🇺🇸 Learn English the Hard Way with “Mother Night”

Chances are you are looking for improving your English language comprehension through reading books.

I know the drill. Take me right to the sentences.

Feel like upping your game and start catching the slightest subtleties of English?

Look no further.

However, there is a catch.


Who is this article intended for?

For English language learners, as they, all too often, tend to skip a lot of subtleties while reading books / reading stories / reading comics / watching movies /watching game movies, thus slowing down and negating their language progress. I

The catch has to do with the “THE HARD WAY” of learning English, right?

I can’t promise improving your English through this article will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it, provided you work through ALL THE SENTENCES down below. And by the way, to make it even more challenging for you, no answers are given and you are to find them on your own. There’s a reason this article is called “Learn English the Hard Way”, don’t you think?

Still no clue what I’m supposed to do…

If you’re still not really sure what’s going on here, I highly recommend you read the description of “Learn English the Hard Way” challenge.

russia-flag Для чего эта статья и что нужно здесь делать?

По своему опыту могу сказать, что когда в освоении английского приходишь на всё готовенькое, то интеллектуально расслабляешься и не особо вникаешь в детали и тонкости языка.

А вот когда, мы “пропускаем язык через себя”…

  1. внимательное чтение книг, просмотр фильмов, т.д… не знаем, что то или то означает, почему так написано, вообще не догоняем, что происходит, значит отмечаем находку
  2. анализ “любопытных” предложений, конструкций, выражений (грамматика и прагматика наши лучшие друзья)
  3. прогонка проработанного материала через правое полушарие
  4. задействование “освоенных” предложений, конструкций, выражений на письме, в устной речи (идеально, с носителями языка)
    …то результаты будут совершенно иными, нежели чем “со всем готовеньким”.

А именно, выработка силы воли, языковой интуиции, внимательности, любопытства и реальное улучшение навыка английского языка.

Ниже представлены предложения, которые заинтриговали меня при прочтении книги / прочтении рассказа / прочтении комикса / просмотре фильма / просмотре игрофильма. То есть, я сделал первый пункт из четырех выше и поделился результатами с Вами. За Вами остаются остальные три.


If you feel like up to the challenge, then below is my list of the cherry-picked sentences with curious grammar and vocabulary findings from the book “Mother Night”.

Study hard!

There’s another clear moral to this tale, now that I think about it: When you’re dead you’re dead.

He remembers the war, all right, though he doesn’t like to.

I thought you were a master of racial invective!

“What could be worse than Hell?” he said.

Purgatory,” I said.

“And you talked about New York,” said Mengel. “You mumbled, and then you said ‘New York,’ and then you mumbled some more.

I continued to inhabit that attic until a month ago, when I was brought to Israel for trial.

a child’s cry that never failed to make me stop and listen.

mutilated women, bodies stacked like cord-wood —all the usual furniture of world wars.

agents were said to be looking high and low for me.

All three plays were medieval romances, about as political as chocolate éclairs.

He looked like a fool and a gasbag.

None of your beeswax, eh?

“You mind if I come over there, so we don’t have to holler?”

I’m not too let-down, actually

“We’ll see,” I said tautly.

and nobody saw the honest me I hid so deep inside.

They did not disinherit me, though they must have been bitterly tempted to do so

They bequeathed to Howard W. Campbell, Jr., the notorious anti-Semite, turncoat and radio star, stocks

By buying the recreation kits, each one a sealed pig-in-a-poke, I came into possession of twenty-six recordings of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”

I had a handsome set of chessmen to show for my labors.

It was dumb luck that brought us together.

After that, Kraft and I played at least three games a day, every day for a year. And we built up between ourselves a pathetic sort of domesticity that we both felt need of.

“You can talk for hours on end.”

Blather,” I said.

“Not blather!” he said hotly

I actually held them in supreme contempt.

Be a matchmaker to your heart’s content.

He’d annoyed me, and I went down the stairs to my mailbox, simply to walk off my annoyance.

who had captured me at the end of the war, who had frog-walked me through the death camp at Ohrdruf

and when five loaded pistols and a bayonet were found under his mattress, Jones was finally given the old heave-ho

He seems to have been content to confine his remarks on racial matters to workroom jests about certain cadavers, jests that would have seemed workaday in the most liberal of embalming establishments

It is quite possible, incidentally, that much of his more scurrilous material was written by me.

KRAPPTAUER, on his own initiative, went down all those stairs to get my Helga’s luggage from Jones’ limousine.

“That’s quite a uniform,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

Would it be rude of me to ask what it represents?” he said. I had never worn it in his presence.

“I never missed a broadcast.”

I didn’t know that,” I said.

No one knows everything,” he said.

and I went calling on my in-laws, on the family of Werner Noth, the Chief of Police of Berlin.

was to be made to feel like a fool. She had been given her opportunity to participate in civilization, and she had muffed it.

“You’ll die,” she said.

So I hear,” I said. “Maybe not.”

“You’re going to bury it?” he said.

I suppose I’d better,” I said.

The poor woman, made into sausage by unkind time

Westlake went to some trouble to find out what crimes Noth had committed, and he concluded that Noth had been no better and no worse than any other big city chief of police.

I didn’t really steal it. I just borrowed it for all eternity from Heinz Schildknecht, my ping-pong doubles partner, my closest friend in Germany.

