Here be quotes from the main page, archived:
In the morning it was morning and I was still alive.
Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought.
And then I did.
-Charles Bukowski, Post Office
There was a peculiar quality, in Happy’s memory, to those years of terror and dread—twelve years, more than a quarter of her life. They existed in her mind like an unheated wing of a rambling house, a place you didn’t want to go, could only get to by rooting through drawers and closets for the key, but which required complicated detours to get around, and over time the detours, though inconvenient, became so familiar that you no longer remembered what it was like to walk freely through your own home. Sometimes you heard noises from the sealed rooms, or smelled some foul meal cooking, or noticed a wisp of dark smoke curling out over the transom, but you pretended not to notice. You pretended you lived in a regular house, and had regular habits, like a regular person.
-J. Robert Lennon, Happyland
I keep your picture beside my bed.
It is my favorite picture in the whole world.
I love you because you remind me
of my favorite picture.
-Dan Nielsen, Tips, Hints, & Shortcuts
Catfish said, “Get out,” and Thurber stood there for a moment trying to think of something else to say. His weasel-like eyes darted around the room. I could see him trying to take it all in. Poor Thurber. He must have thought he’d hit upon a gold mine with those mutan puppies, and now this.
Finally Thurber said, “Forget it,” and he left the tent.
-Arthur Bradford, Dogwalker
We were living then off the proceeds of my father’s life insurance policies, with my mother doing some part-time waitressing work up in Great Falls and going to the bars in the evenings, which I know is where she met Glen Baxter. Sometimes he would come back with her and stay in her room at night, or she would call up from town and explain that she was staying with him in his little place on Lewis Street by the GN yards. She gave me his number every time, but I never called it. I think she probably thought what she was doing was terrible, but simply couldn’t help herself. I thought it was all right, though. Regular life it seemed, and still does. She was young, and I knew that even then.
-Richard Ford, Communist
The deli-guy gave me a bone, his best, an especially juicy one. I took it back home to her. He gave it, he said, as a congratulatory gift. He wrapped it like a package. The paper was beautiful. I remember walking home and feeling loved and beautiful. The dog was sweet when I brought it home. She pranced and sniffed demurely at the bag. I knew she knew what it contained. She knew I knew she did. But we were playing, happy, overjoyed with giving, getting, being with each other. She whined like a baby and then like a boy. She squatted on her haunches and looked adorable. It felt so good to do the perfect, right surprise.
-Rebecca Brown, Dogs
He was a stranger to me – my mother divorced him three years ago and I hadn’t seen him since – but as soon as I saw him I felt that he was my father, my flesh and blood, my future and my doom.
-”Reunion,” by John Cheever
“That’s all right.” His narrow eyes became feral once again. “Women should be quiet.” It suddenly struck her that it would seem completely natural if he lunged forward and bit her face. “I agree,” she said.
-”Romantic Weekend,” by Mary Gaitskill
You don’t imagine, do you, that anyone’s watching us, our love scenes and death scenes, and thinking, I see you what you are. But this has nothing to do with anything: I have my clothes to pack for tomorrow, the books I brought, the DVDs, computer, clean the bathroom, wash the last dishes, just a million million little things.
“An Actor Prepares,” by David Gates
I’m the hat on the bed / I’m the coffee instead / The fish or cut bait / I’m the detective up late / I’m the blood on the floor / The thunder and the roar / The boat that won’t sink / I just won’t sleep a wink / You’re the same kind of bad as me.
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest—whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories—comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer.”
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
“We’re going to make lots of money together. Making lots of money – it’s not that hard, you know. It’s overestimated. Making lots of money is a breeze. You watch.”
Martin Amis, Money
An old woman—No! Look closely & see! She’s just a child—Bends over to pick at a small gray flower. This might be happening inside a star: Or the shadow of a tank—Topped w/ a soldier. & look, he’s floating on down! & look, he’s reaching for her! & look!—I’ve thrown up all over them! Marble, Tequila, Rotted, Flapping. In the wind, & its green-pink seizures.
-Rauan Klassnik, The Moon’s Jaw
Bob wanted to give an advance version of the story to The New York Times, but didn’t want to send it over e-mail. What to do? Of course: send the intern! I was given cab money and a folder containing the article in a paper bag. I met the Times editorial page editor on a street corner in Union Square, where he’d been waiting in the rain, as directed, under a black umbrella. “I feel like Deep Throat,” he said.
