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30+ quotes from American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Quotes from American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld ·  555 pages

Rating: (43.8K votes)


“We have to make mistakes, it's how we learn compassion for others.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“To remain alone did not seem to me a terrible fate, no worse than being falsely joined to another person.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“She was the reason I was a reader, and being a reader was what had made me most myself; it had given me the gifts of curiosity and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant contradictory place, and it had me unafraid of its oddness and vibrancy and contradictions.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“To think of the Midwest as a whole as anything other than beautiful is to ignore the extraordinary power of the land. The lushness of the grass and trees in August, the roll of the hills (far less of the Midwest is flat than outsiders seem to imagine), the rich smell of soil, the evening sunlight over a field of wheat, or the crickets chirping at dusk on a residential street: All of it, it has always made me feel at peace. There is room to breathe, there is a realness of place. The seasons are extreme, but they pass and return, pass and return, and the world seems far steadier than it does from the vantage point of a coastal city.

Certainly picturesque towns can be found in New England or California or the Pacific Northwest, but I can't shake the sense that they're too picturesque. On the East Coast, especially, these places seem to me aggressively quaint, unbecomingly smug, and even xenophobic, downright paranoid in their wariness of those who might somehow infringe upon the local charm. I suspect this wariness is tied to the high cost of real estate, the fear that there might not be enough space or money and what there is of both must be clung to and defended. The West Coast, I think, has a similar self-regard...and a beauty that I can't help seeing as show-offy. But the Midwest: It is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on. It is the place I am calmest and most myself.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I did not care if Ella went to Princeton, if she was exceptionally pretty, if she grew up to marry a rich man, or really if she married at all - there were many incarnations of her I felt confident I could embrace, a hippie or a housewife or a career woman. But what I did care about, what I wanted most fervently, was for her to understand that hard work paid off, that decency begat decency, that humility was not a raincoat you occasionally pulled on when you thought conditions called for it, but rather a constant way of existing in the world, knowing that good luck and bad luck touched everyone and none of us was fully responsible for our fortunes or tragedies. Above all, I wanted my daughter to understand that many people were guided by bitterness and that it was best to avoid these individuals - their moods and behavior were a hornet's nest you had no possible reason to do anything other than bypass and ignore.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“What greater happiness is there than the privilege of being bored together?”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Foolish names and foolish faces often appear in public places.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“When you are a high school girl, there is nothing more miraculous than a high school boy.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I noticed then that the red-haired woman was buying the food you eat when you live alone: a box of cereal, a few apples, a plastic container of plain yogurt....With an abrupt clarity, I saw how I had been launched into another category. I had been the red-haired woman; for a decade of my adult life, I had bought cereal and yogurt, I'd stood near couples and watched them nuzzle, and now I was part of such a couple. And I would not be launched back, I was certain. But I recognized her life, I knew it so well! I wanted to clasp her freckled hand, to say to her--surely we understood some shared code (or surely not, surely she'd have thought me preposterous)--It's good on the other side, but it's good on your side too. Enjoy it there. The loneliness is harder and the loneliness is the biggest part; but some things are easier.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I had the fleeting thought then that we are each of us pathetic in one way or another, and the trick is to marry a person whose patheticness you can tolerate.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“...if it's great reverence you're looking for, or earnest expressions of gratitude - well, then you don't work with kids.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Perhaps fiction has, for me, served a similar purpose--what is a narrative arc if not the imposition of order on disparate events?--and perhaps it is my avid reading that has been my faith all along.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“And it wasn't that you couldn't be friends with a married woman, but you weren't friends in the same way, she didn't have the same freedom i her schedule, especially not after she had children, and even before that, she didn't need you; you needed friendship, and friendship to her was auxiliary, extra.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“To be a person who sees a political ad on television and takes the statements in it as fact, how can you exist in this world? How is it you're not robbed daily by charlatans who knock at your door?”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I'm not a Democrat because I haven't thought about the issues. I'm a Democrat because I have.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Was this what marriage was, the slow process of getting to know another individual far better than was advisable? Sometimes [his] gestures and inflections were so mercilessly familiar that it was as if he were an extension of me, an element of my own personality over which I had little control.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“My heart clutched - it was one of those moments when you feel time is a rug that's been yanked out from under you; everything around you has changed so gradually that it is only all at one you look up and realize how different your life has become.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Well--" My mother paused, and her tone was reflective in that way that is inevitably sad, because the past is sad. "What I remember," she said, "is that you were always such a dear little girl.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“There was a way in which my grandmother's true self was not these guests' business; no one's true self was the business of more than a very small number of family members or close friends.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I decided we should get married no more of this running-through-the-rain shit. We should live in the same place, sleep in the same bed at night, wake up together in the morning, and whenever there's a tornado, I can take care of you and watch Baseball at the same time.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“But I should note, for all my resistance to organized religion, that I don't believe Charlie could have quit drinking without it. It provided him with a way to structure his behavior, and a way to explain that behavior, both past and present, to himself. Perhaps fiction has, for me, served a similar purpose--what is a narrative arc if not the imposition of order on disparate events? -- and perhaps it is my avid reading that has been my faith all along.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Since I was a small girl, I have lived inside this cottage, shelted by its roof and walls. I have known of people suffering—I have not been blind to them in the way that privilege allows, the way my own husband and now my daughter are blind. It is a statement of fact and not a judgement to say Charlie and Ella’s minds aren’t oriented in that direction; in a way, it absolves them, whereas the unlucky have knocked on the door of my consciousness, they have emerged from the forest and knocked many times over the course of my life, and I have only occasionally allowed them entry. I’ve done more than nothing and much less than I could have. I have laid inside, beneath a quilt on a comfortable couch, in a kind of reverie, and when I heard the unlucky outside my cottage, sometimes I passed them coins or scraps of food, and sometimes I ignored them altogether; if I ignored them, they had no choice but to walk back into the woods, and when they grew weak or got lost or were circled by wolves, I pretended I couldn’t hear them calling my name.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I have been granted the terrible privilege of deciding what would have happened with no one left to contradict me. And maybe I am absolutely wrong.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“It would in retrospect appear to be a stop on a narrative path that was inevitable, but this is only because most events, most paths, feel inevitable in retrospect.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I think my mother found her mother-in-law entertaining, and in a person who entertains us, there is much we forgive.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I enjoyed making them, and if it's great reverence you're looking for, or earnest expressions of gratitude - well, then you don't work with kids.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“Only part you have to apologize for is getting me all horned up and then passing out, but I'll take a rain check”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“People are complicated," she continued, "and the ones who aren't are boring."

