[My dad] didn't do much apart from the traditional winning of bread. He didn't take me to get my hair cut or my teeth cleaned; he didn't make the appointments. He didn't shop for my clothes. He didn't make my breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My mom did all of those things, and nobody ever told her when she did them that it made her a good mother.
evening quotesrode quotesdowntown quotesunaccountably quotesempty quotesbus quotessitting quotesrow quotesfront quotesthin quotescloud quotessmoke quotesrising quotesdrivers quoteshead quoteshey quotesbus quotesdriver quotescan quotessmoke quotesmay quotesi quotesdriver quotesi quoteslove quotesyou quotes
The problems you have as a novelist tend to have to do with making a living and trying to find ways to supplement the income you get from writing novels. For a lot of writers, that involves teaching. In my case, so far, I've been able to get by working in Hollywood with this TV stuff I've been doing. And it's very important, because my wife is a writer, too, and we don't have health insurance through any employer.
problems quotesnovelist quotestend quotesmaking quotesliving quotesfind quotesways quotessupplement quotesincome quoteswriting quotesnovels quoteslot quoteswriters quotesinvolves quotesteaching quotescase quotesworking quoteshollywood quotestv quotesstuff quotesimportant quoteswife quoteswriter quoteshealth quotesinsurance quotesemployer quotes
It was the kind of promise a father makes easily and sincerely, knowing at the same time that it will be impossible to keep. The truth of some promises is not as important as whether or not you can believe in them, with all your heart. A game of baseball can't really make a summer day last forever. A home run can't really heal all the broken places in our world, or in a single human heart. And there was no way that Mr. Feld could keep his promise never to leave Ethan again. All parents leave their children one day.
kind quotespromise quotesfather quotesmakes quoteseasily quotessincerely quotesknowing quotestime quotesimpossible quotestruth quotespromises quotesimportant quotesheart quotesgame quotesbaseball quotesmake quotessummer quotesday quotesforever quoteshome quotesrun quotesheal quotesbroken quotesplaces quotesworld quotessingle quoteshuman quotesmr quotesfeld quotesleave quotesethan quotesparents quoteschildren quotesday quotes
I don't care what is written, " Meyer Landsman says. "I don't care what supposedly got promised to some sandal-wearing idiot whose claim to fame is that he was ready to cut his own son's throat for the sake of a hare-brained idea. I don't care about red heifers and patriarchs and locusts. A bunch of old bones in the sand. My homeland is in my hat. It's in my ex-wife's tote bag.
care quoteswritten quotesmeyer quoteslandsman quotessupposedly quotespromised quotessandalwearing quotesidiot quotesclaim quotesfame quotesready quotescut quotessons quotesthroat quotessake quotesharebrained quotesidea quotesred quotesheifers quotespatriarchs quoteslocusts quotesbunch quotesbones quotessand quoteshomeland quoteshat quotesexwifes quotestote quotesbag quotes
The other day as I was stepping out of Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue with some pork ribs under my arm, the Berkeley sky cloudless, a smell of jasmine in the air, a car driving by with its window rolled down, trailing a sweet ache of the Allman Brothers' "Melissa, " it struck me that in order to have reached only the midpoint of my life I will need to live to be 92. That's pretty old. If you live to be ninety-two, you've done well for yourself. I'd like to be optimistic, and I try to take care of my health, but none of my grandparents even made it past 76, three killed by cancer, one by Parkinson's disease. If I live no longer than any of them did, I have at most thirty years left, which puts me around sixty percent of the way through my time. I am comfortable with the idea of mortality, or at least I always have been, up until now. I never felt the need to believe in heaven or an afterlife. It has been decades since I stopped believing-a belief that was never more than fitful and self-serving to begin with-in the possibility of reincarnation of the soul. I'm not totally certain where I stand on the whole "soul" question. Though I certainly feel as if I possess one, I'm inclined to disbelieve in its existence. I can live with that contradiction, as with the knowledge that my time is finite, and growing shorter by the day. It's just that lately, for the first time, that shortening has become perceptible. I can feel each tiny skyward lurch of the balloon as another bag of sand goes over the side of my basket.
