Literature has been the salvation of the damned, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.

This is being written abord the S.S. Augustus, three days at sea. My suitcase is full of peanut butter, and I am a fugitive from the suburbs of all large cities.

Fiction is experimentation; when it ceases to be that, it ceases to be fiction.

The novel remains for me one of the few forms...where we can describe, step by step, minute by minute, our not altogether unpleasant struggle to put ourselves into a viable and devout relationship to our beloved and mistaken world.

Everything outside was elegant and savage and fleshy. Everything inside was slow and cool and vacant. It seemed a shame to stay inside.

The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.

Adultery and cruelty have well-marked courses of action but what can a man do when his wife wants to appear naked on the stage?

I felt that he was a captive of financial and sentimental commitments, like every other man I know, and that he was no more free to fall in love with a strange woman he saw on a street corner than he was to take a walking trip through French Guiana or to recommence his life in Chicago under an assumed name.

The belief that a crooked heart is betrayed by palsies, tics, and other infirmities dies hard.

His stepmother -wearing a nightgown for comfort and a flowered hat for looks- had spent her days sitting in their parlor window in Baltimore drinking sherry out of a coffee cup.

Like all bitter men, Flint knew less than half the story and was more interested in unloading his own peppery feelings than in learning the truth.

Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.

These napkins are more holy than righteous, Mrs. Wapshot said, and most of her conversation at table was made up of just such chestnuts, saws and hoary puns.

I don't like to see all my energies, all of my youth, wasted in fur coats and radios and slipcovers.

Rachel's way was not so easy. When she lost her fat she became very pretty and quite fast. She smoked and drank and probably fornicated and the abyss that opens up before a pretty and an intemperate young woman is unfathomable.

Art is the triumph over chaos.

Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house.

There is something universal about being stood up in a city restaurant between one and two—a spiritual no-man's-land, whose blasted trees, entrenchments, and ratholes we all share, disarmed by the gullibility of our hearts.

Was his memory failing or had he so disciplined it in the repression of unpleasant facts that he had damaged his sense of the truth?

I was here on earth because I chose to be.

Oh, God, you bore me this morning, my wife said.

In middle age there is mystery, there is mystification. The most I can make out of this hour is a kind of loneliness. Even the beauty of the visible world seems to crumble, yes even love. I feel that there has been some miscarriage, some wrong turning, but I do not know when it took place and I have no hope of finding it.

How can a people who do not mean to understand death hope to understand love, and who will sound the alarm?

The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe four hundred people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony.

I do not understand the capricious lewdness of the sleeping mind.

A NEW CONQUEST always had a wonderful effect on Charlie. He became overnight generous, understanding, inexhaustibly good-humored, relaxed, kind to cats, dogs, and strangers, expansive, and compassionate.

Her hair was dyed, and her bloom was fading, and she must have been crowding forty, but she seemed to be one of those women who cling to the manners and graces of a pretty child of eight.

I do what I have to do, like everyone else, and one of the things I have to do is to serve my wife breakfast in bed.

Artemis was the sort of man who frequently proposed marriage, but at thirty he still had no wife.

Here she barked out her greetings in Italian, anxious to disassociate herself from the horseless American cowboys and above all from her own kind, the truly lost and unwanted, who move like leaves around the edges of the world, gathering only long enough to wait in line and see if there is any mail.

His life was not confined and the delight he took in this observation could not be explained by its suggestion of escape.

Grief was for the others; sorrow and pain were for the others; some terrible mistake had been made.

Alice Malloy had dark, stringy hair, and even her husband, who loved her more than he knew, was sometimes reminded by her lean face of a tenement doorway on a rainy day, for her countenance was long, vacant, and weakly lighted, a passage for the gentle transports and miseries of the poor.

Weeding the peony hedge I hear the windfalls in the orchard; hear them strike the ground, hear them strike against branches as they fall to the ground. The immemorial smell of apples, old as the sea. Mary makes jelly. Up from the kitchen, up the stairs and into all the rooms comes the smell of apples.

It is unlikely that Percy would have written my mother after her return from Europe, and, had she written, the letter would have been destroyed, since that family had a crusading detestation of souvenirs. Letters, photographs, diplomas—anything that authenticated the past was always thrown into the fire.

They were delivered to mansions remodeled into country clubs, boarding schools, retreats for the insane, alcohol cures, health farms, wildlife sanctuaries, wallpaper factories, drafting rooms and places where the aged and the infirm waited sniffily for the angel of death in front of their television sets.

When you get to be as old and as rich as I am, it’s hard to meet people.

Homesickness is absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. You don't really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don't have, or haven't been able to find.

He shook out a copy of The Manchester Guardian. He had noticed that conservative newspapers sometimes inspired confidence in the shy.

Like most incurable fibbers, she had an extravagant regard for the truth, which she expressed by sending up signals meant to indicate that she was lying.

The landings were dirty and the walls were bare. This stairway brought me into the balcony, and I sat there in the dark, thinking that nothing now was going to save me, that no pretty girl with new shoes was going to cross my path in time.

The music came through clearly. The new instrument had a much purer tone, she thought, than the old one. She decided that tone was most important and that she could conceal the cabinet behind a sofa. But as soon as she had made her peace with the radio, the interference began.

She perceived vaguely the pitiful corruption of the adult world; how cruel and frail it was, like a worn piece of burlap, patched with stupidities and mistakes, useless and ugly, and yet they never saw its worthlessness.

JIM AND IRENE Westcott were the kind of people who seem to strike that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability that is reached by the statistical reports in college alumni bulletins.

I've been homesick for countries I've never been, and longed to be where I couldn't be.

Standing in the rain outside the door of Percy's old house, we seemed bound together not by blood and not by love but by a sense that the world and its works were hostile.

Another historical peculiarity of the place was the fact that its large mansions, those relics of another time, had not been reconstructed to serve as nursing homes for that vast population of comatose and the dying who were kept alive, unconscionably, through trailblazing medical invention.

Literature has been our salvation, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.

For lovers, touch is metamorphosis. All the parts of their bodies seem to change, and they seem to become something different and better.