A Lifetime's Reading: The World's 500 Greatest Books by Philip Ward

By Philip Ward

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Sample text

He didn’t ask these questions out loud, deciding that the belief of his beautiful teacher was more important than his own hungry suspicions. As he sat with Ms. Winter, the silence began to grow uncomfortable, so he asked her, more out of a desire to appear intelligent and devout than any real interest in the subject, if people became guardian angels after they died. Ms. Winter sighed. “You must miss your brother,” she said. Owen was flustered. His question had not meant to refer to Hugh. every visib¬e t˙ing 55 He rarely thought about his brother anymore, it was the space left behind that concerned him.

He holds the cigarette with his thumb and two fingers, drags deeply and looks around, bouncing his knee up and down like he can’t bear to sit still. At the nape of his neck is a braid so small and delicate it is like the hair of a doll. “Whatcha writing ? ” he says, peering rudely at my binder. I shut it and cap my pen. “Nothing,” I say, and he chuckles. ” “How do you know? ” “You can’t know everyone,” I argue. ” “Ev-er-y-one,” he repeats, dragging each syllable out with a tired emphasis. “I’m from Brookline,” I say.

There is a silence of disbelief. “If you’re confused, though, it’s important to find someone you can talk to,” he says. He doesn’t seem to be volunteering. “Are you gay? ” Danny says suddenly, and the room gasps at his boldness. Mr. Gabriel looks confused, then angry, then mortified. “That’s none of your business,” he says. He turns around and begins to erase the blackboard which he has filled with a list of terms none of them will remember tomorrow. “But I’m not,” he adds. He launches into pregnancy, warning them that they’ll be watching a video on childbirth next Friday.

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