Quite a Quote

It wasn’t only my hair and my clothes. I knew I also had to censor the things I said. I’d worn the same outfit throughout junior high, but I’d also carried around The Big Book of Burial Rites and a few times tried at lunch to begin discussions by asking people if they’d rather be buried or cremated. And it wasn’t only in the lunchroom; in history I’d demonstrated Lido burial by lying out on the floor with my arms crossed over my chest and my face and feet covered with torn leaves I’d brought from hom in a Ziplock bag. I’d tried out some of my dad’s ideas, saying trying to define yourself was like trying to bite your own teeth and asking if anyone had heard of the Theosophical Society. For a period I also carried the unicorn girl notebook around and tried to tell the kids who had lockers near mine about the unicorn girl’s antics. I had told a girl in my gym class that the mole on our teacher’s upper arm looked like a flower bud.

Steinke, Darcey. Sister Golden Hair. Brooklyn: Tin House Books, 2014.

Quite a Quote

     The principal chief’s true intentions would never be known, because Jackson did not test them. Although the letter was addressed to Jackson, there is no record that he answered it personally. Instead a disapproving note came from an aide, and the president maintained his course. A partial solution would not satisfy the Georgians, and according to Jackson it was the Georgians alone with whom Ross must come to terms. Georgia, not Jackson, was destroying the Cherokee Nation; the president was merely standing aside to let it happen. So it was with the national economy—the Bank of the United States, not Jackson, was wrecking it. So it had been twenty years earlier when his soldiers were preparing to execute John Wood. “Between [the] law & its offender,” he had written then, “the commanding General ought not to be expected to interpose.”

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

Quite a Quote

Sleep now became so importunate that the man had never known such overpowering odds. It flashed into his mind that he was in fact dying. He felt weak, his head ached, and his breathing was labored. There was a dull ringing in his ears, yet he could still hear a thudding, a hammering. It was his heart.
     What might that bode?
     At that very moment the vixen uttered three long-drawn-out warning cries. This was to the east of the man, borne to him on the wind; they struck him like a gust.
     He jerked. Darting his eyes to the left, he glimpsed there a blue shape—it seemed to him a devilish coal-black beast.
     It vanished.
     Dead silence. Not even a heartbeat.
     Was he dead, then?

Sjón. The Blue Fox. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Quite a Quote

By remaining cool and reasonable Bolívar retained his panoply of power. At the same time he reminded Santander of his place in the hierarchy of the revolution: ‘It is an honour that two of my friends and assistants have emerged as two prodigies…. I am the man of difficulties, you are the man of law, and Sucre is the man of war.’ The meaning was clear: I am supreme, the one who solves the great problems. I command, you administer.

Lynch, John. Simón Bolívar: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Quite a Quote

     At no. 27 Viktoriastrasse, in Berne, a young woman lies on her bed. The sounds of her parents’ fighting drifts up to her room. She covers her ears and stares at a photograph on her table, a photograph of herself as a child, squatting at the beach with her mother and father. Against one wall of her room stands a chestnut bureau. A porcelain wash basin sits on the bureau. The blue paint on the wall is peeling and cracked. At the foot of her bed, a suitcase is open, half-filled with clothes. She stares at the photograph, then out into time. The future is beckoning. She makes up her mind. Without finishing her packing, she rushes out of her house, this point of her life, rushes straight to the future. She rushes past one year ahead, five years, ten years, twenty years, finally puts on the brakes. But she is moving so fast that she cannot slow down until she is fifty years old. Events have raced by her vision and barely been seen. A balding solicitor who get her pregnant and then left. A blur of a year at the university. A small apartment in Lausanne for some period of time. A girlfriend in Fribourg. Scattered visits to her parents gone gray. The hospital room where her mother died. The damp apartment in Zürich, smelling of garlic, where her father died. A letter from her daughter, living somewhere in England.
     The woman catches her breath. She is fifty years old. She lies on her bed, tries to remember her life, stares at a photograph of herself as a child, squatting at the beach with her mother and father.

Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams. New York: Warner Books, 1994.

