“Your personality is not just a matter of what you know about yourself, but what others know about you. You are one person with your mother, and another with your lover, and yet another with your child. Those other people create you--finish you--as much as you create you. When you're gone, the ones you've left behind get to keep the same part of you they always had.”
“There's something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”
Just noted that goodreads has several pages of quotes now. Below are ones I collected independently:
“At one point I had forty kids in the gym, and a few teachers, and the principal, and some were crying, and some were shivering, and some were throwing up, and I felt like doing all three at the same time.”
There was a fireman causing trouble.
“Sir,” Nurse Lean said now, in a voice thin with impatience. “Everyone in this line is having an emergency. It’s emergencies all the way back to the lobby. We take ’em in the order they come here.”
“SIR,” she said. “If you take one more step, we’ll be treating you this afternoon for a variety of bruises and contusions.”
Renée said it was easier to spot a moose in New Hampshire than a black person. She said she was used to being stared at as if her head was on fire, people had been staring that way for years.
I think it makes me look like a tigress! A fat, frumpy tigress. Like if Catwoman got really out of shape.”
Johnny Deepenau was a Budweiser-drinking, football-watching, Donald Trump–voting, stone-cold bozo who never read anything deeper than Penthouse magazine, but he understood that much.
He hated the way they saved all year to buy tickets in nosebleed territory for a pro-football game. He hated how happy they were in the weeks after the game, and hated the way they would tell the story of the game over and over as if recounting the battle of Thermopylae.
They were in their late sixties, stranded in God’s waiting room, a.k.a. Florida.
“I know it’s politically incorrect to say, but what the hell, we’re both about to die: I’ve never thought much of the intelligence of women. I’ve never once met a woman who had any true intellectual rigor. There’s a reason things like Facebook and airplanes and all the other great inventions of our time were made by men.”
All of France’s wine country was nothing but ash now, which meant the stain on her blouse was probably worth a few thousand dollars on the black market. She had never worn anything so expensive.
She loped jaggedly off course. No, that wasn’t right; for her to wander off course, she needed to have a course, and she had no idea where she was going.
The beard was actually less Dumbledore, more Hemingway, but the eyes behind the lenses of his glasses were a brilliant shade of blue that naturally suggested a man who could cast runes and speak to trees.
“ … Time is short, Tom.” “Isn’t it always?”
“You’ve beaten it?” Harper asked. “Better,” Father Storey said. “We’ve made friends with it.”
I want us to have matching pajamas. That’s how crazy I am for you.
“But Snuffleupagus was real.” “That is the most wonderful sentence I have ever heard. I want that on my gravestone. Snuffleupagus was real. No more. Just that.”
“It’s not magic. It’s a miracle,” Carol said, like someone identifying the make of their new car: it’s a Miata.
“ … And you become aware of yourself as just one leaf on a tree, and everyone you know and love, they’re all the other leaves.”
“ … They laughed at me, like grown-ups havin’ a yuk at some kid who just drank his first beer.”
“It’s no place for two strappin’ young boys like us,” Don Lewiston said. “All them wimmen undressin’ you with their eyes, plottin’ ways to use you to satisfy their repress’t needs—it makes a decent man feel lucky to escape with his life and virginity intact.”
“…It was like watchin’ a TV show and suddenly one a the extras decides to deliver a speech ain’t in the script.”
“ … Why don’t you go outside and yell for him?” “He’s deaf,” Harper said. “Don’t let that stop you,”
…most human lives were unfair, brutal, full of loss and grief and confusion. Most human lives were and are too short. Most people have lived out their days hungry and barefoot, on the run from this war and that famine, a plague here and a flood there. But people have to sing anyway.
… all acts of altruism were secretly acts of selfishness, that you were really only doing for others to please yourself.
When you gave your happiness away, it came back twofold. It kept coming and coming, like the loaves and fishes.
In her experience it was very difficult to offer a man affection and kindness without giving him the impression you were also offering a lay.
“A thousand prayers every minute everywhere and what does God ever say back? Nothing! Because silence never lies. Silence is God’s final advantage. Silence is the purest form of harmony.
“That’s right. You didn’t know it belonged to anyone. And the world is just full of free cars. They’re like picking daisies at the side of the road,”
… it did not pay to be too impressed with a man just because he could ride a unicycle.
“A Porsche is just a half ton of worthless iron if there’s no gas in the tank.”
I haven’t been in so much pain since Guns and Roses broke up.”
