I’ll be reviewing this book tomorrow, but in its 900+ pages there were so many wonderful passages I wanted to share some of them. Hopefully these will give you a taste of the book and you’ll come back tomorrow for my review.
“When we’re young, we think that suffering is something that’s done to us. When we get older – when the steel door slams shut, in one way or another – we know that real suffering is measured by what’s taken away from us.” Chapter 14
The only victory that really counts in prison, an old-timer in the Australian jail once said to me, is survival. But survival means more than simply being alive. It’s not just the body that must survive a jail term: the spirit and the will and the heart have to make it through as well. If any one of them is broken or destroyed , the man whose living body walks through the gate, at the end of his sentence, can’t be said to have survived it. And it’s for those small victories of the heart, and the spirit, and the will that we sometimes risk the body that cradles them. Chapter 20
“Lin, a man has to find a good woman, and when he finds her he has to win her love. Then he has to earn her respect. Then he has to cherish her trust. And then he has to, like, go on doing that for as long as they live. Until they both die. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the most important thing in the world. That’s what a man is, yaar.” Chapter 29
Lettie had once said that she found it strange and incongruous to hear me describe criminals, killers, and mafiosi as men of honour. The confusion, I think, was hers, not mine. She’d confused honour with virtue. Virtue is concerned with what we do, and honour is concerned with how we do it. You can fight a war in an honourable way – the Geneva Convention exists for that very reason – and you can enforce the peace without any honour at all. In its essence, honour is the art of being humble. And gangsters, just like cops, politicians, soldiers, and holy men, are only ever good at what they do if they stay humble. Chapter 39