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

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

     That’s the way it always is! Like someone went and cut a tiny little sliver of boundless nature out for us, for people: here you go, Golubchiks, a little bit of sun, a bit of summer, some tulip flowers, a tiny bit of greengrass, a few small birds thrown in for spare change. And that’s enough. But I’ll hide all the other creatures, I’ll wrap them in the night, cover them in darkness, stick them in the forest and under the ground like a sleeve, I’ll bury them, starlight’s enough for them, they’re just fine. Let them rustle, scamper, squeak, multiply, live their own lives. And you, well, go and catch ’em if you can. You caught some? Eat your fill. And if you didn’t, do the best you can.

Tolstaya, Tatyana. The Slynx. New York: New York Review Books, 2003.

Quite a Quote

     “I don’t know.” Isaac spoke slowly. “But I think so. I’m your best bet, I reckon. I’m not a chymist, or a biologist, or a thaumaturge . . . I’m a dilettante, Yagharek, a dabbler. I think of myself . . .” Isaac paused and laughed briefly. He spoke with heavy gusto. “I think of myself as the main station for all the schools of thought. Like Perdido Street Station. You know it?” Yagharek nodded. “Unavoidable, ain’t it? Fucking massive great thing.” Isaac patted his belly, maintaining the analogy. “All the trainlines meet there—Sud Line, Dexter, Verso, Head and Sink Lines; everything has to pass through it. That’s like me. That’s my job. That’s the kind of scientist I am. I’m being frank with you. Thing is, you see, I think that’s what you need.”

Miéville, China. Perdido Street Station. New York: Del Ray, 2000.

Quite a Quote

     Seneca accuses me of putting all my “eggs” in one “basket.” By basket Seneca means men, and the basket I’m in right now, Izzy. I usually put one egg in the basket at a time. I’m basically monogamous. If the egg breaks, or if I feel like switching it, I try not to worry about the gooey mess. But Seneca’s right, there’s no denying it, egg breaking is traumatic. It sends a shock to my nervous system. I twitch, I spasm, I shiver, I shit. I convulse, I’ve pulled hairs out, I chew my bottom lip. I don’t eat, I can’t sleep, my tongue is as parched as if I’m walking in a desert. After a while, I see it for what it is, a splat’s a splat. I move on. I hate runny eggs.
     Lodged in my brain.

Gross, Susana. Maggie Scratch. Barcelona: The Blue Shepherd Press, 2013.

Quite a Quote

     That hurt, didnt it? the boy said.
     Yes. It did.
     Are you real brave?
     Just medium.
     What’s the bravest thing you ever did?
     He spat into the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.
     No. Don’t listen to me. Come on, let’s go.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. London: Picador, 2010.

Quite a Quote

Chalk dust hovers a solid foot above the crushed shell lot. Everything seems to hang in suspension here; even the low white building might be held up by the afternoon’s thickness as much as held down by gravity or some other partiality to earth. Even breathing requires the labored selection of a particular breath from all possible breaths in the ether, bringing it close in to oneself like a blouse pulled down off the rack. Flet leans against the building. Surprisingly, the wall is quite cool, having been treated with a special heat-phobic coating, feels almost too cold, chemically cold against Flet’s back. She pulls away, but the cold cast by the building’s shell doesn’t even project an arm’s length. Unnatural cold.

McSweeney, Joyelle. Flet. Albany: Fence Books, 2007.

Quite a Quote

I adopted at times his method of communication by notes, though to the bolus of paper spurting from the bathroom tap, to the lamination suddenly unyielding to teeth and tongue while eating a sandwich, I would always reply in my manner, directly, to the point, with only a moderate delay, by leaving a note tacked to the pilot-house door in plain view. He never seemed affronted by that, at least. One such dialogue took four days to complete. My glowing message: ‘I never want to see land again!!’ Time passed, dawns and dusks. At last his reply: ‘You never will, my dear.’

Crawford, Stanley. Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine. Champaign/Dublin/London: Dalkey Archive Press, 2012.

Quite a Quote

     Every day I file my report on the political-pervert criminals to whom justice has deservedly been administered. But the most alarming thing about this situation, I write at the end of one day’s report, is that the number of depraved whispering criminals does not decrease with our persecution, it appears to grow. At the very end of my report, under the seal on top of my signature, I allow myself to make a non-general comment: My mother, I report to the High Secretary, has not yet been found.

Arenas, Reinaldo. The Assault. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.


For the Intermittent Writer


Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

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