That was the real difference, Ferguson concluded. Not too little money or too much money, not what a person did or failed to do, not buying a larger house or a more expensive car, but ambition. That explained why Brownstein and Solomon managed to float through their lives in relative peace—because they weren't tormented by the curse of ambition.
I tend to think that everything counts. In the end, each life is no more than the sum of contingent facts, a chronicle of chance intersections, of ﬂukes, of random events that divulge nothing but their own lack of purpose.
I guess I wanted to leave America for awhile. It wasn't that I wanted to become an expatriate, or just never come back, I needed some breathing room. I'd already been translating French poetry, I'd been to Paris once before and liked it very much, and so I just went.
And that's why books are never going to die. It's impossible. It's the only time we really go into the mind of a stranger, and we find our common humanity doing this. So the book doesn't only belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader as well, and then together you make it what it is.
The book that convinced me I wanted to be a writer was 'Crime and Punishment'. I put the thing down after reading it in a fever over two or three days... I said, 'If this is what a book can be, then that is what I want to do.'
Becoming a writer is not a 'career decision' like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don't choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you're not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.
Bodies count, of course - they count more than we're willing to admit - but we don't fall in love with bodies, we fall in love with each other. We all know that, but the moment we go beyond a catalogue of surface qualities and appearances, words begin to fail us, to crumble apart in mystical confusions and cloudy, unsubstantial metaphors.
I'm an intelligent pessimist, a pessimist who has occasional flashes of optimism. Nearly everything happens for the worst, but not always, you see, nothing is ever always, but i'm always expecting the worst, and when the worst doesn't happen, I get so excited I begin to sound like an optimist.
Every book is an image of solitude. It is a tangible object that one can pick up, put down, open, and close, and its words represent many months if not many years, of one man's solitude, so that with each word one reads in a book one might say to himself that he is confronting a particle of that solitude.
These are treacherous times, and I know how easily perceptions can be twisted by a single word spoken into the wrong ear. Impugn a man's character, and everything that man does is made to seem underhanded, suspect, fraught with double motives.
There it was: a full confession. Sherlock Holmes had done it again, and as I marveled at my devastating powers of deduction, I wished there had been two of me so I could have patted myself in the back.
He wants to say. That is to say, he means. As in the French, vouloir dire, which means, literally, to want to say, but which means, in fact, to mean. He means to say what he wants. He wants to say what he means. He says what he wants to mean. He means what he says.
The impediment to the building of Babel—that man must fill the earth—would be eliminated. At that moment it would again be possible for the whole earth to be of one language and one speech. And if that were to happen, paradise could not be far behind.
The whole scene had an imaginary quality to it. I knew that it was real, but at the same time it was better than reality, more nearly a projection of what I wanted from reality than anything I had experienced before.