I had a watch, a typewriter, and a bicycle, and that was about it

“If anything ever happens to the motorcycle,” he said to me, “I am a pauper.”

I picked up the book manuscript, a bizarre experiment called Memoirs of a Monogamous Casanova.

“This you should have burned,” I said.

I would just as gladly burn my own right arm,” she said.

“Maybe they put it in the dead man’s pocket.”

That’s it!” cried Kraft, and he scuttled out the door.

I was lavish in my courtliness, and my Helga was no less grand in her respect and gratitude.

I was also carrying, for whimsy, a cane.

“People should be changed by world wars,” I said, “else what are world wars for?

Am I entitled to an answer?” she said.

There was a cardboard fireplace, a dime-store’s idea of how to have a merry Christmas

In a final fandango of paranoia and masochism, Szombathy closed his note with a hint that

What is life without friends?” I said.

“Too bad what happened,” he said.

I thought so,” I said

“You’re coming, too?” I said.

Do you mind?” he said.

I had drawn better than I knew.

“I’ve got some advice for you,” he said.

I’d be glad to have it,” I said

And these last-named patriots were right in having confidence.

I could no more lie without noticing it than I could unknowingly pass a kidney stone.

“For God’s sake,” I said. “The last I heard, his studio got hit with a five-hundred-pound bomb.”

You can’t keep a good man down,”

“It would help a lot, a general theme would,”

“Well—what did you think of that war, Campbell?”

I would just as soon have stayed out of it,” I said.

The sun was shining in the mural. The sky was clear. This bucolic scene was about to be shattered.

He was bald, had put on weight.

My imagination isn’t what it used to be

writing a daily column of optimistic doggerel for daily papers around the world.

Generosity doesn’t amount to much in this business,


I took my time about going into that dark place, expecting, with reason, to find anything from an American Legion color guard to a platoon of

Built a house on a lake in Maine with an axe and an adze and my own two hands.

He found the trunk containing your writings in a theater loft. He took the trunk for booty.

Sorry. Not so.

It might make me seem more human at this point, which is to say more sympathetic

I was sufficiently a man of the world, or sufficiently unimaginative—take your choice—to think that a girl that young and pretty and clever would have an entertaining time of it

“What should we be doing?” said a G-man.

There are teeth missing, God knows—some I was born without, teeth that will never grow

This day will go down in history!” said Jones.

Every day goes down in history,” said the boss.

“Why did you save me?” said Kraft.

Call it sentimentality,” said the boss.

“What can any one person do?” he said.

“Each person does a little something,” I said, “and there you are.

the bent and gaping doors of the mailboxes might have been the doors of cells in a jail in a burning city somewhere.

“I’m not kidding you,” I said. “I swear I’m not.

The way they’re going, everything’s possible now, if they just work at it—get the money and get the smartest people and get to work.

Look how some women go half off their nut once a month

an infected atmosphere lanced, made clean, was familiar to me. I had felt it often enough in Berlin.

One time we climbed the stairs to a roofless and windowless home, a home otherwise magically undisturbed.

we realized that we were ordinary people, without dove or covenant, and that the flood, far from being over, had scarcely begun.

“I guess we’ve all had disappointments,” I said. He didn’t respond to this feeble try at brotherhood.

“There wasn’t any way out,” he said. “It had to end like this.”

I don’t see why,” I said.

“Then, by God, I’ll show you why,” he said. “I’ll show you, by God, I was born just to take you apart, right here and now… ”

“I’ll get you yet, brother,” he said.

That may be,” I said. “But it won’t change your destiny of bankruptcies

THE DOOR of my ratty attic had been torn off its hinges, had disappeared entirely.

He wasn’t my nemesis. My game was up long before O’Hare took me into custody

He had apparently been waiting for me a long time, drinking and smoking the while.

He had become less wolf than coyote, I thought.

Just when you think there isn’t any point to life—” he said, “then, all of a sudden, you realize you are being aimed right straight at something.”

He called me a yellow-belly

Look at you! Came to kill evil with your bare hands, and now away you go with no more glory than a man sideswiped by a Greyhound bus!

It can’t wait?” he said

I’d rather it didn’t,” I said.

Whence this respectability for Heinz, who, after all, worked at a desk next to mine in the Ministry of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment?

I know that tonight is the night.

Too bad that I, like my father, unlike my musical mother, am tone-deaf

Wow, it seems you’ve made it to the end of this new-vocabulary-grammar-intensive article… But did you actually work through all the findings?  No shirking? Sweet! That’s what I call being persistent at mastering English!


russia-flag Вы дочитали и проработали статью до конца? Так держать!

Если Вы дочитали до конца эту статью, то я уверен, что Вы узнали много нового про английский язык (при условии, что Вы действительно проработали предложения выше).

Проработать так много материала это совсем не шутки, а вполне серьёзный подход к делу.

Теперь же дело за малым: эффективно всё перенести в речевой актив и начать всласть применять новые знания на практике (пункт 3 и 4, соответсвенно).

Спасибо за то, что уделили время.

Удачи в Вашем языковом путешествии!


I am crazy enough to do the whole nine-yards over again. Please bring me to the beginning of the sentences. Yeah!

Did you know that you are more than encouraged to go ahead and tell me in the comments section below how the whole process went?

With that, thanks for taking your time accepting the challenge, reading and working through the article.

Until next time!


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