p. 3: Melodramatic maybe, it seems to me now. But then it was like throwing a million bricks out of my heart when I threw the book into the water. I leaned over the rail of the S.S. Malone and threw the books as far as I could out into the sea—all the books I had had at Columbia, and all the books I had lately bought to read.
The books went down into the moving water in the dark off Sandy Hook. Then I straightened up, turned my face to the wind, and took a deep breath. I was a seaman going to sea for the first time—a seaman on a big merchant ship. And I felt that nothing would ever happen to me again that I didn’t want to happen. I felt grown, a man, inside and out. Twenty one.
… I looked down on deck and noticed that one of the books had fallen into the scupper. The last book. I picked it up and threw it far over the rail into the water below, that was too black to see. The wind caught the book and ruffled its pages quickly, then let it fall into the rolling darkness. I think it was a book by H. L. Mencken.
p. 58, with his father in Mexico City: So I began to learn Spanish fairly well, at least well enough to get about and meet people, and to read the novels of Blasco Ibáňez, whose Cuentos Valencianos I liked very much. And the terrific realism of Canos y Barro still sticks in my head.
I didn’t do much that summer but read books, … feel lonesome and write poems when I felt most lonesome.
p. 94-95, on guard duty on Hudson River mothballed fleet: Those long winter nights with snow swirling down the Hudson, and the old ships rocking and creaking in the wind, and the ice scraping and crunching against their sides, and the steam hissing in the radiators were ideal for reading. I read all the ship’s library. I found there Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and d’Annunzio’s The Flame of Life.
p. 97-98, returning to the opening scene on p. 3: I’d left a box of books in Harlem in the fall, and before we sailed I went after them. I brought them aboard ship with me. But when I opened them up and looked at them that night off Sandy Hook, they seemed too much like everything I had known in the past, like the attics and basements in Cleveland, like the lonely nights in Toluca, like the dormitory at Columbia, like the furnished room in Harlem, like too much reading all the time when I was a kid, like life isn’t, as described in romantic prose; so that night, I took them all out on deck and threw them overboard. It was like throwing a million bricks out of my heart—for it wasn’t only the books that I wanted to throw away, but everything unpleasant and miserable out of my past….
p. 129—he read d’Annunzio’s The Flame of Life on his trip up the Hudson.
p. 150, on Jake Baker, an erotic books collector.