Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quotes Worth Quoting

Only within the last year or so have I become organized and deliberate in saving favorite quotes, and even then I only record the things that really catch my attention.  Occasionally, as in The Lacuna, it is these gems of beautiful writing that end up tipping the scales for me--from apathy to loyalty. So, here are some from those most recent notables:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (P.S.) [Paperback]1. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, Betty Smith
And he asked for her whole life as simply as he'd ask for a date. And she promised away her whole life as simply as she'd offer a hand in greeting of farewell.

2. ANGELA'S ASHES, Frank McCourt
Angela's AshesIn fine weather men sit outside smoking their cigarettes if they have them, looking at the world and watching us play. Women stand with their arms folded, chatting. They don't sit because all they do is stay at home, take care of the children, clean the house and cook a bit and the men need the chairs. The men sit because they're worn out from walking to the Labour Exchange every morning to sign for the dole, discussing the world's problems and wondering what to do with the rest of the day.

The Lacuna: A Novel (P.S.)3. THE LACUNA, Barbara Kingsolver
In the afternoon when the sun lights the stucco buildings across the street, it's possible to count a dozen different colors of paint, all fading together on the highest parts of the wall: yellow, ochre, brick, blood, cobalt, turquoise. The national color of Mexico. And the scent of Mexico is a similar blend: jasmine, dog piss, cilantro, lime. Mexico admits you through an arched stone orifice into the tree-filled courtyard of its heart, where a dog pisses against a wall and a waiter hustles through a curtain of jasmine to bring a bowl of tortilla soup, steaming with cilantro and lime. Cats stalk lizards among the clay pots around the fountain, doves settle into the flowering vines and coo their prayers, thankful for the existence of lizards. The potted plants silently exhale, outgrowing their clay pots. Like Mexico's children they stand pinched and patient in last year's too-small shoes.
War and Peace (Vintage Classics)
4. WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy
All we can know is that we know nothing. And that's the height of human wisdom.

5. WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy
...and by loving people without cause he discovered indubitable causes for loving them.

Cather Novels & Stories 1905-1918: The Troll Garden, O Pioneers! The Song of the Lark, and My Antonia6. SONG OF THE LARK, Willa Cather
So it went; one loved a quaint little girl, cheerful, industrious, always on the run and hustling through her tasks; and suddenly one lost her. He had thought he knew that child like the glove on his hand. But about this tall girl who threw up her head and glittered like that all over, he knew nothing.

7.   MY ANTONIA, Willa Cather
Mansfield Park (Everyman's Library (Cloth))As piano playing, it was perhaps abominable, but as music it was something real, vitalized by a sense of rhythm that was stronger than his other physical senses,--that not only filled his dark mind, but worried his body incessantly.

8. MANSFIELD PARK, Jane Austen
Good-humoured, unaffected girls will not do for a man who has been used to sensible women.

The Master and Margarita (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)9.  THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, Mikhail Bulgakov
So, then, to convince yourself that Dostoevsky was a writer, do you have to ask for his identification card?  Just take any five pages form any one of his novels and you'll be convinced, without any identification card, that you're dealing with a writer.

10. THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, Mikhail Bulgakov
"Dostoevsky's dead," said the citizeness, but somehow not very confidently.
"I protest!" Behemoth exclaimed hotly.  "Dostoevsky is immortal!"


  1. I am impressed by your quote-keeping! I really need to organize myself. I have scraps of paper strewn about my apartment on which I've jotted quotes. Maybe it's time to get a notebook!

    I especially like your choice from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  2. Great list! The language (and especially the imagery) was what redeemed Lacuna for me too. I wasn't sure if I'd liked the book when I finished it, but then I went back to copy out all of the phrases/sentences/paragraphs I'd flagged for 'further consideration' and realized how truly beautiful some of them were.

  3. I only know Angela's Ashes of your list, but the quotes are beautiful!

  4. Great list!! The only one I've read is Angela's Ashes but I have most all of these on my TBR list and actually own a decent amount of them lol. Now I just need to read them!!

  5. I agree with Erin, I need to much more diligently look for and keep quotes. I love the quote from My Antonia. That's one I've always wanted to read but never quite got around too.

  6. Just lovely. Thank you for sharing these.

    I hope you will stop by and take a look at mine:


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