"It was not uncommon as the weeks passed into months, that the day went by without a word between them being spoken. They still touched. Their touch, lingering on contact, last through the night while they were sleeping, cloning them into a single dreamless creature. Sometimes, without realizing it, they held hands as they took their meals at the rough table, Fos laying his hand on top of hers, not noticing, as his palm grew callused with farm work how her skin had chafed, grown coarser, too. It was as if a vow of silence, like a marriage vow, held them in thrall. Like monks communing with the sacred: there really wasn’t anything to say. Exhaustion, on its own, might have served to silence them–talk, after all, takes energy and concentration. Talk takes work, and they were tired at the end of every day. Still, in the beginning, they found strength. They whispered when they went to bed. They confided in each other. But soon too many things began to happen. One layer at a time–one thing, then another, like quick layers of embalming stoppered their responses, caught them speechless, baffled them, rendered their inarticulateness complete."
– Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
"The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to enhance violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold, we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy. How can I tell you about the people of Omelas? They were not naïve and happy children–though their children were, in fact, happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you."
– The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Urusla K. LeGuin
"Does such a thing as ‘the fatal flaw,’ that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn’t. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs."
– The Secret History by Donna Tartt
"If writing were as fun as falling in love, I’d get a lot more written, but most of my Realizations come as pinpoints of light while staring at the dismal tundra of an empty page. Given my average event horizon, most of my ideas don’t have the bursts, the color spectra of world-altering discoveries like Newton’s did, or Galileo’s. Mine are minor stellar occurrences, but strung up as a necklace of small lights, my bright ideas dot the boundaries that define my life. When one occurs, then, it’s a Birth Day, like the birth of a new star far off in the universe."
– The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
"In our dreams, as in our tales, we use the dead to tell us things we’d otherwise have to admit that we are saying to ourselves."
– The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
"Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ that they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. Any man who can take a TV wall apart and put it back together again, and most men can, nowadays, is happier than any man who tried to slide rule, measure, and equate the universe, which just won’t be measured or equated without making man feel bestial and lonely. I know, I’ve tried it; to hell with it. So bring on your clubs and parties, your acrobats and magicians, your daredevils, jet cars, motorcycle helicopters, your sex and heroin, more of everything to do with automatic reflect. If the drama is bad, if the film says nothing, if the play is hollow, sting me with Theremin, loudly. I’ll think I’m responding to the play, when it’s only a tactile reaction to vibration. But I don’t care. I just like solid entertainment."
– Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"Buckshot’s fat body rolled forward with effortless steps, fat belly plump butt quivering with dancing jazz. He hopped into the air when the bass of the piano neared its lowest depth, seemed to hang suspended for a moment with one knee bent against his chest, balanced in the toe’s tip of the outstretched leg, then stomped his foot in mock anger right on time with the final bass note.
“Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaah!” the crowd chorused.
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” Aaron cried, dancing every step with Buckshot, anticipating every graceful quiver and effortless roll; and when Buckshot raised up, with an arrogant expression on his face, one eyebrow arched in a mocking, feminine manner, tan cheeks sucked in, lips pursed in a cupid-bow kiss, little pinkie beckoning, the back of a hand on the hump of an out-flung hip, a sardonic smile playing over his pursed lips, brightening the brown eyes, he jelly-assed with him in a mincing, knock-kneed gait closer to the porch and called out:
“Boogie, baby, boogie!
“Boogie boogie, boogie.”
The piano rolled down deep again, and when it reached its lowest notes, Buckshot hopped into the air again, brought his right foot down with terrific force, but stopped it a scant inch from the walk, and gently tapped his toe.
“Go ahead, baby! Go ahead! Go ahead!” Aaron cried, sharing the immense and beautifully controlled power.
And as the brass joined in again, and a wild trumpet began to solo with shrill authority, Buckshot threw his hands in the air, scattered his fingers, and rocked up the walk with tight legs, top-heavy in the head, still sanding, his whole body quivering with exalted joy, his eyes as moist as melting chocolate, his mouth open in a silent cry of ecstasy.
“Take us with you, Buckshot! Take us with you!"
– Tattoo the Wicked Cross by Floyd Salas
"I hope nobody has ever had to look at somebody they love through glass."
– If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
And then Fonny said, “Hadn’t been for me, I believe the cat would have split the scene. I’ll always love my Daddy because he didn’t leave me.” I’ll always remember Fonny’s face when he talked about his Daddy.
Then, Fonny would turn to me and take me in his arms and laugh and say, “You remind me a lot of my mother, you know that? Come on, now, and let’s sing together, Sinner, do you love my Lord? –And if I don’t hear no moaning, I’ll know you ain’t been saved.”
I guess it can’t be too often that two people can laugh and make love, too, make love because they are laughing, laugh because they’re making love. The love and the laughter come from the same place: but not many people go there.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
I’ll never forget how, one night, with my two sons, I went to the river. Near the bank, in front of a cottonwood tree I called my tre. I undressed and danced and fell on the ground squirming and swiveling as if I was mating with the Earth.
I held the hands of my sons and crouched on the muddy bank and I dipped my hand in the water and wet our faces. I dried us off with my skirt and we laid back and while looking up at the night sky, I suddenly started crying. I yearned for Mexico.
I am crossing back now, a rare songbird, vanishing into the jungle. A bird without a name, that will appear to you only during certain times of the seasons.
A Glass of Water by Jimmy Santiago Baca
One of the most heartbreaking but beautiful stories I have ever been told. I now consider this necessary American literature.