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.

One very big album, bound in expensive leather with a gold-stamped title on the cover - This is our life: The Austers - was totally blank inside.

Stories only happen to those who are able to tell them.

Novels are fictions and therefore they tell lies, but through those lies every novelist attempts to tell the truth about the world.

We don't want to know when we will die or when the people we love will betray us....we're hungry to know the dead before they were dead, to acquaint ourselves with the dead as living beings.

We are continually shaped by the forces of coincidence.

He wound up misbehaving in a manner so bold and outlandishly inappropriate that it wasn't clear to him if he had lost his mind or accidentally solved the mystery of the universe.

A pulverized apple and a pulverized orange are finally the same thing, aren't they? You.

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.'

I've learned not to look at reviews. Early on, I did. I was always curious.

As long as a man had the courage to reject what society told him to do, he could live life on his own terms. To what end? To be free. But free to what end? To read books, to write books, to think.

Wounds are an essential part of life, and until you are wounded in some way, you cannot become a man.

This is the kind of room poets are supposed to work in, the kind of room that threatens to break your spirit and forces you into constant battle with yourself.

Our lifelong certainties about the world can be demolished in a single second.

Real love...is when you get as much pleasure from giving pleasure as you do from receiving it.

When you're young, you keep reading new writers and you keep changing your mind about how you ought to sound.

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.

I was the best thing that could have happened to him, it was the worst thing that could have happened to him.

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.

All through my writing life, I've had this impulse to write autobiographical works.

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.

We are all aliens to ourselves, and if we have any sense of who we are, it is only because we live inside the eyes of others.

Everything can change at any moment, suddenly and forever.

Money's important. Everyone cares about money. And when you don't have money, money becomes the overriding obsession of your life.

At fifty-seven, I felt old. Now, at seventy-four, I feel much younger than I did then.

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.

We are all aliens to ourselves.

A dream, a wild dream of removing ourselves from the cares and sorrows of this miserable world and creating a world of our own. A long shot, yes, but who's to say it can't happen?

It was never possible for him to be where he was. For as long as he lived, he was somewhere else, between here and there. But never really here. And never really there.

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.

The walking wounded, opening their veins and bleeding in public.

Everything solid for a time, and then the sun comes up one morning and the world begins to melt.

She's too sad to be beautiful. No one that sad can still be beautiful.

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.

You understood that there was no better thing in the world than to be kissed in the way she was kissing you, that this was without argument the single most important justification for being alive.

We promised to stay in touch with each other, but of course we never did, and that was the last time I ever saw her. ‘You're.

I think I hate cynicism more than anything else. It's the curse of our age, and I want to avoid it at all costs.

When I'm writing, I don't feel neurotic. So it's better for the family if I'm working.

Rather than punch the girl in the face, he abruptly stood up from his seat and walked away.

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.

Writing makes you feel that there is a reason to go on living. If I couldn't write, I would stop breathing.

If you look into someone's face long enough, eventually you're going to feel that you're looking at yourself.

People who don't like my work say that the connections seem too arbitrary. But that's how life is.

For me, a paragraph in a novel is a bit like a line in a poem. It has its own shape, its own music, its own integrity.

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.