-Andrew Martin, “The intern who went out in the cold.”
James let himself rest in the thought for a few minutes. When had Molly become a problem? She was funny and beautiful in an unusual way and she loved to have sex—the one pleasure she had left herself. She was smart, though inarticulate. And she loved him.
-”Mayfly,” by Kevin Canty
in a white room
chewing on a white
take away the room.
Now take away
-You Are The You, by Lindsey Wallace
The boy pauses the flashlight for a moment. He’s not sure how it’s possible, but it seems as though everything looks worse in his flashlight’s beam than it does in the light of day. Everything seems to look more miserable and ruined. It’s like the flashlight is revealing the place’s true nature, which up until right then had been hidden from him in plain sight. The boy can’t believe that this is where he lives. That this is where he has been growing up. It’s no wonder his sister has become the kind of person she has become.
-Tell Everyone I said Hi, by Chad Simpson
Every human is a magician, and we can either put a spell on someone with our word or we can release someone from a spell. We cast spells all the time with our opinions. An example: I see a friend and give him an opinion that just popped into my mind. I say, “Hmmm! I see that kind of color in your face in people who are going to get cancer.” If he listens to the word, and if he agrees, he will have cancer in less than one year. That is the power of the word.
The only thing that can break a spell is to make a new agreement based on truth. The truth is the most important part of being impeccable with your word. On one side of the sword are the lies which create black magic, and on the other side of the sword is the truth which has the power to break the spell of black magic. Only the truth will set us free.
―Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
I take dried shark fin up the ass so it kicks in faster. I was stoned at Tufts when gay marriage passed in Massachusetts. Gay men can’t tell me that shame doesn’t have anything to do with us. Will you be with me in the garden of ceramic roses, honor, the sky brass talking? As we were putting up our first bookshelf in Jamaica Plain there was an earthquake. A gay German flower boy for your wedding I’m jealous!
―John Myers, Asking Where
“We had money. We were grimy and tired. Usually we felt guilty and frightened, because there was something wrong with us, and we didn’t know what it was; but today we had the feeling of men who had worked.”
― Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son
Oh, God, help me! And I walked faster, my thoughts pursuing me, and I began to run, my frozen shoes squealing like mice, but running didn’t help, the thoughts to the left and right and behind me. But as I ran, The Arm, that good left arm, took hold of the situation and spoke soothingly: ease up, Kid, it’s loneliness, you’re all alone in the world; your father, your mother, your faith, they can’t help you, nobody helps anybody, you only help yourself, and that’s why I’m here, because we are inseperable, and we’ll take care of everything.”
― John Fante, 1933 Was a Bad Year
Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You’ve never learned to read or write
There’s no books upon your shelf
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark.
—Bob Dylan, “One More Cup of Coffee”
‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. ‘Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled.
So the cyclops is a boy, though a monstrous one, with his green eye very pretty and his slender hips. But his teeth are those of elephants. The Ancient Greeks found the skulls of elephants and mistook them for the skulls of giant men, one big eye where the trunk was missing from the wide white face. He tells me that elephant teeth are not the preserve of any creature. He tells me that he will never die, so long as he is a creature made from this confusion, and not any more complicated. Or he did tell me, once.
—“Boy Cyclops” by Helen McClory
These Letters are classics. I will include them in my prison novel. Every letter I receive while doing time will be part of my novel. I will write one word after another and then follow them like a rope out of my cell. Like a chain. Follow the chain of words back to my life.
—Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, by Nick Flynn
I looked up antonyms for
“loneliness” and got
—by Michael F. Gill
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
—Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
A book is whittled down from hope, and when I start to cut my fingers I push it away from me to see what others make of it. And I wait in terror for the judgements of those others—judgements that seem, whether positive or negative, unjust, because they are about something that I didn’t really do. They are about something that happened to me. It’s a little like crawling from a car crash to be greeted by a panel of strangers holding up score cards.
—“Everything is Fiction”, Keith Ridgeway
By now, she and Juan Antonio and Maria Elena had become lovers. Everything seemed perfectly balanced, perfectly in tune. Maria Elena was calm and relaxed. Juan Antonio was going through a very creative period with his painting. It was only Cristina, as the last days of summer expired, who began to experience an old familiar stirring, a growing restlessness that she dreaded, but recognized only too well. Suddenly, thoughts started taking precedence over feelings, thoughts and questions about life and love, and as much as she tried to resist these ideas, she could not get them from her mind. Finally, summoning her resolve one evening after dinner, she made an announcement that surprised everyone.
—Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen
“Sorry,” she says, more defiant than repentant. She doesn’t budge. “My legs are too long.”
From his vantage point he sees the ruby tip of her patent shoes. Her dress is red, red, red. What color are the devil’s eyes?
—”Big Feet,” by Leslie What
Everything living on the Earth, people, animals, plants, is food for the moon…. All movements, actions, and manifestations of people, animals, and plants depend upon the moon and are controlled by the moon…. The mechanical part of our life depends upon the moon, is subject to the moon. If we develop in ourselves consciousness and will, and subject our mechanical life and all our mechanical manifestations to them, we shall escape from the power of the moon.
—G. I. Gurdjieff
Dad told a story about his secretary’s dog. Mom pulled her chicken to shreds.
-The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender
The orange lava in this lamp isn’t tangerine. More like a burnt orange. Therefore, I am forced to rate the appearance of this lamp as more contemplative than invigorating.
-”Emotional and Overheated Words Online Reviewers Of Lava Lamps Might Wish They Could Take Back,” by Jeff Questad
I know I am not the only one who has been cut off by a swerving car in traffic or yelled at by a teacher in a classroom or laughed at by a woman in a bar. I am not the only one who has wished someone dead and imagined how it might happen, pleasuring in the goriest details.
Here is how it might happen:
-”Dial Tone,” by Benjamin Percy
Stop Being in love without me
I’m stuck in Traffic
-Haiku, by Michael Gill
Winter’s folding into a Boeing 747. Botticelli’s Venus. A White Peacock in a white fox’s mouth. “Skip’s dead!”… “Skip’s dead,” they called. And when we arrived his hands were folded on his chest, his mouth was open, and he was staring up as though he’d been dead ten thousand years at least. In a slight wind and a slight drizzle there’s a dwarf on stage about to sing. When she does, this poem’s a car bomb, exploding. now.
-from Holy Land, Rauan Klassnik
Should he call the police? Larry wondered. The hospital? The newspaper? Should he tell anybody at all? Who knows? Maybe the situation wasn’t quite as strange as it seemed. Maybe everybody had a naked look-alike, waiting to be discovered out by a dumpster somewhere. Then again, maybe Larry had something no one else had. His ex-wife, she had the house, the car, a decent job. She even had the kids, except every other weekend. But Larry, he had an inexplicable, impossible twin.
-“The Look-alike,” Stephen Langlois
This is your chance to see what love looks like. The Hell Bucket awaits you behind the velvet curtain atop a mound of granite. The throne is the only thing it’s asked of us, that and the thing with the cats.
-“Hell Bucket,” Adam Peterson
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
“I watched a bird dive down under the water. I caught a fish with a net I’d brought along, but then I didn’t know what to do with the thing so I let it go. I paddled around, ate two plums, threw the pits into the water. A man was working on his roof and I called out to him and he waved. I was in a weird mood, I guess.”
“It’s not where you are but who you’re with that really matters, isn’t that right? Didn’t anyone ever write that on your yearbook, Buzz?”
“Some things I’ve always been good at without trying very hard. I’ve always been able to pretend I have something people want. I’m sorry.”
-Rigged, Michael McGrath
In the first year of the twenty-first century, a man standing by a highway in the middle of America pulled from his pocket his life savings—thirty dollars—laid it inside a phone book, and walked away. He was thirty-nine years old, came from a good family, and had been to college. He was not mentally ill, nor an addict. His decision appears to have been an act of free will by a competent adult.
-The Man Who Quit Money, Mark Sundeen
Their father, Josh Powell, who had been a person of interest in the investigation, had said he was not involved in his wife’s disappearance and did not know what happened to her after he took the boys out for an impromptu, middle-of-the-night camping trip in the Utah desert during a snowstorm.
-LA Times news article, Kim Murphy
When a letter came from my mother and father, I spent half the day reading it. My mother said they were praying for me, which was a comfort, and my father said the cows had nearly gone through all the hay he baled and stacked for the summer. I hadn’t written them in a month. You had to be brave in a letter home, and I didn’t feel very brave. And I didn’t want to burden them with worry over something none of us could change.
