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30+ quotes from A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Quotes from A Thousand Acres

Jane Smiley ·  371 pages

Rating: (51.4K votes)


“I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you've bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch 'em carry it off, and you don't care. That's more like how it was.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I suspected that there were things he knew that I had been waiting all my life to learn.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“The fact is that the same sequence of days can arrange themselves into a number of different stories.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“But even though I felt her presence, I also felt the habitual fruitlessness of thinking about her. Her images, partly memories of her, partly memories of photos I had seen of her, yielded no new answers to old mysteries.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“Shame is a distinct feeling. I couldn’t look at my hands around the coffee cup or hear my own laments without feeling appalled, wanting desperately to fall silent, grow smaller. More than that, I was uncomfortably conscious of my whole body, from the awkward way that the shafts of my hair were thrusting out of my scalp to my feet, which felt dirty as well as cold. Everywhere, I seemed to feel my skin from the inside, as if it now stood away from my flesh, separated by a millimeter of mortified space.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“Daddy thinks history starts fresh every day, every minute, that time itself begins with the feelings he’s having right now. That’s how he keeps betraying us, why he roars at us with such conviction.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“Had I faced all the facts It seemed like I had but actually you never know just by remembering how many there were to have faced.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“You know when we came out of the clinic, and we saw those flower beds that we hadn’t seen when we were walking in? That was so unexpected, I think it made me delirious somehow. And then it seemed like if we just threw off all restraints and talked wildly and ate wildly and shopped wildly, it would just turn up the delirium, and make it even better, or permanent somehow...”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I always feel a little guilty when I break bad news to someone, because that energy, of knowing something others don’t, sort of puffs you up.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“We’re not going to be sad. We’re going to be angry until we die. It’s the only hope.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“...and that's how the tournament started, the Million Dollar World Series of Monopoly...

...Jess and Pete thought alike -- like city boys, my father would have said, looking for the payoff in a situation rather than the pitfall. Rose and Ty and I played like farmers, looking for pitfalls, holes, drop-offs, something small that will tip the tractor, break it, eat into your time, your crop, the profits that already exist in your mind, and not only as a result of crop projections and long-range forecasts, but also as an ideal that has never been attained, but could be this year.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“what it feels like to resist without seeming to resist, to absent yourself while seeming respectful and attentive.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“She dressed to look good, and I dressed for obscurity.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I always think that things have to happen the way they do happen, that there are so many inner and outer forces joining at every event that it becomes a kind of fate. I learned from studying Buddhism that there’s beauty, and certainly a lot of peace, in accepting that.” I sniffed. A smile twinkled sheepishly across his face. “Okay, okay,” he said, “how about this? If you worry about it, you draw it to you.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“We came to the corner, waited for the light, and crossed. I had no idea where we were going. I said, “I didn’t realize you were so depressed.” “I was depressed, but that was a side issue. This was more like closing up shop, or, say, having a big garage sale, where you look at everything you’ve bought in your life, and you remember how much it meant to you, and now you just tag it for a quarter and watch ’em all carry it off, and you don’t care. That’s more like how it was.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“They throw themselves on the waters of the world, and they know they will be borne up.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“...I had been with my father so constantly for so long that I knew less and less about him with every passing year. Every meaningful image was jumbled together with the countless moments of our daily life defeating my efforts to gain some perspective.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“At sixty miles per hour, you could pass our farm in a minute, on County Road 686, which ran due north into the T intersection at Cabot Street Road.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“When I went to first grade and the other children said that their fathers were farmers, I simply didn't believe them. I agreed in order to be polite, but in my heart I knew that those men were impostors, as farmers and as fathers, too. In my youthful estimation, Laurence Cook defined both categories. To really believe that others even existed in either category was to break the First Commandment.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I had a burden lift off me that I hadn't even felt the heaviness of until then, and it was the burden of having to wait and see what was going to happen.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I looked at her without replying. For me it had been more like being a passenger in a car that was going out of control. For three months we’d been swerving across the road, missing light poles and oncoming vehicles. Now the car was under control again,”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“Seeing him somewhere was always a pleasure, like taking a drink of water.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“It was imperative that the growing discord in our family be made to appear minor. The indication that my father truly was beside himself was the way he had carried his argument with us to others. But we couldn’t give in to that—we were well trained. We knew our roles and our strategies without hesitation and without consultation. The paramount value of looking right is not something you walk away from after a single night. After such a night as we had, in fact, it is something you embrace, the broken plank you are left with after the ship has gone down.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“He laughed with a kind of mirthless bark.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“She always said, 'When I'm home, I've got to get things done, even if there are visitors. Elizabeth knows how to relax in her own house.' And then she would shake her head, as if Elizabeth had remarkable powers.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“Linda was just born when I had my first miscarriage, and for a while, six months maybe, the sight of those two babies, whom I had loved and cared for with real interest and satisfaction, affected me like a poison. All my tissues hurt when I saw them, when I saw Rose with them, as if my capillaries were carrying acid into the furthest reaches of my system. I was so jealous, and so freshly jealous every time I saw them, that I could hardly speak, and I wasn’t very nice to Rose, since some visceral part of me simply blamed her for having what I wanted, and for having it so easily”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“poking around in this dump, as it would be”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“I dream about standing in the lunch line naked. It's always the lunch line in ninth grade.
Nakedness dreams are very common.
I suppose they are.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“It is hard to know whether an air of self-confidence precedes or follows success.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


“We watched the swimmers and sunbathers and I thought about this. Had I faced all the facts? It seemed like I had, but actually, you never know, just by remembering, how many facts you were allowed to have faced. Your own endurance might be a pleasant fiction allowed you by others who've really faced the facts. The eerie feeling this thought gave me made me shiver in the hot wind.”
― Jane Smiley, quote from A Thousand Acres


About the author

Jane Smiley
Born place: in Los Angeles, California, The United States
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