"Then maybe I'm boring."
We looked at each other, and in a genuinely sad voice, she said, "Maybe you are.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“See, I always forget this about you," he says, and even now, long after we first lost our privacy, I can't help wondering who's overhearing him. "Every decade, you like to pin me to the ground, pull open my mouth, and take a sh** right into it.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


“I've always found the thousand dollar dinners more unsettling than the twenty-five-thousand dollar ones --- if someone pays the Republican National Committee twenty-five thousand dollars (or, more likely, fifty per couple) to breathe the same air as Charlie for an hour or two, then it's clear the person has money to spare. What breaks my heart is when it's apparent through their accent or attire that a person isn't well off but has scrimped to attend an event with us. We're not worth it! I want to say. You should have paid off your credit-card bill, invested in your grandchild's college fund, taken a vacation to the Ozarks. Instead, in a few weeks, they receive in the mail a photo with one or both of us, signed by an autopen, which they can frame so that we might grin out into their living room for years to come.”
― Curtis Sittenfeld, quote from American Wife


About the author

Curtis Sittenfeld
Born place: in Cincinnati, The United States
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Popular quotes

“بالنسبة لهن البدانة دليل على التقدم الطبيعي في الحياة . كفتيات كن رشيقات ، ثم مع بداية العشرينات من أعمارهن صرن ممتلئات . ومن منتصف إلى أواخر العشرينات أصبحن مكتنزات . وفي الثلاثينات أمسين بدينات . ثم في الأربعينات بتن كالجبال .”
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