dara Horn

Top 10 Best Quotes

“I believe that when people die, they go to the same place as all the people who haven’t yet been born. That’s why it’s called the world to come, because that’s where they make the new souls for the future. And the reward when good people die” – her mother paused, swallowed, paused again – “the reward when good people die is that they get to help make the people in their families who haven’t been born yet. They pick out what kinds of traits they want the new people to have – they give them all the raw material of their souls, like their talents and their brains and their potential. Of course it’s up to the new ones, once they’re born, what they’ll use and what they won’t, but that’s what everyone who dies is doing, I think. They get to decide what kind of people the new ones might be able to become.”

“Children are often envied for their supposed imaginations, but the truth is that adults imagine things far more than children do. Most adults wander the world deliberately blind, living only inside their heads, in their fantasies, in their memories and worries, oblivious to the present, only aware of the past or future.”

“Hair in darkness doesn’t feel the way it does in light. In light, you can touch a person’s hair and not feel it at all - you might think you are feeling it, but really you are seeing its color, seeing its shape, seeing the light and the shadows intertwined between the hair and your own hands. But in darkness, her hair poured across his palms like molten music between his fingers. Skin in darkness is different, too. In light, you don’t notice skin, distracted as you are by eyes watching you, eyes you are afraid to trust, eyes that could be waiting for your shame. But in pure darkness, her skin was warm and trembling and alive - secret whorled passageways of ears, soft fingertips tracing circles on his neck, the living heartbeat-shudders of falling-closed eyelids, cheeks erupting into lips and giving way to his tongue. And in light you don’t think of how warm a person is, of how a person can enfold you, enclose you amid arms and clothes and ribs in pure primeval underground darkness, the heat between you glowing like an ember that you are afraid to put out.”

“Time itself is created through deeds of true kindness.”

“His dreams contained no stories at all, but only the hard stones of thoughts: the unimaginably unlikely coincidence of being alive at the same time as the love of your life, the frequency with which a person was expected to bear the body and the burden of someone else, the idiocy of thinking that kindness can protect the person who is kind, and worst of all, the bottomless pit of truth that he had suddenly, sickeningly seen: that the world to come was not an afterlife at all, but simply this world, to come- the future world, your own future, that you were creating for yourself with every choice you made in it.”

“...she smiled - and time was created.”

“There is a moment that has happened over and over again, in every place children have ever slept, on every dark night for the past ten thousand years, that almost everyone who was once a child will forever remember. It happens when you are being tucked into bed, on a dark and frightened night when the sounds of the nighttime outside are drowned out only by the far more frightening sounds in your head. You have already gone to bed, have tried to go to bed, but because of whatever sounds you hear in your head you have failed to go to bed, and someone much older than you, someone so old that you cannot even imagine yourself becoming that old, has come to sit beside you and make sure you fall asleep. But the moment that everyone who was once a child will remember is not the story the unfathomably old person tells you, or the lullaby he sings for you, but rather the moment right after the story or song has ended. You are lying there with your eyes closed, not sleeping just yet but noticing that the sounds inside your head seem to have vanished, and you know, through closed eyes, that the person beside you thinks that you are asleep and is simply watching you. In that fraction of an instant between when that person stops singing and when that person decides to rise from the bed and disappear -- a tiny rehearsal, though you do not know it yet, of what will eventually happen for good -- time holds still, and you can feel, through closed eyes, how that person, watching your still, small face in the darkness, has suddenly realized that you are the reason his life matters. And Sara would give her right leg and her left just to live through that moment one more time.”

“Do you think I'm deaf?" the deaf beggar asked. "I'm not deaf at all. It's just that it isn't worth hearing a whole world full of people complaining about what they lack." He told the story of a wealthy country where people believed they were living 'the good life.' The country had a garden of riches, of so many sights and smells and sounds that the people in the country literally lost their senses, spoiled by everything they had already seen and heard and smelled and tasted and touched, until the beggar taught them how to use their senses again.”

“Before being born, his mother explained, babies go to school. Not a school like Boris’s, but a different kind of school, where all the teachers are angels. The angels teach each baby the entire Torah, along with all of the secrets of the universe. Then, just before each baby is born, an angel puts its finger right below the baby’s nose—here she paused to put her finger across his lips (could he see the blood under her skin, or did he only imagine it?)—and whispers to the child: Shh—don’t tell. And then the baby forgets. “Why does he have to forget?” Boris had asked, moving his lips beneath her finger. He didn’t want to know, not really. But his mother’s back had stiffened, and he could feel that she might get up at any moment, put out the light, walk away, disappear. She pulled her hand away from his face, resting it on her own stomach. “So that for the rest of his life,” she said, “he will always have to pay attention to the world, and to everything that happens in it, to try to remember all the things he’s forgotten.”

“School is a terrible place, I have decided. There is nothing good about it except for math class. Everything else is a total waste of time. As I mentioned before I have done a lot of reading about prisons, and I notice that they always describe them as painted in very dull colors, and my school is also painted in these kinds of colors, with greenish lockers and brownish walls and grayish floors. Actually they recently fixed up one wing of the school, and now that part of the school is just the opposite—all the colors are really bright, with bright red and yellow lockers and blue doors and shiny white floors that are already all scuffed up. It's funny because I thought the other colors were terrible but these are much worse, because they make it seem like it's normal to be happy there when it isn't.”

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Book Keywords:

kindness, school, time, attention, myth

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