day quotesstepping quotesstar quotesgrocery quotesclaremont quotesavenue quotespork quotesribs quotesarm quotesberkeley quotessky quotescloudless quotessmell quotesjasmine quotesair quotescar quotesdriving quoteswindow quotesrolled quotestrailing quotessweet quotesache quotesallman quotesbrothers quotesmelissa quotesstruck quotesorder quotesreached quotesmidpoint quoteslife quoteslive quotes92 quotespretty quotesninetytwo quotesoptimistic quotescare quoteshealth quotesgrandparents quotesmade quotespast quotes76 quoteskilled quotescancer quotesparkinsons quotesdisease quoteslonger quotesthirty quotesyears quotesleft quotesputs quotessixty quotespercent quotestime quotescomfortable quotesidea quotesmortality quotesfelt quotesheaven quotesafterlife quotesdecades quotesstopped quotesbelievinga quotesbelief quotesfitful quotesselfserving quotesbegin quotespossibility quotesreincarnation quotessoul quotestotally quotesstand quotessoul quotesquestion quotesfeel quotespossess quotesinclined quotesdisbelieve quotesexistence quotescontradiction quotesknowledge quotestime quotesfinite quotesgrowing quotesshorter quotesday quotestime quotesshortening quotesperceptible quotestiny quotesskyward quoteslurch quotesballoon quotesbag quotessand quotesside quotesbasket quotes
There are no moments more painful for a parent than those in which you contemplate your child's perfect innocence of some imminent pain, misfortune, or sorrow. That innocence (like every kind of innocence children have) is rooted in their trust of you, one that you will shortly be obliged to betray; whether it is fair or not, whether you can help it or not, you are always the ultimate guarantor or destroyer of that innocence.
moments quotespainful quotesparent quotescontemplate quoteschilds quotesperfect quotesinnocence quotesimminent quotespain quotesmisfortune quotessorrow quoteskind quoteschildren quotesrooted quotestrust quotesshortly quotesobliged quotesbetray quotesfair quotesultimate quotesguarantor quotesdestroyer quotesinnocence quotes
A few other couples joined us on the dance floor and we lost ourselves among them. I'd never been able to figure out exactly what was involved in slow dancing, so I contented myself, as I had since high school, with gripping my partner to me, letting out awkward breaths against her ear, and tipping from foot to foot like someone waiting for a bus. I could feel the sweat cooling on her forearms and smell a trace of apples in her hair.
couples quotesjoined quotesdance quotesfloor quoteslost quotesfigure quotesinvolved quotesslow quotesdancing quotescontented quoteshigh quotesschool quotesgripping quotespartner quotesletting quotesawkward quotesbreaths quotesear quotestipping quotesfoot quoteswaiting quotesbus quotesfeel quotessweat quotescooling quotesforearms quotessmell quotestrace quotesapples quoteshair quotes
The first and last duty of the lover of the game of baseball, " Peavine's book began, "whether in the stands or on the field, is the same as that of the lover of life itself: to pay attention to it. When it comes to the position of catcher, as all but fools and shortstops will freely acknowledge, this solemn requirement is doubled.
As he watched Joe stand, blazing, on the fire escape, Sammy felt an ache in his chest that turned out to be, as so often occurs when memory and desire conjoin with a transient effect of weather, the pang of creation. The desire he felt, watching Joe, was unquestionably physical, but in the sense that Sammy wanted to inhabit the body of his cousin, not possess it. It was, in part, a longing-common enough among the inventors of heroes-to be someone else; to be more than the result of two hundred regimens and scenarios and self-improvement campaigns that always ran afoul of his perennial inability to locate an actual self to be improved. Joe Kavalier had an air of competence, of faith in his own abilities, that Sammy, by means of constant effort over the whole of his life, had finally learned only to fake.
