George Saunders · 179 pages
Rating: (14.3K votes)
“I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy. I believe he takes more pleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us. He gives us a need for love, and no way to get any. He gives us a desire to be liked, and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable. Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications, he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self-esteem and our mental health.”
“What I'm primarily saying,' he says, 'is that this is a time for knowledge assimilation, not backstabbing. We learned a lesson, you and I. We personally grew. Gratitude for this growth is an appropriate response. Gratitude, and being careful never to make the same mistake twice.”
“I'm not a bad guy. If only I could stop hoping. If only I could say to my heart: Give up. Be alone forever. There's always opera. There's angel-food cake and neighborhood children caroling, and the look of autumn leaves on a wet roof. But no. My heart's some kind of idiotic fishing bobber.”
“She's sweet but too apocalyptic. You try kissing someone good-night who's just told you for the umpteenth time that the world's experiencing its last disgusting paroxysm before Rapture.”
“Sweet Evelyn, I think, I should have loved you better.
Possessing perfect knowledge I hover above him as he hacks me to bits. I see his rough childhood. I see his mother doing something horrid to him with a broomstick. I see the hate in his heart and the people he had yet to kill before pneumonia gets him at eighty-three. I see the dead kid's mom unable to sleep, pounding her fists against her face in grief at the moment I was burying her son's hand. I see the pain I've caused. I see the man I could have been, and the man I was, and then everything is bright and new and keen with love and I sweep through Sam's body, trying to change him, trying so hard, and feeling only hate and hate, solid as stone.”
“I wander cowboy sidewalks of wood, wearing a too-small hat, filled with remorse for the many lives I failed to lead.”
“Don't think of yourself as a surrogate mule, think of yourself as an entrepreneur of the physical.”
“Mr. A calls me into his office and says he's got bad news and bad news, and which do I want first. I say the bad news.”
“The work that stirs the greatest passion is also the work that creates around it the greatest silence, the strongest imperative to stand back and admire and let others admire, without interfering.”
“In spite of the strife the stars were bright as crystal.”
“That's what a book is: a failed attempt that, its failure notwithstanding, is sincere and hard-worked and expunged of as much falseness as he could manage, given his limited abilities, and has thus been imbued with a sort of purity.”
“...and finally, having lost what was to be lost, my torn and black heart rebels saying enough already, enough, this is as low as I go”
“I’m bleeding at the knees and choking from smoke and have no idea who these people are or where I’m going, but at least I’m off the hook in terms of the hand jobs.”
“What a degraded cosmos. What a case of something starting out nice and going bad.”
“I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy. I believe he takes more pleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us. He gives us a need for love, and no way to get any. He gives us a desire to be liked, and personal attributes that make us utterly un-likable. Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications, he deducts the difference between”
“I would have done anything to stop the hitting. Anything. So much for human dignity, I think, a few whacks in the ribs and you’re calling a fat guy God and eating soil at his request.”
“He sent the trained dog that is his talent off in search of a fat glorious pheasant, and it brought back the lower half of a Barbie doll.”
“I noticed something: if I put a theme park in a story, my prose improved.”
“I say it must have been great to grow up when men were men. He says men have always been what the are now, namely incapable of coping with life without the intervention of God the Almighty. Then in the oven behind him my pizza starts smoking and he says case in point.”
“Saunders writes like something of a saint. He seems in touch with some better being. He teaches us not only how to write but how to live. He sets the bar and also the example. He hopes we might see the possibility of our better selves and act on it. He seems sent—what other way to put it?—to teach us mercy and grace.”
“All night I have bad dreams about severed hands. In one I’m eating chili and a hand comes out of my bowl and gives me the thumbs-down. I”
“Even the nuns went racist after the convent was reappraised and it seemed their pension fund was in jeopardy.”
“What do my colleagues know of Dad? What do they know of me? What kind of friend gets a kick out of posting in the break room a drawing of you eating an entire computer? What kind of friend jokes that someday you'll be buried in a specially built container after succumbing to heart strain?
I'm sorry but I feel that life should offer more than this.”
“Once again I am only who I am.”
“think of how lovely it all could have been had anything gone right, and then I think: Oh heavens, why prolong it, I’ve no income now.”
“He seems to have a passable knowledge of how to pretend to churn butter.”
“Sometimes I sense a deep anger welling up, and have to choke it back.”
“By then I was selling the hell out of Buicks at night. So I got a little place of my own and moved her in with me. Now we’re pals. Family. It’s not perfect. Sometimes it’s damn hard. But I look after her and she squeals with delight when I come home, and the sum total of sadness in the world is less than it would have been.
Her real name is Isabelle.
A pretty, pretty name.”
“she clutched her purse and was completely composed, gracefully accepting people’s sympathies, but when they started to shovel the dirt over old dick’s coffin she began to weep, and her grief was strong enough to chase the sparrows from the trees.”
“For quite some time now, like the foetus inside a womb, a terrible knowledge had been ripening within me and filling my soul with frightened foreboding: that the Infinite Universe is inflating at incredible speed, like some ridiculous soap bubble. I become obsessed with a miser's piercing anxiety whenever I allow myself to think that the Universe may be slipping out into space, like water through cupped hands, and that, ultimately—perhaps even today, perhaps not till tomorrow or for several light years—it will dissolve for ever into emptiness, as though it were made not of solid matter but only of fleeting sound.”
“Hello," Lilly said."Movie. Of your life.You were portrayed as shy and awkward."
"I am shy and awkward," I reminded her.
"They made your grandmother all kindly and sympathetic to your plight," Lilly said."It was the grossest mischaracterization I've seen since Shakespeare in Love tried to pass off the Bard as a hottie with a six-pack and a full set of teeth.”
“The Koran offers us two choices, revenge and forgiveness,” he said. “But the Koran says that forgiveness is better, so we will forgive. We understand that it was a mistake, so we will forgive. The Americans are building schools and roads, and because of this, we will forgive.”
“Promise you'll stay with me as long as you want to, but not a moment longer.”
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