Because I have been super busy the last month with coursework I haven’t had much time to devote to creative writing. I have, on the other hand, been doing a lot of reading. So I thought I could do another Quotes post. This one might be a bit text heavy, especially drawing from work I am doing in Indigenous Literature, Alice Munro, and short story composition.
[As always] these are delicious quotes and other cool things I have seen and heard over the last few weeks:
“–I mean to marry money. She’ll have a good fat account at the bank or she won’t do for me.
Little Chandler shook his head.
–Why, man alive, said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, do you know what it is? I’ve only to say the word and to-morrow I can have the woman and the cash. You don’t believe it? Well, I know it. There are hundreds–what am I saying?–thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten with money, that’d only be too glad…. You wait a while, my boy. See if I don’t play my cards properly. When I go about a thing I mean business, I tell you. You just wait.
He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a calmer tone:
–But I’m in no hurry. They can wait. I don’t fancy tying myself up to one woman, you know.
He initiated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face.
–Must get a bit stale, I should think, he said.” (pg 61-62) Ignatius Gallaher sermonizing from the pub ledge on monogamy to his itchy-footed friend Little Chandler, from James Joyce’s story “A Little Cloud,” in Dubliners (1914)
“The sad thing about our school was that we were so far behind the system. It’s true, and as a result, the students in our school were baby birds falling to their deaths while the school was guilty of failure to breathe… One day we were having this huge debate about whether it was environment or upbringing that creates a criminal. I looked around. Wasn’t it fucking obvious? With the quiet bleeding labour of shellfish in our lockers. The sweet rotting flesh of our feet. The fluorescent lights making me weakdizzydemented. The crab cream two desks over. The gum under my desk. The spits on the floor. The silverfish.” (pg 8) Larry Sole, a Dogrib Indian, surveys the state of the Northwest Territory public school system in the 80s, from Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed (1996).
“People make momentous shifts, but not the changes they imagine.” (pg 429) Alice Munro waxing philosophical in a one-sentence paragraph, from her story “Differently,” in Friend Of My Youth (1990).
“Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven–a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax.” (pg 8) Nick Carraway captures how Tom Buchanan’s unsettledness is a product of his best days being behind him, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925).
– A full colour panel of a Métis man warming himself by the fire, from the children’s book I am writing with J called napewak ekwa napesisak (men and boys), illustrated by J.
“Eddie managed to catch up with the bus and drag himself all the way to the driver’s door. He didn’t even bang on the glass, he was so weak. He just looked at the driver with moist eyes and fell to his knees, panting and wheezing. And this reminded the driver of something–something from out of the past, from a time even before he wanted to become a bus driver, when he still wanted to become God. It was kind of a sad memory, because the driver didn’t become God in the end, but it was a happy one too, because he became a bus driver, which was his second choice.” (pg 5) Etgar Keret hits with perfect hilarity the power trip of a bus driver, from his story “the bus driver who wanted to be god” in his collection the bus driver who wanted to be god and other stories (2001).
“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you want to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” (pg 40) Nick Carraway gushing over Jay Gatsby upon meeting him for the first time at a cocktail party, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925).
“I am not trying to worry you or get sympathy either but just explain how the idea I won’t ever see Carstairs again makes me think I can say anything I want. I guess it’s like being sick with a fever. So I will say I love you. I think of you up on a stool at the Library reaching to put a book away and I come up and put my hands on your waist and lift you down, and you turning around inside my arms as if we agreed about everything.” (pg 436) Jack Agnew writes a letter to the town librarian from the front during World War I and perfectly captures the imagination of the soldier who lives on the edge of life daily, from Alice Munro’s story “Carried Away” in her collection Open Secrets (1994).
Other posts in this series: