I sometimes wonder how you live with such a modest sense of romance," Barrett says. "Superstition and romance are not the same thing.

What’s the most fundamental human urge?

Here is what unsayable about us: Jonathan and I are members of a team so old nobody else could join even if we wanted them to. What binds us is stronger than sex. It is stronger than love. We're related. Each of us is the other born into a different flesh.

This indiscriminate love feels entirely serious to her, as if everything in the world is part of a vast, inscrutable intention and everything in the world has its own secret name, a name that cannot be conveyed in language but is simply the sight and feel of the thing itself.

On a summer night it can be lovely to sit around outside with friends after dinner and, yes, read poetry to each other. Keats and Yeats will never let you down, but it's differently exciting to read the work of poets who are still walking around out there.

There's the appeal of the young thief who robs you, and climbs back down off your cloud. It's possible to love that boy, in a wistful and hopeless way. It's possible to love his greed and narcissism, to grant him that which is beyond your own capacities: heedlessness, cockiness, a self-devotion so pure it borders on the divine.

You have started the book with this bubble over your head that contains a cathedral full of fire - that contains a novel so vast and great and penetrating and bright and dark that it will put all other novels ever written to shame. And then, as you get towards the end, you begin to realise, no, it's just this book.

You don't necessarily meet a lot of people in this world. Not when you let yourself get distracted by music and the passing of hours.

I am beginning to understand the true difference between youth and age. Young people have time to make plans and think of new ideas. Older people need their whole energy to keep up with what's already been set in motion.

It's the country that would have him, since he lacked the necessary papers for more promising places.

Who knows what succession of girls and boys sneak in through the sliding glass doors at night, after the mother has sunk to the bottom of her own private lake, with the help of Absolut and Klonopin?

What do you do when you're no longer the hero of your own story?

It's the solitude that slays you. Maybe because you'd expected ruin to arrive in a grander and more romantic form.

She could have had a life as potent and dangerous as literature itself.

It's better, really, to go out in a blaze. That's why we love Marilyn, and James Dean. We love the ones who walk right into the fire.

My little girl, oh, the daughter I never had. Now tell me, angel, are you fucking anybody new?

Here's the sting of livingness. He's back after his nightly voyage of sleep, all clarity and purpose; he's renewed his citizenship in the world of people who strive and connect, people who mean business, people who burn and want, who remember everything, who walk lucid and unafraid.

He knows about damage the way a woman does. He knows, the way a woman knows, how to carry on as if nothing's wrong.

It's hardly ever the destination we've been anticipating, is it? Our hopes may seem unrealized, but we were in all likelihood hoping for the wrong thing. Where did we--the species, that is--pick up that strange and perverse habit?

Morning, Peter, she calls.

And when somebody comes up to me with big hair and gobs of makeup on and says, 'Can I help you,' it's all I can do not to scream, 'Bitch, you can't even help yourself.

It's stores, it's the whole thing, all that shit everywhere, 'scuse me, that merchandise, all those goods, and ads screaming at you from all over the place, buy buy buy buy buy, and when somebody comes up to me with big hair and gobs of makeup on and says, 'Can I help you?', it's all I can do not to scream, 'Bitch, you can't even help yourself.

If I were thinking clearly, Leonard, I would tell you that I wrestle alone in the dark, in the deep dark. And that only I can know, only I can understand my own condition. You live with the threat, you tell me you live with the threat of my extinction. Leonard, I live with it too.

This is a Southern gift, isn't it - tremendous self-regard diluted with humor and modesty. That's what they mean by Southern charm, right?