watched quotesjoe quotesstand quotesblazing quotesfire quotesescape quotessammy quotesfelt quotesache quoteschest quotesturned quotesoccurs quotesmemory quotesdesire quotesconjoin quotestransient quoteseffect quotesweather quotespang quotescreation quotesfelt quoteswatching quotesjoe quotesunquestionably quotesphysical quotessense quoteswanted quotesinhabit quotesbody quotescousin quotespossess quotespart quoteslongingcommon quotesinventors quotesheroesto quotesresult quoteshundred quotesregimens quotesscenarios quotesselfimprovement quotescampaigns quotesran quotesafoul quotesperennial quotesinability quoteslocate quotesactual quotesimproved quoteskavalier quotesair quotescompetence quotesfaith quotesabilities quotessammy quotesmeans quotesconstant quoteseffort quoteslife quotesfinally quoteslearned quotesfake quotes
[A]dventures befall the unadventurous as readily, if not as frequently, as the bold. Adventures are a logical and reliable result - and have been since at least the time of Odysseus - of the fatal act of leaving one's home, or trying to return to it again. All adventures happen in that damned and magical space, wherever it may be found or chanced upon, which least resembles one's home. As soon as you have crossed your doorstep or the county line, into that place where the structures, laws, and conventions of your upbringing no longer apply, where the support and approval (but also the disapproval and repression) of your family and neighbors are not to be had: then you have entered into adventure, a place of sorrow, marvels, and regret.
adventures quotesbefall quotesunadventurous quotesreadily quotesfrequently quotesbold quotesadventures quoteslogical quotesreliable quotesresult quotestime quotesodysseus quotesfatal quotesact quotesleaving quotesones quoteshome quotesreturn quotesadventures quoteshappen quotesdamned quotesmagical quotesspace quotesfound quoteschanced quotesresembles quoteshome quotescrossed quotesdoorstep quotescounty quotesline quotesplace quotesstructures quoteslaws quotesconventions quotesupbringing quoteslonger quotesapply quotessupport quotesapproval quotesdisapproval quotesrepression quotesfamily quotesneighbors quotesentered quotesadventure quotessorrow quotesmarvels quotesregret quotes
But then, staring at the label on one crate, which read SWORD-CANE-DLUBECK SHOE TREE-HORA SUITS (3)-HORA ASSORTED HANDKERCHIEFS (6)-HORA Josef felt a bloom of dread in his belly, and all at once he was certain that it was not going to matter one iota how his father and the others behaved. Orderly or chaotic, well inventoried and civil or jumbled and squabbling, the Jews of Prague were dust on the boots of the Germans, to be whisked off with an indiscriminate broom. Stoicism and an eye for detail would avail them nothing. In later years, when he remembered this moment, Josef would be tempted to think that he had suffered a premonition, looking at those mucilage-caked labels, of the horror to come. At the time it was a simpler matter. The hair stood up on the back of his neck with a prickling discharge of ions. His heart pulsed in the hollow of his throat as if someone had pressed there with a thumb. And he felt, for an instant, that he was admiring the penmanship of someone who had died.
staring quoteslabel quotescrate quotesread quotesswordcanedlubeck quotesshoe quotestreehora quotessuits quotes3hora quotesassorted quoteshandkerchiefs quotes6hora quotesjosef quotesfelt quotesbloom quotesdread quotesbelly quotesmatter quotesiota quotesfather quotesbehaved quotesorderly quoteschaotic quotesinventoried quotescivil quotesjumbled quotessquabbling quotesjews quotesprague quotesdust quotesboots quotesgermans quoteswhisked quotesindiscriminate quotesbroom quotesstoicism quoteseye quotesdetail quotesavail quotesyears quotesremembered quotesmoment quotestempted quotessuffered quotespremonition quotesmucilagecaked quoteslabels quoteshorror quotestime quotessimpler quotesmatter quoteshair quotesstood quotesback quotesneck quotesprickling quotesdischarge quotesions quotesheart quotespulsed quoteshollow quotesthroat quotespressed quotesthumb quotesfelt quotesinstant quotesadmiring quotespenmanship quotesdied quotes
The winter drove them mad. It drove every man mad who had ever lived through it; there was only ever the question of degree. The sun disappeared, and you could not leave the tunnels, and everything and everyone you loved was ten thousand miles away. At best, a man suffered from strange lapses in judgment and perception, finding himself at the mirror about to comb his hair with a mechanical pencil, stepping into his undershirt, boiling up a pot of concentrated orange juice for tea. Most men felt a sudden blaze of recovery in their hearts at the first glimpse of a pale hem of sunlight on the horizon in mid-September. But there were stories, apocryphal, perhaps, but far from dubious, of men in past expeditions who sank so deeply into the drift of their own melancholy that they were lost forever. And few among the wives and families of the men who returned from a winter on the Ice would have said what they got back was identical to what they had sent down there.
