They were moving along like that, each cupping a hold of the other. In Madeleine's face was a stupidity Mitchell had never seen before. It was the stupidity of all normal people. It was the stupidity of the beautiful and fortunate, of everybody who got what they wanted in life and so remained unremarkable.
At the time, infatuated with Nietzsche (and half asleep), Leonard didn't want to get into this argument, the truth of which wasn't that all religions were equally valid but that they were equally nonsensical.
After denuding the trunk, the men left to denude others, and for a time the tree stood blighted, trying to raise its stunted arms, a creature clubbed mute, only its sudden voicelessness making us realize it had been speaking all along.
The more she thought about it, the more Madeleine understood that extreme solitude didn't just describe the way she was feeling about Leonard. It explained how she'd always felt when she was in love. It explained what love was like and, just maybe, what was wrong with it.
It is perhaps in reading a love story (or in writing one) that we can simultaneously partake of the ecstasy and agony of being in love without paying a crippling emotional price. I offer this book, then, as a cure for lovesickness and an antidote to adultery. Read these love stories in the safety of your single bed. Let everybody else suffer.
Basically you come up with the fictional idea and you start writing that story, but then in order to write it and to make it seem real, you sometimes put your own memories in. Even if it's a character that's very different from you.
He was like a statue being chiseled away from the inside, hollowed out. As more and more of his thoughts gave him pain, Milton had increasingly avoided them. Instead he concentrated on the few that made him feel better, the bromides about everything working out. Milton, quite simply, had ceased to think things through.
Tessie and I lay in our chairs, listening to wax being violently removed. 'Oh my!' cried the large lady. 'Is nothing,' belittled Helga. 'I do it perfect.' 'Oweee!' yelped a bikini-liner. And Helga, taking an oddly femenist stance: 'See what you do for the mens? You suffer. Is not worth it.
I studied English literature in the honors program, which means that you had to take courses in various centuries. You had to start with Old English, Middle English, and work your way toward the modern. I figured if I did that it would force me to read some of the things I might not read on my own.
I understood at those times what I was leaving behind: the solidarity of a shared biology. Women know what it means to have a body. They understand its difficulties and frailties, its glories and pleasures. Men think their bodies are theirs alone. They tend them in private, even in public.
I had a briefcase at one point, but it was a kind of 1980s New Wave briefcase. It was made of some kind of cardboard and it had metal hinges. It was kind of faux industrial looking, and I used to carry my books in it rather than a backpack. I didn't want to have normal student accoutrements.
They lined you up in kindergarten, alphabetically. On fourth-grade field trips you took your partner's hand to push past the musk ox or the steam turbine. School was a perpetual lineup, ending in this final one.
Yes, you need a passport to prove to the world that you exist. The people at passport control, they cannot look at you and see you are a person. No! They have to look at a little photograph of you. Then they believe you exist.