Quotes from Birds of America

Lorrie Moore ·  291 pages

Rating: (12.2K votes)


“When she packed up to leave, she knew that she was saying goodbye to something important, which was not that bad, in a way, because it meant that at least you had said hello to it to begin with...”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“Every arrangement in life carried with it the sadness, the sentimental shadow, of its not being something else, but only itself. ”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“No matter what terror the earth could produce - winds, seas - a person could produce the same, lived with the same, lived with all that mixed-up nature swirling inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world - no flower or stone - as a single hello from a human being.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“There were moments bristling with deadness, when she looked out at her life and went, "What?" Or worse, feeling interrupted and tired, "Wha—?”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“Her life had taken on the shape of a terrible mistake. She hadn't been given the proper tools to make a real life with, she decided, that was it. She'd been given a can of gravy and a hair-brush and told, "There you go." She'd stood there for years, blinking and befuddled, brushing the can with the brush.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America



“How can it be described? How can any of it be described? The trip and the story of the trip are two different things. The narrator is the one who has stayed home, but then, afterward, presses her mouth upon the traveler’s mouth, in order to make the mouth work, to make the mouth say, say, say. One cannot go to a place and speak of it; one cannot both see and say, not really. One can go, and upon returning make a lot of hand motions and indications with the arms. The mouth itself, working at the speed of light, at the eye’s instructions, is necessarily struck still; so fast, so much to report, it hangs open and dumb as a gutted bell. All that unsayable life! That’s where the narrator comes in. The narrator comes with her kisses and mimicry and tidying up. The narrator comes and makes a slow, fake song of the mouth’s eager devastation.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“This lunge at moral fastidiousness was something she'd noticed a lot in people around here. They were not good people. They were not kind. But they recycled their newspapers!”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“(Such a life)engaged gross quantities of hope and despair and set them wildly side by side, like a Third World country of the heart. ”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it's the body's reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it's the heart's triumph, the victory speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It's life flipping death the bird. I make this stuff up.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“And it was then that she first felt all the dark love and shame that came from the pure accident of home, the deep and arbitrary place that happened to be yours.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America



“Marriage, she felt, was a fine arrangement generally, except that one never got it generally. One got it very, very specifically.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“What makes humans human is precisely that they do not know the future. That is why they do the fateful and amusing things they do: who can say how anything will turn out? Therein lies the only hope for redemption, discovery, and-let’s be frank—fun, fun, fun! There might be things people will get away with. And not just motel towels. There might be great illicit loves, enduring joy, faith-shaking accidents with farm machinery. But you have to not know in order to see what stories your life’s efforts bring you. The mystery is all.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“It was true. Men could be with whomever they pleased. But women had to date better, kinder, richer, and bright, bright, bright, or else people got embarrassed.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“On-yez, where are you from, dear?' asked a black-slacked, frosted-haired woman whose skin was papery and melanomic with suntan. 'Originally.' She eyed Agnes's outfit as if it might be what in fact it was: a couple of blue things purchased in a department store in Cedar Rapids.

Where am I from?' Agnes said it softly. 'Iowa.' She had a tendency not to speak up.

Where?' the woman scowled, bewildered.

Iowa,' Agnes repeated loudly.

The woman in black touched Agnes's wrist and leaned in confidentially. She moved her mouth in a concerned and exaggerated way, like an exercise. 'No, dear,' she said. 'Here we say O-hi-o.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“She had, without realizing it at the time, learned to follow Nick's gaze, learned to learn his lust...his desires remained memorized within her. She looked at the attractive women he would look at...She had become him: she longed for these women. But she was also herself, and so she despised them. She lusted after them, but she also wanted to beat them up. A rapist. She had become a rapist, driving to work in a car.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America



“Get a Job, she shouted silently to God. Get a real Job.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“But this is the kind of thing that fiction is: it's the unlivable life, the strange room tacked onto the house, the extra moon that is circling the earth unbeknownst to science.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“She had expected a pistol to seem light and natural-a seamless extension of her angry feral self.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“She had already—carefully, obediently—stepped through all the stages of bereavement: anger, denial, bargaining, Häagen-Dazs, rage.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“...it all remained unreadable for him, though reading, he felt, was not a natural thing and should not be done to people. In general, people were not road maps. People were not hieroglyphs or books. They were not stories. A person was a collection of accidents. A person was an infinite pile of rocks with things growing underneath.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America



“She would try to live life one day at a time, like an alcoholic--drink, don't drink, drink. Perhaps she should take drugs.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“We are lucky simply to be alive together; why get differentiating and judgemental about who is here among us? Thank God there is anyone at all.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“I am thinking of the dancing body's magnificent and ostentatious scorn. This is how we offer ourselves, enter heaven, enter speaking: we say with motion, in space, This is what life's done so far down here; this is all and what and everything it's managed - this body, these bodies, that body - so what do you think, Heaven? What do you fucking think?”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“The key to marriage, she concluded, was just not to take the thing too personally.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“Like true friends, they take no hardy or elegant stance loosely choreographed from some broad perspective. They get right in there and mutter "Jesus Christ!" and shake their heads.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America



“The functional disenchantment, the sweet habit of each other, had begun to put lines around her mouth, lines that looked like quotation marks--as if everything she said had already been said before...[the cat] was accustomed to much nestling and appreciation and drips from the faucet, though sometimes she would vanish outside, and they would not see her for days, only to spy her later, in the yard, dirty and matted, chomping a vole or eating old snow.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“Are you anywhere near Champaign-Urbana?"

"No."

"I went there once. I thought from its name that it would be a different kind of place. I kept saying to myself, 'Champagne, urbah na, champagne, urbah na! Champagne! Urbana'" He sighed. "It was just this thing in the middle of a field.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


“Her voice was husky, vibrating, slightly flat, coming in just under each note like a saucer under a cup.”
― Lorrie Moore, quote from Birds of America


About the author

Lorrie Moore
Born place: in Glens Falls, New York, The United States
Born date January 13, 1957
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