“I brought you some wonderful loose teas—” “Tea! You think I want tea?” “Why not? You’re English.” “And so you think I drink tea? What, do you imagine I used to wander around in the London fog in a deerstalker cap, talking to my mates in iambic pentameter? We have Starbucks, woman.”
Nothing makes a person feel more low and ashamed than disappointing the old man. It’s like telling a department store Santa you know his beard is fake.”
“You don’t think she means well?” “I’m certain she means well. When your government was waterboarding poor sods to find bin Laden, they meant well.
… Without someone higher to answer to, the law is just whoever’s holding the nightstick. A nightstick—or a dish towel full of rocks.”
“I’ll be your candle on the water …My love for you will always burn
“There’s always a little decency in the worst places . . . and always a little secret selfishness in the best.”
The Dodge Challenger was only a dozen steps from where she was taking shelter, but it might as well have been in a different county. Trying to cross that distance made about as much sense as diving headfirst into a wood chipper.
I wouldn’t like to see it happen, but there’s a lot of things I’ve had to live with that I didn’t like. I’m sure I could manage one more.
When she stroked a fingernail up his bare foot he curled his toes and made a soft snort of amusement. When she had tested him that way last week, she might as well have been tickling a loaf of bread.
It was funny how the more she said it to herself, the less she believed it.
“…These days, I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to leave anything important for tomorrow.”
I liked who I was when I was by his side,
…how the romance between a moth and a candle usually ended: with the moth spinning to its death, wings smoking.
“Rabbit mothers eat their own babies,” the Mazz said. “I found that out reading Watership Down.
“They’re not bad people, most of them. All they want is to be safe.” “Isn’t that always a permission slip for ugliness and cruelty? All they want is to be safe, and they don’t care who they have to destroy to stay that way.
He said the candy bar was awful and he needed another one to get the taste out of his mouth.
“Sometimes I think every man wants to be a writer. They want to invent a world with the perfect imaginary woman, someone they can boss around and undress at will. They can work out their own aggression with a few fictional rape scenes. Then they can send their fictional surrogate in to save her, a white knight—or a fireman! Someone with all the power and all the agency. Real women, on the other hand, have all these tiresome interests of their own, and won’t follow an outline.”
“Is that a vote for the Beatles?” “Of course I pick the Beatles. It’s a stupid question. It’s like asking what you like better: silk or pubic hair?”
Oh, I did like having an audience for all my insights and theories.
…Michael, I’d like to set up a transfusion, and run some of your blood into me. I could use some of your courage.”
… My daddy never gave me nothing except his name, you want to know the truth. His name and occasionally the back of his hand.”
… his eyelids flutter, as if he were an ingénue in a 1940s musical comedy trying to look kissable.
… I don’t want to try and live without him. I feel like I spent my whole life unable to taste food. Then Gil came to camp and suddenly everything had flavor. Everything was delicious.
“Don’t sweat it. You’re just nine. You’re supposed to be dumb. I’m seventeen. What’s my excuse?”
Five-letter word for abiding happiness, she asked, and Harper touched her hair, pushing a strand of it behind her pink, delicate ear, and whispered “today”.
I have had my fill of people claiming the unique authority to decide what is and isn’t best for others. I tried marriage, and had five years of being told the things that made me feel like a human being were no good for me. I tried religion—the scared church of the holy sing-along, temple of the Bright—and got more of the same.
… This is the problem with police states. The prison guards are prisoners, too, and most of them know it.”
… Everyone loves a good deaf joke. Hey, why did God make farts stink? So deaf people could enjoy them, too.”
“Yes, my love. Anything. Anything for you, John.” “Live,” he said.
“Look at our good fortune. The meek shall inherit the Earth. Not that anyone would want what’s left of it.”
“Who knew the future was going to sound so much like the past,”
I’m such a good little fireman, I put them out before they even start.
… the pair of them squeezed together like the two halves of a walnut.
“You don’t blame a match for starting a fire,” the Sarah flame said. “You blame the person who strikes it. You were just a match.”
“She’s—” Her voice caught in her throat again. “An old flame,” Harper said.
"Her eyes blazed like lamps, her skin hummed with warmth and pleasure, her thoughts soared away from her like a kestrel rising on a hot summer updraft, and for a few weeks everything was almost all right."
"The sound of an English accent distracted her and lifted her spirits. She associated English accents with singing teapots, schools for witchcraft, and the science of deductions."
"Sometimes she felt that those intellectual aerobatics were a bit tiring; at those times she felt less as if they were feeling everything together, more as if she were simply his audience, someone to applaud his latest leap through the burning hoop of existentialism and his backflip onto the trampoline of nonconformity."