winter quotesdrove quotesmad quotesman quotesmad quoteslived quotesquestion quotesdegree quotessun quotesdisappeared quotesleave quotestunnels quotesloved quotesten quotesthousand quotesmiles quotessuffered quotesstrange quoteslapses quotesjudgment quotesperception quotesfinding quotesmirror quotescomb quoteshair quotesmechanical quotespencil quotesstepping quotesundershirt quotesboiling quotespot quotesconcentrated quotesorange quotesjuice quotestea quotesmen quotesfelt quotessudden quotesblaze quotesrecovery quoteshearts quotesglimpse quotespale quoteshem quotessunlight quoteshorizon quotesmidseptember quotesstories quotesapocryphal quotesdubious quotespast quotesexpeditions quotessank quotesdeeply quotesdrift quotesmelancholy quoteslost quotesforever quoteswives quotesfamilies quotesreturned quotesice quotesback quotesidentical quotes
All literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction... Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving-amateurs-we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers-should we be lucky enough to find any-some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff that we love: to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.
literature quoteshighbrow quoteslow quotesaeneid quotesonward quotesfan quotesfiction quotesparody quotespastiche quotesallusion quoteshomage quotesretelling quotesreimagining quotesstories quotestold quotesage quoteslovingamateurswe quotesproceed quotesseeking quotesblank quotesplaces quotesmap quotesfavorite quoteswriters quotesgreatness quotesnegligence quotesleft quoteshoping quotespass quotesreadersshould quoteslucky quotesfind quotesanysome quotespleasure quotesstuff quoteslove quotesgame quotesnovels quotessequels quotesinfluence quotesbliss quotes
He has the memory of a convict, the balls of a fireman, and the eyesight of a housebreaker. When there is crime to fight, Landsman tears around Sitka like a man with his pant leg caught on a rocket. It's like there's a film score playing behind him, heavy on the castanets. The problem comes in the hours when he isn't working, when his thoughts start blowing out the open window of his brain like pages from the blotter. Sometimes it takes a heavy paperweight to pin them down.
memory quotesconvict quotesballs quotesfireman quoteseyesight quoteshousebreaker quotescrime quotesfight quoteslandsman quotestears quotessitka quotesman quotespant quotesleg quotescaught quotesrocket quotesfilm quotesscore quotesplaying quotesheavy quotescastanets quotesproblem quoteshours quotesworking quotesthoughts quotesstart quotesblowing quotesopen quoteswindow quotesbrain quotespages quotesblotter quotestakes quotespaperweight quotespin quotes
The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place.
magician quotespromise quotestorn quotesbits quotesmended quotesseam quotesvanished quotesreappear quotesscattered quoteshandful quotesdoves quotesdust quotesreunited quotesword quotespaper quotesrose quotesconsumed quotesfire quotesmade quotesbloom quotespile quotesash quotesknew quotesillusion quotestrue quotesmagic quotesbroken quotesworld quoteslay quotesability quotesthings quotescontained quotesvanish quoteslost quotesexisted quotesplace quotes
Love great first lines and paragraphs. From The Yiddish Policemen's Union: Nine months Landsman's been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.
love quotesgreat quoteslines quotesparagraphs quotesyiddish quotespolicemens quotesunion quotesmonths quoteslandsmans quotesflopping quoteshotel quoteszamenhof quotesfellow quotesresidents quotesmanaging quotesmurdered quotesput quotesbullet quotesbrain quotesoccupant quotes208 quotesyid quotescalling quotesemanuel quoteslasker quotes
It drains the bars and cafes after hours, concentrates the wicked and the guilty along its chipped Formica counter, and thrums with the gossip of criminals, policemen, shtarkers, and schlemiels, whores and night owls... three or four floaters, solitaries, and drunks between benders lean against the sparkly resin counter, sucking the tea from their shtekelehs and working the calulations of their next big mistake.
