If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.
And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo - that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.
The challenge is to resist circumstances. Any idiot can be happy in a happy place, but moral courage is required to be happy in a hellhole.
. . . there is a wish in the heart of mankind to be distracted and confused. Truth is but one attraction, and not always the most powerful.
For what are the words with which to summarize a lifetime, so much crowded confused happiness terminated by such stark slow-motion pain?
A mouth of no distinction but well practiced, before I entered my teens, in irony. For what is irony but the repository of hurt? And what is hurt but the repository of hope?
The ideal art, the noblest of art: working with the complexities of life, refusing to simplify, to overcome doubt.
For the writer, the serial killer is, abstractly, an analogue of the imagination's caprices and amorality; the sense that, no matter the dictates and even the wishes of the conscious social self, the life or will or purpose of the imagination is incomprehensible, unpredictable.
For obviously the advantage for most writers is that no one sees them. The writer is invisible, which confers power.
It isn't the subjects we write about but the seriousness and subtlety of our expression that determines the worth of or effort.
The strangeness of Time. Not in its passing, which can seem infinite, like a tunnel whose end you can't see, whose beginning you've forgotten, but in the sudden realization that something finite, has passed, and is irretrievable.
See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there's a reason. There has to be
But he doesn't love her. I invented that. It is a plot if you imagine people in love--the lazy looping criss crosses of love, blows, stares, tears. No. It doesn't happen. No love. People meet, touch, stare into one another's faces, shake their heads clear, move on, forget. It doesn't happen.
I suggest to my students that they write under a pseudonym for a week. That allows young men to write as women, and women as men. It allows them a lot of freedom they don't have ordinarily.
He was ugly, himself. Weird-ugly. But ugliness in a man doesn't matter, much. Ugliness in a woman is her life.
... because the Legs wasn't fearful of heights or swimming in rough water or Death itself she wasn't afraid to risk making a fool of herself. Maybe you think that's something of no consequence but it isn't - for making a fool of yourself, offering yourself to others to laugh at, to jeer, that takes guts.
The distinction between assistant and intern is a simple one: assistants are paid, interns are not.But of course interns are paid, in experience.
Her visits to her former hometown were infrequent and often painful. Pilgrimages fueled by the tepid oxygen of family duty, unease, guilt. The more Esther loved her parents, the more helpless she felt, as they aged, to protect them from harm. A moral coward, she kept her distance.
Adriana loved even the rank animal smell of the man's body, her sweat-slicked breasts and belly flattened beneath him, and her arms and legs clutching him as a drowning woman might clutch another person to save her life. Don't don't don't don't leave me. DON'T LEAVE ME. As in animal copulation the frenzy is to be locked together not out of sentiment or choice but physical compulsion. As if bolts of electric current ran through both their bodies and would only release them from each other when it ceased.
Dominique (who, like other Catamount girls, had a cache of pills for every occasion) offered me a bennie- Benzedrine?- to elevate my spirits. Adamantly I told her, No thanks! I wanted to face what's called reality with my eyes open.I've made that a principle for my life. Sometimes I wonder if this has been a wise decision.
The innocence of such children doesn't answer our deepest questions about this vale of tears to which we are condemned, but it helps to dispel them. That is the secret to family life.
It had seemed to me an elegant nightmare concoction made by adults for adults, to further the aims and fantasies of adults, and what have children to do with such things?
He had no idea of my misery. It would have surprised him to think that I was a human creature with a soul.
There’s a German term- heimweh, homesickness. It’s a powerful sensation, like a narcotic. A yearning from home, but for something more- a past self, perhaps. A lost self. When I first saw you on the street, Katya, I felt such a sensation… I have no idea why
The best part of being a nanny, Katya thought, was reading children’s books aloud to enraptured children like Tricia, for no one had read such books aloud to her when she’d been a little girl. There hadn’t been such books in the Spivak household on County Line Road, nor would there have been any time for such interludes.
I have no inner life. I have no ‘intimate’ life. I am just what I-what to do. I move from one habitation to another like one of those-is it herit crabs? Taking up residence in others shells.(…)Others’ shells are fine. You come, and then you go. They’re gone
Derailed. In exile. Deeply ashamed, despised. Yet she had so little pride, she was grateful most days simply to be alive.There is Minimalist art; there are minimalist lives.
I know that there are many essential biological differences between the sexes, of course. But not so many ‘culturally-mandated’ differences. In First World countries we’ve evolved beyond mere biology -it isn’t the fate of the human female to be pregnant continously until she wears out and dies.