Quotes from Boy's Life

Robert R. McCammon ·  580 pages

Rating: (20K votes)


“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“After years of having a dog, you know him. You know the meaning of his snuffs and grunts and barks. Every twitch of the ears is a question or statement, every wag of the tail is an exclamation.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It's not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don't know its happening until one day you feel you've lost something but you're not sure what it is. It's like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you 'sir'. It just happens.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who's got magic in them after they're no longer a child.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life



“If you were my girlfriend I would give you a hundred lightning bugs in a green glass jar, so you could always see your way. I would give you a meadow full of wildflowers, where no two blooms would ever be alike. I would give you my bicycle, with its golden eye to protect you. I would write a story for you, and make you a princess who lived in a white marble castle. If you would only like me, I would give you magic. If you would only like me.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“No one ever grows up. They may look grown-up, but it's just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts." Mrs. Neville”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“I had always wondered what Reverend Lovoy meant when he talked about "grace." I understood it now. It was being able to give up something that it broke your heart to lose, and be happy about it.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“I understood then what courage is all about. It is loving someone else more than you love yourself.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life



“I couldn't picture heaven. How could a place be any good at all if it didn't have the things there you enjoyed doing? If there were no comic books, no monster movies, no bikes, and no country roads to ride them on? No swimming pools, no ice cream, no summer, or barbecue on the Fourth of July? No thunderstorms, and front porches on which to sit and watch them coming? Heaven sounded to me like a library that only held books about one certain subject, yet you had to spend eternity and eternity and eternity reading them. What was heaven without typewriter paper and a magic box?”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“I'd like to be everybody in the world' I said. 'I'd like to live a million times.'
'Well'--and here my father gave one of his sagely nods--'that would be a fine piece of magic, wouldn't it?”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Here is my room, in the yellow lamplight and the space heater rumbling: Indian rug red as Cochise's blood, a desk with seven mystic drawers, a chair covered in material as velvety blue-black as Batman's cape, an aquarium holding tiny fish so pale you could see their hearts beat, the aforementioned dresser covered with decals from Revell model airplane kits, a bed with a quilt sewn by a relative of Jefferson Davis's, a closet, and the shelves, oh, yes, the shelves. The troves of treasure. On those shelves are stacks of me: hundreds of comic books- Justice League, Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, the Spirit, Blackhawk, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, Aquaman, and the Fantastic Four... The shelves go on for miles and miles. My collection of marbles gleams in a mason jar. My dried cicada waits to sing again in the summer. My Duncan yo-yo that whistles except the string is broken and Dad's got to fix it.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“When you look at something, don’t just look. See it. Really, really see it. See it so when you write it down, somebody else can see it, too.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“It seemed to me at an early age that all human communication — whether it’s TV, movies, or books — begins with somebody wanting to tell a story. That need to tell, to plug into a universal socket, is probably one of our grandest desires. And the need to hear stories, to live lives other than our own for even the briefest moment, is the key to the magic that was born in our bones. The”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life



“My father could throw up a fistful of dice to make a decision, but my mother had an agony for every hour. I guess they balanced, as two people who love each other should.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“There is something about nature out of control that touches a primal terror. We are used to believing that we’re the masters of our domain, and that God has given us this earth to rule over. We need this illusion like a good night-light. The truth is more fearsome: we are as frail as young trees in tornadoes, and our beloved homes are one flood away from driftwood. We plant our roots in trembling earth, we live where mountains rose and fell and prehistoric seas burned away in mist. We and the towns we have built are not permanent; the earth itself is a passing train. When you stand in muddy water that is rising toward your waist and you hear people shouting against the darkness and see their figures struggling to hold back the currents that will not be denied, you realize the truth of it: we will not win, but we cannot give up.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“They may look grown-up,” she continued, “but it’s a disguise. It’s just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts. They still would like to jump and play, but that heavy clay won’t let them. They’d like to shake off every chain the world’s put on them, take off their watches and neckties and Sunday shoes and return naked to the swimming hole, if just for one day. They’d like to feel free, and know that there’s a momma and daddy at home who’ll take care of things and love them no matter what. Even behind the face of the meanest man in the world is a scared little boy trying to wedge himself into a corner where he can’t be hurt.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Death cannot be known. It cannot be befriended. If Death were a boy, he would be a lonely figure, standing at the playground’s edge while the air rippled with other children’s laughter. If Death were a boy, he would walk alone. He would speak in a whisper and his eyes would be haunted by knowledge no human can bear.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“I realized all prisons were not buildings of gray rock bordered by guard towers and barbed wire. Some prisons were houses whose closed blinds let no sunlight enter. Some prisons were cages of fragile bones, and some prisons had bars of red polka dots. In fact, you could never tell what might be a prison until you’d had a glimpse of what was seized and bound inside.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life



“But life is just as much pain and mess as it is joy and order. Probably a lot more mess than order, too.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Friends. They really know how to knock you off your pedestal, don’t they?”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“It was a feeling in the crisp twilight air; it was a hush across the hills. The ghosts were gathering themselves, building up their strength to wander the fields of October and speak to those who would listen.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Seems to me a writer gets to hold a lot of keys,” she said. “Gets to visit a lot of worlds and live in a lot of skins. Seems to me a writer has a chance to live forever, if he’s good and if he’s lucky.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“In later years I would think that no woman’s lips had ever been as red as that bike. No low-slung foreign sports car with wire wheels and purring engine would ever look as powerful or as capable as that bike. No chrome would ever gleam with such purity, like the silver moon on a summer’s night.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life



“It’s not right,” he said, “to hate somethin’ just for bein’ alive.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“It’s 1991. Can you believe it? We’re poised on the edge of a new century, for better or worse. I guess we’ll all make up our own minds which. The year 1964 seems like ancient history now. The Polaroids taken in that year have turned yellow. No one wears their hair like that anymore, and the clothes have changed. People have changed, too, I think. Not just in the South, but everywhere. For better or worse? You can decide for yourself. And what we and the world have been through since 1964! Think of it! It’s been a faster, more brain-busting ride than ever could be devised by the Brandywine Carnival. We’ve lived through Vietnam — if we’ve been fortunate — and the era of Flower Power, Watergate and the fall of Nixon, the Ayatollah, Ronnie and Nancy, the cracking of the Wall and the beginning of the end of Communist Russia. We truly are living in the time of whirlwinds and comets. And like rivers that flow to the sea, time must flow into the future. It boggles the mind to think what might be ahead. But, as the Lady once said, you can’t know where you’re going until you figure out where you’ve been. Sometimes I think we have a lot of figuring out to do.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Hold on to being a boy as long as you can, because once you lose that magic, you’re always begging to find it again.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who’s got magic in them after they’re no longer a child.”
― Robert R. McCammon, quote from Boy's Life


About the author

Robert R. McCammon
Born place: in Birmingham, Alabama, The United States
Born date July 17, 1952
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