The book is a series of letters*, and I'm sort of fascinated by that form, by how Robinson managed to tell a cohesive story (or rather, set of stories) through a series of one-sided letters to a handful of people. For me, it got a little tedious by the end, but I'll admit that likely had more to do with my slow pace in reading it than with any flaw in the book itself.
I marked the passages I liked as I read, but I quickly realized that most of those passages have little impact out of context. Here's a brief sampling, though, anyway.
My mother actually thinks she's an authority on parenting. Can you believe that? Look at me! Look at Jim! ... Maybe we're all born with a protective mental coating like a pomegranate seed has, an invisible placenta that prevents reality from piercing our tender brains, that allows us to fool ourselves until our last breath, that lets us actually believe that one day we'll be discovered and one day we'll be rich, one day the world will see our hidden genius, that lets me believe that somewhere in the recesses of your sweet heart and hard head you still care for me.
I was arguing with my mother about false hope the other day. I said hope is neither false nor true but a kind of happiness in itself, a fuel that carries us toward our dreams. You feel better when you're knee-deep in hope for something, whether it's for the love of someone, for a promotion, for a baby, for a clean bill of health...
I'd include more, but to set up the quote with the explanation of why I appreciated it would take more energy than my tired head is feeling able to muster at the moment. If you you want to know more about this one (and you can ignore the rampant misuse of "it's" vs. "its" and the occasional comment from a lunatic nitpicking against small offenses of artistic license and the like), then the reviews at Amazon might be immeasurably more helpful than I.
Two more thoughts, though, before I quit my babbling and just call it a night. First, if you have any intention of reading this book and you haven't read Don Quixote, you might want to do that first. No, I take that back. I haven't actually read Don Quixote myself, and as it's one of those books deemed among the "most important works of influential literature," it may actually be painful and tediously boring.** Instead then, you might want to read the Wikipedia recap of Don Quixote. It didn't occur to me to seek this out until I was nearly finished with The Hunt Sisters, and I really think I could have glossed over a little less of the "shop talk" if I had. (Throughout the novel, the narrator is trying to get a film production of Quixote made, and all the discussions of script re-writes and plot revisions would have made a lot more sense to me had I actually been familiar with that story in any way.)
I said there were two thoughts, didn't I? Oh yeah. Here's the second. I'd like to thank -R- for the additional subtext inadvertently contributed to the story as I read pages 67-69***, during which the narrator gets serenaded by an actor and his banjo as a precursor to... she knows not what. I read that, and, thanks to a story -R- told a few months back, all I could think was "Banjo Sex!" So thanks, -R-, for that. No really; thanks a lot. Incidentally, can you believe you are not the #1 Google hit for the search term "banjo sex"? That's gotta be disappointing, I have to say. I wonder how many times I would have to type that to make myself the #1 hit instead...
Banjo sex. Banjo sex. Banjo sex.
That oughta do it, don't you think?
* Which those of you smarter (and more worthy of your English degrees) than I might know is called an epistolary novel. (I'll admit I just learned that word myself shortly after starting this example of the form.)
** I've already admitted twice in one post that I might need to surrender my English degree. Might as well go one further by claiming that not everything in the canon is in any way actually enjoyable to read.
*** Of the hard-bound first edition; my apologies if page numbers don't correlate in other versions.