-Daily Bread, Steve Edwards
“We are sorry, sir, but you cannot be admitted on merely a Promissary Voucher, are you kidding us, you must take your Voucher and your Proof of Purchases from at least six of our Major Artistic Sponsors, such as AOL, such as Coke, and go at once to the Redemption Center on Forty-fourth and Broadway to get your real actual tickets, and please do not be late, as latecomers cannot be admitted, due to special effects which occur early, which require total darkness in order to simulate the African jungle at night.”
-my flamboyant grandson, George Saunders
One night Charlie was waked up by a noise in his backyard. He caught hold of his hatchet, hoping it was a criminal, for his life had been dull lately.
-Ray, Barry Hannah
“You’re due back at work when?” she says. “October thirty-first. Halloween. Appropriate, wouldn’t you say?” Whatever this means: probably something as witless as Witches are bad and so is going back to work.
Rathbone finds a stick, head-fakes Willis with it, jumps back. Willis lunges a couple of times. If his heart’s not even in this, what’s he doing with a family?
He blocks the left nostril and snorts a little up the right. Blocks the right and a little up the left. Tilts his head back, keeps sniffing. Oh yeah. The right decision, absolutely.
-Preston Falls, by David Gates
The solitary molar of a streetwalker whose body had gone unclaimed had a gold filling. All the rest were gone, as if by tacit agreement. This one the morgue attendant claimed for himself, flogged it, and had himself a night out on the proceeds. Because, so he said, only dust should revert to dust.
-Circulation, Gottfried Benn
You might come here Sunday on a whim. Say your life broke down. The last good kiss you had was years ago. You walk these streets laid out by the insane, past hotels that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try of local drivers to accelerate their lives. Only churches are kept up. The jail turned 70 this year. The only prisoner is always in, not knowing what he’s done.
-Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg, by Richard Hugo
“She was young, and I knew that even then.”
-Richard Ford, “Communist”
Born into this / Walking and living through this / Dying because of this / Muted because of this / Castrated / Debauched / Disinherited / Because of this / Fooled by this / Used by this / Pissed on by this / Made crazy and sick by this / Made violent / Made inhuman / By this …
-Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We
That became the routine for a while, until I was old enough to know better. “It won’t hurt long” became “It gets better,” but it never did. The shouting at night between Buddy and my mom got louder, went deeper into the nights. His breath got heavier and eventually even his skin smelled permanently of beer.
-Ryan W. Bradley, “The Pit Bull’s Tooth”
“…and just when he had made up his mind to leave his wife she left him and went off with a miniature-painter. As he had been thinking for months about leaving his wife and had not done it because it would be too cruel to deprive her of himself, her departure was a very healthful shock.”
-Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (before Gertrude Stein told him to stop using the word “very,” apparently.)
A note gets slipped into my locker and I unfold it, thinking, “love letter.” The handwriting peaks like mountains and cuts in jagged daggers, plus the red ink, plus the note says, “I am going to kill you in geometry today.” I’m afraid of whoever wrote this note. I walk through the halls and faces turn black. My gym teacher stares at me and slits his throat with his thumb as I pass. The warning bell rings and the black faces scatter. What can I do? There’s nothing I can do. I go to geometry. -Bad Day, by me.
“Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do.” I thought about it for a minute. “But not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess.”
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Buck saw Francois holding a stick in his hand. Buck played with sticks at the Judge’s house. He thought Francois was going to play a game with him. But Francois held the stick above Buck’s head and brought it down on him. Buck didn’t know what had happened. He felt the pain of being hit with a stick for the first time in his life. He was angry and he tried to bite Francois. This was a mistake. Francois hit him with the stick again and again. The pain hurt and Buck’s mouth was bleeding. Buck learned he could not win against the man, the stick and the rope. He sat down, and the men laughed at him.
-Jack London, The Call of the Wild
At Annie and Kevin’s house there is everyone. Everyone who is not there is on their way. There isn’t anyone caught under anything. Everyone’s hair looks wonderful. There is no glass caught between the strands. Everyone hasn’t lost their homes. Everyone hasn’t lost their cars, their arms, their selves. Everyone is okay. Everyone is okay, yes? Everyone is okay, right?
