Norman Rush

Literature is humanity talking to itself.

The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading.

It was a standard fantasy when you fell in love to imagine you could go back in time and find your beloved growing up, appear there, save him or her, get together as adolescents, by magic, and go on together, fighting for one another, into old age, never wavering.

Small breasts are best for the long haul.

The characters write the plot. Their natures do.

There is no permanent friendship between men, among men. Something goes wrong, somebody marries the wrong person, somebody advances too fast, somebody converts, somebody refuses good advice or bad advice, it didn't matter. It went up in a flash

One thing you distinctly never want to hear a man you're interested in say softly is that his favorite book in the whole world is The Golden Notebook. Here you are dealing with a liar from the black lagoon and it's time to start feeling in your purse for carfare.

Very goodlooking people are as a rule more forgetful than the median. Their mothers start it and the world at large continues it, handing them things, picking things up for them, smoothing their vicinity out for them in every way. I on the other hand remember everything.


David K. Shipler

The day I arrived in Yakutsk with my colleague Peter Osnos of The Washington Post, it was 46 below. When our plane landed, the door was frozen solidly shut, and it took about half an hour for a powerful hot-air blower- standard equipment at Siberian airports- to break the icy seal. Stepping outside was like stepping onto another planet, for at those low temperatures nothing seems quite normal. The air burns. Sounds are brittle. Every breath hovers in a strangle slow-motion cloud, adding to the mist of ice that pervades the city and blurs the sun. When the breath freezes into ice dust and falls almost silently to the ground, Siberians call it the whisper of stars.

There are many ways to honor America. This book is mine. I have completed this journey of self-education in the belief that the most terrifying possibility since 9/11 has not been terrorism--as frightening as that is--but the prospect that Americans will give up their rights in pursuing the chimera of security.

WoA key test for any society is whether or not it is self-correcting. And to be self-correcting, it must first be open and truthful about itself.rkers at the edge of poverty are essential to America’s prosperity, but their well-being is not treated as an integral part of the whole. Instead, the forgotten wage a daily struggle to keep themselves from falling over the cliff. It is time to be ashamed.

A key test for any society is whether or not it is self-correcting. And to be self-correcting, it must first be open and truthful about itself.


Peter Taylor

You can tell a man is clever by his answers – you can tell a man is wise by his questions.

Forgetting the injustices and seeming injustices which one suffered from one’s parents during childhood and youth must be the major part of any maturing process. I kept repeating this to myself, as though it were a lesson I would at some future time be accountable for. A certain oblivion was what we must undergo in order to become adults and live peacefully with ourselves.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

I’ve always had a dislike of any form of didacticism, especially when it becomes the dominant element in writing. Character and emotional content should always be the strong elements. I think that was maybe what went wrong with my early novel, that I wanted it to be too profound, I was trying to put too much into it. I learned fairly early that one can handle only so much idea in a story. Well, or rather, I can!

One makes advances. You do! You come to see what your story is like. That’s part of the fun: to see how you can get the other elements that are not your natural interests or concerns primarily.


Diane Johnson

Laughter is the jam on the toast of life. It adds flavor, keeps it from being too dry, and makes it easier to swallow.

Men are generally more law-abiding than women. Women have the feeling that since they didn't make the rules, the rules have nothing to do with them.

It didn't seem fair that you could not prevent being the object of other people's emotions, you were not safe from their hate--or from their love, for that matter. You were never safe from being invaded by their feelings when you wanted only to be rid of them, free, off, away.

The Novelist, afraid his ideas may be foolish, slyly puts them in the mouth of some other fool and reserves the right to disavow them.

Statuettes of drunken sailors, velvet pictures of island maidens, plastic seashell lamps made in Taiwan. What contempt the people who think up souvenirs have for other people.

Well, their piety is more evolved,” said Mrs. Pace. “In America we have only two forms, as Matthew Arnold said: the bitter and the smug. In France, it appears, there is a third type, the worldly.

Yet—some Frenchman had written—“absence diminishes commonplace passions and enhances great ones."


Linda Hogan

Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.

Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. It is winter and there is smoke from the fires. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.

