30+ quotes from Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Quotes from Empire Falls

Richard Russo ·  483 pages

Rating: (96.2K votes)


“And there comes a time in your life when you realize that if you don't take the opportunity to be happy, you may never get another chance again.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“What if all everybody needed in the world was to be sure of one friend? What if you were the one, and you refused to say those simple words?”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“After all, what was the whole wide world but a place for people to yearn for their heart's impossible desires, for those desires to become entrenched in defiance of logic, plausibility, and even the passage of time, as eternal as polished marble. ”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“Not giving a shit, she decided, is like the defrost option on a car's heater that miraculously unfogs the windshield, allowing you to see where you're headed.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“The other possibility was that there was no right thing to say, that the choice wasn't between right and wrong but between wrong, more wrong, and as wrong as you can get.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“My God, he couldn't help thinking, how terrible it is to be that age, to have emotions so near the surface that the slightest turbulence causes them to boil over. That, very simply, was what adulthood must be all about -- acquiring the skill to bury things more deeply. Out of sight and, whenever possible, out of mind.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“They stayed, many of them, because staying was easier and less scary than leaving,”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“To his surprise, she leaned over and kissed him on the forehead, a kiss so full of affection that it dispelled the awkwardness, even as it caused Miles' heart to plummet, because all kisses are calibrated, and this one revealed the great chasm between affection and love.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“It pleased him to imagine God as someone like his mother, someone beleagured by too many responsibilities, too dog-tired to monitor an energetic boy every minute of the day, but who, out of love and fear for his safety, checked in on him whenever she could. Was this so crazy? ...Miles liked the idea of a God who, when He at last had the oppotunity to return His attention to His children, might shake His head with wonder and mutter, "Jesus. Look what they're up to now." A distractible God, perhaps, one who'd be startled to discover so many of His children way up in trees since the last time He looked. A God whose hand would go rushing to His mouth in fear in that instant of recognition that - good God! - that kid's going to hurt himself. A God who could be surprised by unanticipated pride - glory be, that boy is a climber!”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“Just because things happen slow doesn't mean you'll be ready for them. If they happened fast, you'd be alert for all kinds of suddenness, aware that speed was trump. "Slow" works in an altogether different principle, on the deceptive impression that there's plenty of time to prepare, which conceals the central fact, that no matter how slow things go, you'll always be slower.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“The sad, fucking truth was that no matter who you are, you never, ever, get your fill.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“One of the odd things about middle age...was the strange decisions a man discovers he’s made by not really making them.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“...aware, as always, that the truth isn't much of substitute for a good answer.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“You can't possibly judge your ability to control something until you've experienced the extremes of its capabilities. Do you understand?”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“He’d meant to forgive his brother, maybe even imagined he had. He’d also meant to learn to trust him, but instead merely fell into the habit of waiting for him to fuck up again.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“To his surprise he...discovered that it was possible to be good at what you had little interest in, just as it had been possible to be bad at something…that you cared about a great deal.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“Bullshitting god would be Max's plan in a nutshell. Miles could even guess his father's opening gambit. He'd point out to God that if He expected better results, He ought to have given Max better character to work with, instead of sending him into battle so poorly equipped.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“The cutthroat savagery of high school romance inspired in nearly all adults a collective amnesia. Having survived it themselves, they locked those memories far away in some dark chamber of their subconscious where things that are too terrible to contemplate are permanently stored.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“But of course everything had conspired to spoil her entrance, which only went to prove what Janine already knew: that no matter how well you planned something, God always planned better. If He was feeling stingy that day and didn't want you to have some little thing you had your heart set on, then you weren't going to get it and that was all there was to it.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“Tick's strategy for dealing with lying adults is to say nothing and watch thee lies swell and constrict in their throats. when this happens, the lie takes on a physical life of its own and must be either expelled or swallowed. Most adults prefer to expel untruths with little burplike coughs behind their hands, while others chuckle or snort or make barking sounds. When Mr. Meyer's Adam's apple bobs once, Tick sees that he's a swallower, and that this particular lie has gone south down his esophagus and into his stomach. According to her father, the man suffers from bleeding ulcers. Tick can see why. She imagines all the lies a man in his position would have to tell, how they must just churn away down there in his intestines like chunks of indigestible food awaiting elimination. By the Tick suspects, lies seek open air. they don't like being confined in dark, cramped places.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“If you paid me for work," continued Max, whose rhetoric was more sophisticated than you might expect from a man with food in his beard, "I wouldn't have to feel worthless. There's not law says old people have to feel worthless all the while, you know. You paid me, I'd have some dignity."

Now it was Mile's turn to nod and smile agreeably. "I think the dignity ship set sail a long time ago, Dad.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“There have been times," Father Mark admitted, "when I feared that God would turn out to be like my maternal grandmother [...] Ours was a large family, and every Christmas my grandmother gave gifts of cash in varying amounts, claiming she was rewarding her grandchildren according to how much they loved her. She swore she could look right into our hearts and know. One child would get a crisp fifty-dollar bill, the next a crumpled single. No two gifts were ever in the same amount."
Miles nodded. "Well, maybe there's a hell.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“For Miles, one of the great mysteries of marriage was that you had to actually say things before you realized they were wrong. Because he'd been saying the wrong thing to Janine for so many years, he'd grown wary, testing most of his observations in the arena of his imagination before saying them out loud, but even then he was often wrong. Of course, the other possibility was that there was no right thing to say, that the choice wasn't between right and wrong but between wrong, more wrong, and as wrong as you can get. Wrong, all of it, to one degree or another, by definition, or by virtue of the fact that Miles himself was the one saying it.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“In this instance, she understood completely what the endorsement of a fool was worth.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“At the center of the bouquet is a monstrous peony, probably purchased on sale at the supermarket. By Tuesday its curling petals had begun to collect at the bottom of the vase, infusing the room with the faint but unmistakable sweet odor of corruption and imminent death. ... In Tick's opinion there was something extravagantly excessive about the peony from the start, as if God had intended so suggest with this particular bloom that you could have too much of a good thing. The swiftness with which the fallen petals bean to stink drove the point home in case anybody missed it. As a rule, Tick leans toward believing that there is no God, but she isn't so sure at times like this, when pockets of meaning emerge so clearly that they feel like divine communication.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“if making things seem prettier than they are is a lie, then making them seem uglier must be another.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“She never answers during the day," Max explained. "She lets her machine pick up."

People like you are the reason other people get answering machines to begin with," Miles told him. "In fact, people like you are driving a lot of modern technology.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“She gave him a smile in which hope and knowledge were going at it, bare-knuckled, equally and eternally matched.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“So what? Few men, Miles reflected, lived so comfortably within the confines of a two.word personal philosophy.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


“People actually seemed to enjoy recalling that on a Saturday afternoon forty years ago Empire Avenue was bustling with people and cars and commerce, whereas now, of course, you could strafe it with automatic weapons and not harm a soul.”
― Richard Russo, quote from Empire Falls


About the author

Richard Russo
Born place: in Johnstown, New York, The United States
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