But novelists write for countless reasons: for money, for fame, for reviewers, for parents, for friends, for loved ones; for vanity, for pride, for curiosity, for amusement: as skilled furniture makers enjoy making furniture, as drunkards like drinking, as judges like judging, as Sicilians like emptying a shotgun into an enemy’s back. I could fill a box with reasons, and they would all be true, though not true of all. Only one same reason is shared by all of us: we wish to create as real as, but other than the world that is. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
To know you do not know is to know a great deal.
Wisdom consists in knowing there is no such thing. (Joseph Heller, from Picture This)
By the river. She was standing by the river. She was dancing without moving. By the river. She wasn’t beautiful exactly; she was like a shimmer in the distance. She was so white his reservation eyes suffered. (Sherman Alexie, from “All I Wanted to do Was Dance”)
Hey, look at that! I’m back in Arizona and I picked up almost two months’ worth of comics! Yeah, I’m not going to review them properly here – that would take waaaaaaaay too long. This is more of a “What I bought and the random thoughts I have about the issues and, why not, what I did in Pennsylvania for seven-and-a-half weeks.” Can you handle that??????
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Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be defined by. (A. S. Byatt, from Possession)
For Vida, that moment was the beginning of happiness, and in that happiness, like some kind of disease, the beginning of her titanic jealousy, which stayed with her forever and finally drove her to her grave. Because one dies of happiness sooner than of misery. (Milorad Pavić, from Landscape Painted With Tea)
Thanks to the mild weather, the trees retained their foliage longer than usual. Red and gold, ocher and amber leaped to the eye. How beautifully the leaves aged on ten thousand twigs! No politics could produce such glory in a forest. Only so natural and simple a thing as death. (Frederic Morton, from A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889)
“Do you know what it is to throw a child in the air and catch it on a knife in front of its mother? To be tied to a burning log? To have your ass split with an axe so that you beg the Serbs, beg them, to shoot you in the head and they don’t?
“And they go to their church after. They go to their goddamn church. I have no words …”
Ismail shuddered. “There are things that are beyond evil, that you just can’t speak about.” (Robert Kaplan, from Balkan Ghosts)
“You remember those birds that were getting sucked into the jet engines? Sometimes I lie in bed at three or four in the morning and I imagine myself flying miles above the earth, very cold, and one of those black secret spy planes is up there with the huge round engines with the spinning blades in it, the blades that look like the underside of mushrooms? The black plane’s going very fast and I’m going very fast in the opposite direction and we intersect, and I fly right through one of those jet engines, and I exit as this long fog of blood. I’m miles long, and, because it’s so cold, I’m crystalline. Very long arms, you’ll be pleased to hear. And then I recondense in bed, sshhp, as my short warm self. It must have something to do with my estrogen level. But that’s what telephone travel would be like out there, I think. What am I saying, that’s what it is like.” (Nicholson Baker, from Vox)
If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. (Ernest Hemingway, from A Farewell to Arms)
What can be broken, should be broken. (Dimitri Pisarev, 1840-1868)
“I’d like to change the world, but I end up as entertainment. Whereas all you lovers” — he spoke the word contemptuously — “who couldn’t give a fuck about the world as long as you’re feeling passionate, you’re the ones who make the cities burn and the nations tumble. You’re the engines in the tragedy, and most of the time you don’t even know it.” (Clive Barker, from Imajica)
“Keep away, keep away,” Hungry Joe screamed. “I said keep away, keep away, you goddam stinking lousy son of a bitch.”
“At least we found out what he dreams about,” Dunbar observed wryly. “He dreams about goddam stinking lousy sons of bitches.” (Joseph Heller, from Catch-22)