Tears have a purpose. they are what we carry of the ocean, and perhaps we must become the sea, give ourselves to it, if we are to be transformed.

Sometimes there is a wellspring or river of something beautiful and possible in the tenderest sense that comes to and from the most broken of children, and I was one of these, and whatever is was, I can't name, I can only thank. Perhaps it is the water of life that saves us, after all.


Jane Smiley

Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.

A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as a child who is protected from every germ. The infection, when it comes- and it will come- may overwhelm the system, be it the immune system or the belief system.

But what truly horsey girls discover in the end is that boyfriends, husbands, children, and careers are the substitute-for horses.

Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.

I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you've bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch 'em carry it off, and you don't care. That's more like how it was.

Fascination with horses predated every other single thing I knew. Before I was a mother, before I was a writer, before I knew the facts of life, before I was a schoolgirl, before I learned to read, I wanted a horse.


Robert Olen Butler

The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said that to be an artist means never to avert your eyes. And that's the hardest thing, because we want to flinch. The artist must go into the white hot center of himself, and our impulse when we get there is to look away and avert our eyes.

The monitor presently shows the Windows Blue Screen of Death, though this does not alarm him, as the BSoD is the universal screen saver in Hell.

And so, given the musical sensibilities Hatcher treasured in his earthly life, it is hard to exaggerate the severity of his torture at standing naked in his tiny kitchen in Hell as former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sings a Bee Gees disco song backed by a full studio orchestra and Robin and Maurice.

I can speak these words and perhaps you can see these things clearly because you are using your imagination. But I cannot imagine these things because I lived them, and to remember them with the vividness I know they should have is impossible. They are lost to me.

If all the artists you loved changed you, they'd hack you up in little piece and you'd never get back together. That, or you'd end up loving only one artist forever.


Gerald Posner

Eventually 400,000 Germans were sterilized, and the Vatican did not issue a Pastoral Letter against it for another decade, only after the tide of the war had begun to turn against the Nazis.

Benedict’s resignation was a selfless act since he had come to realize he was not capable of leading the modern church and making the tough decisions that were needed. “It wasn’t one thing, but a whole combination of them,” concluded Paolo Rodari, Il Foglio’s veteran Vatican reporter. Vatileaks, said Rodari, “was a constant drumbeat on the Pope.

In a historic 1933 accord, the Vatican was the first sovereign state to sign a bilateral treaty with Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The Nazis promised to protect Catholics inside Germany in return for the church endorsing Hitler’s government.

Mussolini’s insistence on public morality, belief in the inferior role of women, and the ban on contraception and abortion made the fascists palatable to the church.

John Paul was a bystander as the American church quietly approved an aggressive new legal strategy that included, as The Washington Post uncovered, “hiring high-powered law firms and private detectives to examine the personal lives of the church’s accusers, fighting to keep documents secret and engaging in new tactics to minimize settlements.


August Wilson

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.

I been with strangers all day and they treated me like family. I come in here to family and you treat me like a stranger

You got to be right with yourself before you can be right with anybody else.

Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone's disbelief.

In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

I done learned my mistake and learned to do what's right by it. You still trying to get something for nothing. Life don't owe you nothing. You owe it to yourself.

When your daddy walked through the house he was so big he filled it up. That was my first mistake. Not to make him leave room for me.

Don't you try and go through life worrying about if somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they doing right by you.

I ain't never found no place for me to fit. Seem like all I do is start over. It ain't nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself.


Carol Shields

Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve.

Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find.

This is why I read novels: so I can escape my own unrelenting monologue.

There are chapters in every life which are seldom read, and certainly not aloud.

Here's to another year and let's hope it's above ground.

Bookish people, who are often maladroit people, persist in thinking they can master any subtlety so long as it's been shaped into acceptable expository prose.

In one day I had altered my life; my life, therefore, was alterable. This simple axiom did not call out for exegesis; no, it entered my bloodstream directly, as powerful as heroin. I could feel it pump and surge, the way it brightened my veins to a kind of glass. I had wakened that morning to narrowness and predestination and now I was falling asleep in the storm of my own free will.