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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.