29+ quotes from Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Quotes from Crossing to Safety

Wallace Stegner ·  335 pages

Rating: (30.5K votes)


“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“He used to tell me, 'Do what you like to do. It'll probably turn out to be what you do best.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“[Friendship] is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by neither law nor property nor blood, there is no glue in it but mutual liking. It is therefore rare.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Is that the basis of friendship? Is it as reactive as that? Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting?... Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me?”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Youth hasn't got anything to do with chronological age. It's times of hope and happiness.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Our last impression of her as she turned the corner was that smile, flung backward like a handful of flowers.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting?”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“It is love and friendship, the sanctity and celebration of our relationships, that not only support a good life, but create one. Through friendships, we spark and inspire one another's ambitions.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“In a way, it is beautiful to be young and hard up. With the right wife, and I had her, deprivation became a game.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these? Where are the things that novelists seize upon and readers expect? Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish? Where are the suburban infidelities, the promiscuities, the convulsive divorces, the alcohol, the drugs, the lost weekends? Where are the hatreds, the political ambitions, the lust for power? Where are speed, noise, ugliness, everything that makes us who we are and makes us recognize ourselves in fiction?”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Ambition is a path, not a destination, and it is essentially the same path for everybody. No matter what the goal is, the path leads through Pilgrim’s Progress regions of motivation, hard work, persistence, stubbornness, and resilience under disappointment. Unconsidered, merely indulged, ambition becomes a vice; it can turn an man into a machine that knows nothing but how to run. Considered, it can be something else — pathway to the stars, maybe. I suspect that what makes hedonists so angry when they think about overachievers is that the overachievers, without benefit of drugs or orgies, have more fun.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Pleasant things to hear, though hearing them from him embarrasses me. I soak up the praise but feel obliged to disparage the gift. I believe that most people have some degree of talent for something--forms, colors, words, sounds. Talent lies around in us like kindling waiting for a match, but some people, just as gifted as others, are less lucky. Fate never drops a match on them. The times are wrong, or their health is poor, or their energy low, or their obligations too many. Something.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“What ever happened to the passion we all had to improve ourselves, live up to our potential, leave a mark on the world? Our hottest arguments were always about how we could contribute. We did not care about the rewards. We were young and earnest.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Nothing is so safe as habit, even when habit is faked.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“This early piece of the morning is mine.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“We made plenty of mistakes, but we never tripped anybody to gain an advantage, or took illegal shortcuts when no judge was around. We have all jogged and panted it out the whole way.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Though I have been busy, perhaps overbusy, all my life, it seems to me now that I have accomplished little that matters, that the books have never come up to what was in my head, and that the rewards—the comfortable income, the public notice, the literary prizes, and the honorary degrees—have been tinsel, not what a grown man should be content with.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic. When you stand outside a door and push the button, something has to happen. Someone must respond; whatever is inside must be revealed. Questions will be answered, uncertainties or mysteries dispelled. A situation will be started on its way through unknown complications to an unpredictable conclusion. The answer to your summons may be to a rush of tearful welcome, a suspicious eye at the crack of the door, a shot through the hardwood, anything. Any pushing of any doorbell button is as rich in dramatic possibility as that scene in Chekhov when, just as the Zemstvo doctor's only child dies if diphtheria and the doctor's wife drops to her knees beside the bed and the doctor, smelling of carbolic, takes an uncertain step backward, the bell sounds sharply in the hall. ”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Sally has a smile I would accept as my last view on earth...”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Well, there's so much to read, and I'm so far behind.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“I hope they have found enough pleasure along the way so that they don't want it ended”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Are writers reporters, prophets, crazies, entertainers, preachers, judges, what?”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“The clear lesson of New England’s history is that when there are not enough suitable men around to run the world, women are perfectly capable of doing so.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Survival, it is called. Often it is accidental, sometimes it is engineered by creatures or forces that we have no conception of, always it is temporary.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“If you could forget mortality... You could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Henry James says somewhere that if you have to make notes on how a thing has struck you, it probably hasn’t struck you.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


“Children from a big family have the benefit of a certain amount of neglect.”
― Wallace Stegner, quote from Crossing to Safety


About the author

Wallace Stegner
Born place: in Lake Mills, Iowa, The United States
Born date February 18, 1909
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