Quite a Quote

     And so they would come, each of them the same, but all of them different. They would wake me before they got to the door, the presence and strong telepathic head would do it, like Dirty John, or when they put the key in the lock, subtle and self-assertive, like Ivan, or when they walked possessive and heavy about the kitchen, like Antoine, or when they came to bed and kissed me hello, and I would kiss back, saying “Who?”—or kissing would recognize touch or texture: the smell of Pete’s musty clothes, or Don’s expensive cologne, or half-sense an aura in the dark.
     And they would clamber half-clothed, hastily, into bed, or sit on the blankets and talk me awake, or they would have brought up some grass or some wine, and I would watch, tousled and sleepy, while they made a fire. There would be the B-Minor Mass to fuck to, or Bessie Smith, and we would have a moon, and open window breezes off the river, or dank, chilly greyness and rain beating down, and it was all good, the core and heart of that time. I thought it as fucking my comrades, and a year slipped by.

di Prima, Diane. Memoirs of a Beatnik. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Quite a Quote

Enter Ghost.

But soft, behold, lo where it comes again!
I’ll cross it, though it blast me.—Stay, illusion.

It spreads his arms.

If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done
That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
O, speak!
Or if though hast uphoarded in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

The cock crows.

Speak of it. Stay and speak. Stop it, Marcellus.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” In William Shakespeare: Four Great Tragedies, 1–144. New York: Signet Classics, 1998.

Quite a Quote

They watched until the car was out of sight, headed down the eastern slope. When it was gone, the three of them looked at each other for a silent, almost frightened moment. They were alone. Aspen leaves whirled and skittered in aimless packs across the lawn that was now neatly mowed and tended for no guest’s eyes. There was no one to see the autumn leaves steal across the grass but the three of them. It gave Jack a curious shrinking feeling, as if his life force had dwindled to a mere spark while the hotel and the grounds had suddenly doubled in size and become sinister, dwarfing them with sullen, inanimate power.

King, Stephen. The Shining. New York: Anchor Books, 2012.

Quite a Quote

     “It is my chair,” he said. “He rolled it down to me. Ernie did. I asked him for it and he rolled it down to me and he rolled my chair away and put it in his office. When he retired. We just swapped chairs. We didn’t know about the serial numbers. Now that I know about the serial numbers, I’m thinking, That’s it for me. This office coordinator, she’s going to tell Lynn I took Tom’s buckshelves — and that I took Ernie Kessler’s chair, too, even though he gave it to me. So what choice do I have? If I want to keep my job I have to pretend it is Tom’s chair and roll it down to his office! It’s not his chair — somebody else has Tom’s chair — but last week, that’s exactly what I did. I rolled Ernie Kessler’s chair down to Tom Mota’s office after everyone had gone home. I had to pretend it was Tom’s chair, and for a week now I’ve gone on pretending while I’ve had to sit on this other chair, this little piece-of-crap chair, just so I can avoid getting shitcanned. That was my legitimate chair,” he said, his fists quivering in anguish before him.
     We didn’t blame him for being upset. His chair was a wonderful chair — adjustable, with webbed seating, giving just a little when you first sat down.

Ferris, Joshua. Then We Came to the End. New York: Back Bay Books: 2014.

Quite a Quote

     One day when the guard told me that I’d been in for five months, I believed it, but I didn’t understand it. For me it was one and the same unending day that was unfolding in my cell and the same thing I was trying to do. That day, after the guard had left, I looked at myself in my tin plate. My reflection seemed to remain serious even though I was trying to smile at it. I moved the plate around in front of me. I smiled and it still had the same sad, stern expression. It was near the end of the day, the time of day I don’t like talking about, that nameless hour when the sounds of evening would rise up from every floor of the prison in a cortege of silence. I moved closer to the window, and in the last light of day I gazed at my reflection one more time. It was still serious—and what was surprising about that, since at that moment I was too? But at the same time, and for the first time in months, I distinctly heard the sound of my own voice. I recognized it as the same one that had been ringing in my ears for many long days, and I realized that all that time I had been talking to myself. Then I remembered what the nurse at Maman’s funeral said. No, there was no way out, and no one can imagine what nights in prison are like.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

Passenger

For the Intermittent Writer

333sound

Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

The Wink

This Week in Kink

Zoë Tersche

Freelance writing focusing on internet freedoms and surveillance along with sexuality and gender in media and tech.