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?

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: American

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A certain bohemian, good-witch sort of charm.

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end. But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

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.

One always has a better book in one's mind than one can manage to get onto paper.

Beauty - the beauty Peter craves - is this, then: a human bundle of accidental grace and doom and hope. Mizzy must have hope, he must, he wouldn't shine like this if he were in true despair, and of course he's young, who in this world despairs more exquisitely than the young, it's something the old tend to forget.

It was either the wind or the spirit of the house itself, briefly unsettled by our nocturnal absence but to old to be surprised by the errands born from the gap between what we can imagine and what we can in fact create.

There is a beauty in the world, though it's harsher than we expect it to be.

As any student of literature knows, the books that last are often not the books that are most popular when they are written. Both 'Moby Dick' and 'The Great Gatsby' were complete failures, critically and commercially, when they first appeared.

We'd hoped for love of a different kind, love that knew and forgave our human frailty but did not miniaturize our grander ideas of ourselves.

I have to keep reminding myself that almost everybody is always lying.

Peter glances out at the falling snow. Oh, little man. You have brought down your house not through passion but by neglect. You who dared to think of yourself as dangerous. You are guilty not of the epic transgressions but the tiny crimes. You have failed in the most base and human of ways - you have not imagined the lives of others.

I've been just wondering lately, if this is, you know, it. An apartment and a steady job and some people to love. What more could I want?

Sanity involves a certain measure of impersonation, not simply for the benefit of husband and servants but for the sake, first and foremost, of one's own convictions.

Take me with you. I want a doomed love. I want streets at night, wind and rain, no one wondering where I am.