“The foundation of your life is luck. Hard work and talent make up the difference.”
“What you put out into the world will always come back for you.”
“People don't fix each other, Joseph. And they never become anything but what they've always been.”
“He'd told his son recently that life was luck. But life, he'd come to realize as he aged, was also memory. The recollection of moments often proved richer than the moment themselves.”
“What's your name?"
"Emma Gould," she said. "What's yours?"
"By all the girls or just the law?”
“We live by night and dance fast so grass can't grow under our feet. That's our creed.”
“When a woman once asked Joe how he could come from such a magnificent home and such a good family and still become a gangster, Joe's answer was two-pronged: (a) he wasn't a gangster, he was an outlaw; (b) he came from a magnificent house not a magnificent home.”
“You didn't die and go to a better place; this was the better place because you weren't dead. Heaven wasn't in the clouds; it was the air in your lungs.”
“Joe closed his hand over the watch and it was still warm from his father's pocket, ticking against his palm like a heart.”
“Confidence you haven't earned always has the brightest glow.”
“The truth of himself was a lonely boy in an empty house, waiting for someone to knock on his bedroom door and ask if he was okay.”
“Plans are just dreams until they're executed.”
“My father's gone," Joe said eventually. "Emma's dead. Your brother's dead. My brothers scattered. Shit, D, you're one of the only people I know anymore. I lose you, who the fuck am I?”
“Things weren’t ever what they were supposed to be; they were what they were, and that was the simple truth of it, a truth that didn’t change just because you wanted it to.”
“But I say their rules are bullshit. I say there are no rules but the ones a man makes for himself.”
“It occurred to him that thinking like this could explain why, even after all the jobs he'd pulled, he rarely had much money in his pockets. Sometimes it seemed like he stole money from one place just to give it away somewhere else.”
“Achievement? Depends on luck—to be born in the right place at the right time and be of the right color. To live long enough to be in the right place at the right time to make one’s fortune. Yes, yes, hard work and talent make up the difference. They are crucial, and you know I’d never argue different. But the foundation of all lives is luck. Good or bad. Luck is life and life is luck. And it’s leaking from the moment it lands in your hand.”
“I don’t believe he casts people into eternal flame for fornication, as you pointed out. Or for believing in a version of him that is a little off the mark. I believe—or, I want to believe—he considers the worst sins to be those we commit in his name.”
“Growing up, Joe had adored his brother, Then he'd come to hate him. Now, he mostly didn't think about him. When he did, he had to admit, he missed his laugh.”
“We’re not our brother’s keeper, Joseph. In fact, it’s an insult to our brother to presume he can’t take care of himself.”
“Another thing Tim was fond of saying was when a house falls down, the first termite to bite into it is just as much to blame as the last. Joe didn't get that one--the first termite would be long fucking dead by the time the last termite got his teeth into the wood. Wouldn't he? Every time Tim made the analogy, Joe resolved to look into termite life expectancy, but then he'd forget to do it until the next time Tim brought it up, usually when he was drunk and there was a lull in the conversation, and everyone at the table would get the same look on their faces: What is it with Tim and the fucking termites already?”
“How naive can you be before it becomes unforgivable?”
“What’s it about?” Danny seemed authentically curious.
“The night. It’s got its own set of rules.”
“Day’s got rules too.”
“Oh, I know,” Joe said, “but I don’t like them.” They stared through the mesh at each other for a long time.
“I don’t understand,” Danny said softly.
“I know you don’t,” Joe said. “You, you buy into all this stuff about good guys and bad guys in the world. A loan shark breaks a guy’s leg for not paying his debt, a banker throws a guy out of his home for the same reason, and you think there’s a difference, like the banker’s just doing his job but the loan shark’s a criminal. I like the loan shark because he doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and I think the banker should be sitting where I’m sitting right now. I’m not going to live some life where I pay my fucking taxes and fetch the boss a lemonade at the company picnic and buy life insurance. Get older, get fatter, so I can join a men’s club in Back Bay, smoke cigars with a bunch of assholes in a back room somewhere, talk about my squash game and my kid’s grades. Die at my desk, and they’ll already have scraped my name off the office door before the dirt’s hit the coffin.”
“But that’s life,” Danny said.
“That’s a life. You want to play by their rules? Go ahead. But I say their rules are bullshit. I say there are no rules but the ones a man makes for himself.”
“People were lost and people were scared and their lynch ropes couldn't reach bankers or stockbrokers, so they looked for targets closer to home.”
“We all know who you are, Mr. Coughlin. Famous Yankee gangster. Friend of the colonel. It would be safer for a man to swim into the middle of the ocean and cut his own throat than to threaten you.' He solemnly made the sign of the cross. 'But when people starve and have nowhere to go, where would you have them end up?'
'Not on my land,' Joe said.
'But it is not your land. It's God's. You are renting it. This rum? This life?' He patted his chest. 'We are all just renting from God.”
“You see the worst in the best of people,” she said, shaking her head, “and the best in the worst of people.”
“moaned his final breath into the imitation Oriental.”
“His father was gone. He was no longer a son. He was a man without history or expectation. A blank slate, beholden to none. He felt like a pilgrim who’d pushed off from the shore of a homeland he’d never see again, crossed a black sea under a black sky, and landed in the new world, which waited, unformed, as if it had always been waiting. For him. To give the country a name, to remake it in his image so it could espouse his values and export them across the globe.”
“When she found his eyes, hers were fuller and sharper, lit with something that had entered the world centuries before civilized things. “I get off at midnight,” she said.”
“Альберт, я бы тебя убил, если бы хоть немного умел убивать.”
“There once was a hero who flew too close to the sun. His wings of wax fell apart and he plummeted to the earth.”
“Look at me, man, look at me and tell me I don't know what I'm about. I'm Conor Larkin. I'm an Irishman and I've had enough.”
“Please be thinking about me. I'm quite lonely and I want to be thought about”
“The typical conservative Roman was far too practical for that. If you didn’t know by age five that the gods were made-up creatures and the myths invented stories, then you were a fool.”
“Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it.”
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