Though words sometimes puzzled Alma, she never looked up any word in any dictionary; a word was like a pebble to be turned briefly in the hand, and tossed away, with no expectation that it would be encountered again.

He was ugly, himself. Weird-ugly. But ugliness in a man doesn't matter, much. Ugliness in a woman is her life.

Asked by a journalist how he had felt after an unsuccessful election, Abraham Lincoln said, Like a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark, he was too old to cry but it hurt too much to laugh.

I am not conscious of working especially hard, or of 'working' at all. Writing and teaching have always been, for me, so richly rewarding that I don't think of them as work in the usual sense of the word.

Mark Twain was very unhappy with himself for various reasons. He was very unhappy with America of this time. He thought it was terrible we had no anti-lynching laws, and he was also a feminist, and he was also very concerned with anti-Semitism. He was a good man, but he was hard on himself.

If you're living with a scientist, you see the world differently than you do with a humanist. It's in some ways very subtle, the differences in perceiving reality.

How mysterious it is, to be in love. For you can be in love with one who knows nothing of you. Perhpas our greatest happinesses spring from such longings-being in love with one who is oblivious of you.

Writing! The activity for which the only adequate bribe is the possibility of suicide, one day.

If marriage is a masquerade, there is the very real danger that masks may slip.

The mysteries of the female sex! We men can never hope to fathom your depths, but only try not to drown in them.

My crappy-kid's life. It was mostly a shitty life wasn't it, OK but I miss it.

I think all art comes out of conflict. When I write I am always looking for the dramatic kernel of an event, the junctures of people's lives when they go in one direction, not another.

We are stimulated to emotional response, not by works that confirm our sense of the world, but by works that challenge it.

Politics, the negotiating of power. Eros, the negotiating of power.

Betrayal is the deepest wound. Betrayal is what remains of love, when love has gone.

The great menace to the life of an industry is industrial self-complacency.

You don't have to understand why anything that has happened nor do you even have to understand what it is that has happened. You have only to live with the remains.

It was hard not to exude the air of a martyr, if one did just slightly more than the other, as it seemed Mickey frequently did.

My parents were very proud of me. After they passed, my career doesn't mean as much to me.

I'd rather be truth-telling and I hope always to be without hypocrisy.

Life is the horror, abortion or miscarriage is the redemption. As Sophocles said so beautifully, ‘Never to have been born is best, but once you've entered this world, return as quickly as possible to the place you came from.

It had seemed to me an elegant nightmare concoction made by adults for adults, to further the aims and fantasies of adults, and what have children to do with such things?

People who are disenfranchised politically and people who are poor often don't vote. They often don't elect politicians, so the politicians who are supporting them are really being very charitable, because they're not going to give them billions of dollars in campaign funds.

Time is the enemy of lovers. Worse even than the frank light of day.

On the way home Mary Lou said, "Some things are so sad you can't say them." But I pretended not to hear.

A man may accommodate himself to a disagreeable situation in a few months. The intolerable may take a little longer.

One writes to memorialize, and to bring to life again that which has been lost.

I think we are all cats with nine lives, or even more. We must rejoice in our elusive catness.

They weren't far from the small city of Ithaca – which meant the vast sprawling spectacular campus of Cornell University...

The fundamental truth of my life whether in fact it was truth or a burlesque of truth: when a man wants you, you're safe.

One thing it was not: love at first sight. He didn't believe in such. He wasn't a believer in romance, sentimental coincidences, meanings snatched out of the air. He certainly didn't believe in destiny, he was a gambler by nature and you know that destiny is just chance you try to manipulate for your own profit. Yet.

To write a novel is to embark on a quest that is very romantic. People have visions, and the next step is to execute them. That's a very romantic project. Like Edvard Munch's strange dreamlike canvases where people are stylized, like 'The Scream.' Munch must have had that vision in a dream, he never saw it.

Strange: how when a light is extinguished, it's immediately as if it has never been. Darkness fills in again, complete.

In marriage, the most intense conversations are often with oneself.

It's where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we really are.

So they'd fucked up her life, those guys she'd trusted, for fun. What the hell.

An actress wants to be seen. An actress wants to be loved. By multitudes of people, not just one lone man.

Obviously the imagination is fueled by emotions beyond the control of the conscious mind.

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.

Cherie, keep walking. Shut your eyes. We are headed for the bridge. We are going to cross it.

And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo - that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.

Remembering backward is the easy thing. If you could remember forward, you could save yourself...

Stalwart Zeno seemed oblivious, that faith in his daughter being alive after more than forty days did not compute with faith that Brett Kincaid would soon be arrested for a crime involving his daughter.

There is an hour, a minute - you will remember it forever - when you know instinctively on the basis of the most inconsequential evidence, that something is wrong. You don't know - can't know - that it is the first of a series of "wrongful" events that will culminate in the utter devastation of your life as you have known it.

She wasn't in love but she would love him, if that would save her.

For what are the words with which to summarize a lifetime, so much crowded confused happiness terminated by such stark slow-motion pain?

When my brother called to inform me, on the morning of May 22, 2003, that our mother Caroline Oates had died suddenly of a stroke, it was a shock from which, in a way, I have yet to recover.

Loving Felix she'd acquired from him a certain arrogance, telling so many lies she'd acquired a zest for lies and quite preferred them to the truth. For a lie had to be invented, truth was common property.

They were astronomers plotting the trajectories of stars.