If you’re frightened of dying, and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. If you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth.
Finally Bennie came out. He looked trim. He looked fit. He wore black trousers and a white shirt buttoned at the neck but no tie. I understood something for the very first time when I looked at that shirt: I understood that expensive shirts looked better than cheap shirts. The fabric wasn’t shiny, no—shiny would be cheap. But it glowed, like there was light coming through from the inside. It was a fucking beautiful shirt, is what I’m saying.
-Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad
You said I’d wake up dead drunk, alone in the park. I called you a liar, but how right you were.
And it never comes or it seems to but it doesn’t really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is I feel so angry, and the truth is I feel so fucking sad, and the truth is I’ve felt so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long I’ve been pretending I’m OK, just to get along, just for, I don’t know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.
-Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman
Someone standing close to me is shot in the neck. He spins round suddenly very slowly and I can see the hole in his neck where his adam’s apple should be. It is edited like a scene from a film. The crowd scatters and meshes and the man falls. Bad thoughts crowd my head. But the worst thing is that I want to get away as quickly as I can and I can’t remember where I have left my coat.
-Murder, by Stanley Donwood
Help! Someone page the god… Help! Is there a poet in the house? Help! I’m afraid we’ll have to innovate… Help! I can’t bring her back to life alone…
-Dose One, “It’s Them!”
One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; – hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart; – hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence; – hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin – a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it – if such a thing wore possible – even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.
-”The Black Cat”, Edgar Allen Poe
Director’s voice: Ernie? Give me a crow, no, give me a murder of crows on the wing.
-1. The temps mort shot, by Peter Jay Shippy
“I got a job pulling weeds, but it was hard and I quit.”
-My favorite line in all of literature, from a John Fante novel.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”
-Araby, James Joyce
There is no shame in this. Cue up – Quick. The babysitter threw up. The original cannisters are hidden in the bannisters. Gold Bond? Check. Sleepy seeds? Check. Dog whistle? Check…
-Hats on Beds, Buck 65
Here is a list of people that have drowned in the river: apple, bear, crush, dime, eagle, fire, fire, ghost, ghost, ghost, hair, iron, jab, kite, loss, lost, lose, me. Here is a list of what it sounded like when they were drowning: the rolling up of a car window when you know it is going to rain later that day, a gas-powered stove turning on in order to boil water for noodles, a hand feeling around an empty pocket.
Taska losa — The Park At Manderson Landing m4w, by Brian Oliu
He turned to leave. “Yeh, so, sorry about the legs! Hope you get better.” “I won’t, I’m afraid.” This seemed to anger the man. “Hey. Miracles Happen.”
-Hibachi, by J. Robert Lennon
“Bob,” Jude said, leaning forward, lowering her voice. “I think you should know something; I’m not well.”
The fluorescent light above them flickered mildly. Wink, wink. Last year, for instance, Jude had lost her car no fewer than five times. It seemed that the car had a way of moving itself once she’d parked it somewhere. Only after it was impounded was she ever able to track it down. Who lost their car five times? Not a well person.
-Our Own Flesh and Blood, by Becky Margolis
Ominously, he tells us in heavily-accented English that he has been forced to open up large tracts of his estate as a theme park, with log flumes, bowling alleys, rollercoasters, and burger bars, all of which are frequented by Western tourists who know nothing of the old ways. Our sympathy is tempered by the sure knowledge that the Count intends to suck out our souls with his pointy teeth.
-Stanley Donwood, Dracula
One waiter offers to feed her the salad. He kneels next to her and holds out a fork of lettuce and tomato, making airplane noises. She refuses, though she knows, she knows she should eat the salad. It is a very good sort of salad. A salad other restaurant-goers are jealous of. She knows they are jealous because they come to her two at a time to tell her they are jealous. We are so jealous of your salad, they say.
-Brandi Wells, Worst Time #6
And I wrapped my despair around myself like a blanket, while Ginny snored, and I watched the grey sky go pink, then orange, and I dreaded the arrival of the creepy sun and another day of pain.
-Ray Shea, Thirds
“Somehow that coyote had figured out how to make a living in his diminished condition. Both wounds were old. His coat was healthy, not starved-looking or mangy. Apparently he was perfectly happy to go on suffering if that’s what life was for, though he probably didn’t mind being shot by Oscar that much either.” -James Galvin, The Meadow