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

     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

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.

Quite a Quote

Pulled up to house. Another silence as we regarded blank empty yard. That is, mostly crabgrass and no red Oriental bridge w/ancient hoofprints and no outbuildings and not a single SG, but only Ferber, who we’d kind of forgotten about, and who, as usual, had circled round and round the tree until nearly choking to death on his gradually shortening leash, having basically tethered himself to the ground in supine position, and was looking up at us with begging eyes in which desperation was combined with a sort of low boiling anger.

Saunders, George. “The Semplica Girl Diaries.” In Tenth of December, 109–167. New York: Random House, 2013.

Quite a Quote

     Mr. Rube hollered to his oldest to bring more water, and when the boy opened the cabin door Big Ole Dog followed him and, to everyone’s horror, grabbed the baby off the pan and ran out the door.
     “Get that dog! Get that dog!”
     But it was too late. Big Ole disappeared into the timber, and the dogs that had been sleeping just put their heads up, then laid them back down again when the commotion was over.

Dietz, R. E., “The Booger-Dog,” Feral: A Journal of Ozarkian Gothic, no. 1 (Winter 2015).

15-Minute Fiction

He stared at his coffee and swirled it around with the straw.
     “I was expecting more,” were the words coming from his girlfriend. It was a Monday and he was supposed to be at work, but he had allowed her to coax him away from it. She lifted up her purse and withdrew the ring. “This is it? This is all I’m worth?”
     “It’s a nice ring.”
     She didn’t say a word, simply held the ring in her hand as if offering it to him. He looked up at her.
     “I can get another, you know. It might take some time—”
     “I don’t want a-fucking-nother! I told you what I expected and you went and got this anyway. How stupid can you be?”
     There was a moment of silence and he looked away. Outside it began to rain.
     “It was too much.”
     “What do you mean it was too much? It was a simple request.”
     “Do you know how much work goes into getting one?” He looked back at her and tried to feign anger. “It’s not a simple matter. I have to find it first, then figure out the finances, then how—”
     “I don’t care what goes into it. Everyone has one and I’m not going to be left out. Just do it.”
     She put the ring back into her bag and began sliding out of the booth.
     “Bell, wait,” he said, reaching for her hand.
     “Don’t touch me. Don’t talk to me. Text me when you have it.” She flipped her hair and made her way for the door. Across the diner their waitress eyed them impassively.
     He watched her slip out the door into the overcast day, stopping momentarily to frown at the sky. She then dashed to her car while unlocking it with her remote key fob. Inside she drew out her phone and placed a call, exchanging some words before starting her car and pulling away.
     He sighed and looked back at his coffee, no longer steaming. He wasn’t going to get it; he didn’t want to. But he was stuck with her. It was now a question of how to remove her from the equation.

Quite a Quote

     So began, for Oedipa, the languid, sinister blooming of The Tristero. Or rather, her attendance at some unique performance, prolonged as if it were the last of the night, something a little extra for whoever’d stayed this late. As if the breakaway gowns, net bras, jeweled garters and G-strings of historical figuration that would fall away were layered dense as Oedipa’s own street clothes in that game with Metzger in front of the Baby Igor movie; as if a plunge toward dawn indefinite black hours long would indeed be necessary before The Tristero could be revealed in its terrible nakedness. Would its smile, then, be coy, and would it flirt away harmlessly backstage, say good night with a Bourbon Street bow and leave her in peace? Or would it instead, the dance ended, come back down the runway, its luminous stare locked to Oedipa’s, smile gone malign and pitiless; bend to her alone among the desolate rows of seats and begin to speak words she never wanted to hear?

Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49. New York: Harper Perennial, 2006.

Passenger

For the Intermittent Writer

333sound

Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

The Wink

This Week in Kink

Zoë Tersche

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