drains quotesbars quotescafes quoteshours quotesconcentrates quoteswicked quotesguilty quoteschipped quotesformica quotescounter quotesthrums quotesgossip quotescriminals quotespolicemen quotesshtarkers quotesschlemiels quoteswhores quotesnight quotesowls quotesfloaters quotessolitaries quotesdrunks quotesbenders quoteslean quotessparkly quotesresin quotessucking quotestea quotesshtekelehs quotesworking quotescalulations quotesbig quotesmistake quotes
Airplane Dream #13' told the story, more or less, of a dream Rosa had had about the end of the world. There were no human beings left but her, and she had found herself flying in a pink seaplane to an island inhabited by sentient lemurs. There seemed to be a lot more to it - there was a kind of graphic "sound track" constructed around images relating to Peter Tchaikovsky and his works, and of course abundant food imagery - but this was, as far as Joe could tell, the gist. The story was told entirely through collage, with pictures clipped from magazines and books. There were pictures from anatomy texts, an exploded musculature of the human leg, a pictorial explanation of peristalsis. She had found an old history of India, and many of the lemurs of her dream-apocalypse had the heads and calm, horizontal gazes of Hindu princes and goddesses. A seafood cookbook, rich with color photographs of boiled crustacea and poached whole fish with jellied stares, had been throughly mined. Sometimes she inscribed text across the pictures, none of which made a good deal of sense to him; a few pages consisted almost entirely of her brambly writing, illuminated, as it were, with collage. There were some penciled-in cartoonish marginalia like the creatures found loitering at the edges of pages in medieval books.
airplane quotesdream quotes13 quotestold quotesstory quotesdream quotesrosa quotesend quotesworld quoteshuman quotesbeings quotesleft quotesfound quotesflying quotespink quotesseaplane quotesisland quotesinhabited quotessentient quoteslemurs quoteslot quoteskind quotesgraphic quotessound quotestrack quotesconstructed quotesimages quotesrelating quotespeter quotestchaikovsky quotesworks quotesabundant quotesfood quotesimagery quotesjoe quotesgist quotesstory quotescollage quotespictures quotesclipped quotesmagazines quotesbooks quotesanatomy quotestexts quotesexploded quotesmusculature quotesleg quotespictorial quotesexplanation quotesperistalsis quoteshistory quotesindia quoteslemurs quotesdreamapocalypse quotesheads quotescalm quoteshorizontal quotesgazes quoteshindu quotesprinces quotesgoddesses quotesseafood quotescookbook quotesrich quotescolor quotesphotographs quotesboiled quotescrustacea quotespoached quotesfish quotesjellied quotesstares quotesthroughly quotesmined quotesinscribed quotestext quotespictures quotesmade quotesgood quotesdeal quotessense quotespages quotesconsisted quotesbrambly quoteswriting quotesilluminated quotescollage quotespenciledin quotescartoonish quotesmarginalia quotescreatures quotesloitering quotesedges quotesmedieval quotes
It never takes longer than a few minutes, when they get together, for everyone to revert to the state of nature, like a party marooned by a shipwreck. That's what a family is. Also the storm at sea, the ship, and the unknown shore. And the hats and the whiskey stills that you make out of bamboo and coconuts. And the fire that you light to keep away the beasts.
takes quoteslonger quotesminutes quotesrevert quotesstate quotesnature quotesparty quotesmarooned quotesshipwreck quotesfamily quotesstorm quotessea quotesship quotesunknown quotesshore quoteshats quoteswhiskey quotesstills quotesmake quotesbamboo quotescoconuts quotesfire quoteslight quotesbeasts quotes
We are accustomed to repeating the cliche, and to believing, that 'our most precious resource is our children.' But we have plenty of children to go around, God knows, and as with Doritos, we can always make more. The true scarcity we face is practicing adults, of people who know how marginal, how fragile, how finite their lives and their stories and their ambitions really are but who find value in this knowledge, even a sense of strange comfort, because they know their condition is universal, is shared.
accustomed quotesrepeating quotescliche quotesbelieving quotesour quotesprecious quotesresource quoteschildren quotesplenty quoteschildren quotesgod quotesdoritos quotesmake quotestrue quotesscarcity quotesface quotespracticing quotesadults quotespeople quotesmarginal quotesfragile quotesfinite quoteslives quotesstories quotesambitions quotesfind quotesknowledge quotessense quotesstrange quotescomfort quotescondition quotesuniversal quotesshared quotes