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30+ quotes from Provinces of Night by William Gay

Quotes from Provinces of Night

William Gay ·  292 pages

Rating: (1.7K votes)


“He wanted her the rest of his life, and failing that, he wanted permission to walk along beside her while she lived it.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“don't start talkin about books or quotin poems at them. these is good folks but they ain't real crazy about readin books. just do what i do and you'll be all right.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Her quickened breath was the very affirmation of life.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Seems like it's peaceful, just bein' in a country that lays the way you remember it layin”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“There was something oddly restful about the fireflies. He couldn't put his finger on it but he drew comfort from it anyway. The way they'd seemed not separate entities but a single being, a moving river of light that flowed above the dark water like its negative image and attained a transient and fragile dominion over the provinces of night.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Life blindsides you so hard you can taste the bright copper blood in your mouth then it beguiles you with a gift of profound and appalling beauty.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He lay on the bed and he felt he might never rise from it. He lay in an enormous torpor. The world was too heavy to bear and it was settling itself onto his chest. He felt old, old. Civilizations had risen and fallen in the brief time that he had lived. He felt that when the old man's head exploded across the snow he should have turned the gun on himself.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Folks called this place haunted, felt the emanations of an unspeakable act moving outward like ripples on water.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“No move is the wrong move,
What?
Sometimes any move at all is better than nothin. If you're right, you're one up. If you're wrong you start over. This sittin and waiting for somebody else to make up their mind is for the God-damned birds. You have to take control of your own life.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He was wishing the past was a place you could backtrack to, take a sideroad you'd walked hurriedly past, wake somebody from a bad dream he was having.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He began to suspect another, deeper layer of time, a time of stone and cloud and tree to which the time of clocks and calendars was a gross mockery cobbled up by savages. He felt the ways of men fall from him like sundered shackles.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“You don't learn that, she said. It's just there. It sounds like he spent his whole life trying to unlearn it. Trying to forget it.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He heard footsteps on the ice and just as someone pounded on the door death came swiftly into the trailer like a physical presence. It came swiftly up the steps and turned the knob and so through the door, crossing the linoleum with a sure firm footstep toward where the old man sat on the bed with the pistol in his hand.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“a moving river of light that flowed above the dark water like its negative image and attained a transient and fragile dominion over the provinces of night. BOOK THREE”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Listen, he said vehemently. Somebody's going to have to say what they really mean and then do what they say they will. All this lying. All this bullshit and pretending. It's just wasting lives, wasting time, everything's just a waste.
She was looking at him curiously. That's just the way people are. The way the world is. What are you trying to do, fix the world?
I don't want to fix the world. Fuck the world. Just the little part of it that I have to live on. You and that old man. Folks starting babies andd walking off like that's got nothing to do with them. People walking off while you're asleep and never coming back. Leaving a note. A Goddamned note. Old people living a half mile apart and wanting to see each other and dying without doing it. Now that's crazy for you. That's what's crazy.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“I can do this, he was thinking. All I have to do is just be as normal as everyone else. All I have to do is just not blow apart like a two-dollar clock. Just pick words and put one of them after the other like a baby learning to walk, like a drunk carefully crossing the street.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“The day drew on, was swallowed in dusk. No bird called, no insect. Life in abeyance, the world itself grinding to a halt, who knew what would follow. Light through the glass grew dim but he read on as if the passage of day into night was of no moment. The world was winding down, and young Bloodworth wound down with it.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“There was something mystic about crossroads, they doubled the options, confused both pursuer and pursued.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“She suddenly heard a wave of sound, cicadas and whippoorwills and crickets that just abruptly assailed her, and she wondered if they'd just begun or if they had already been calling and all she'd heard was the banjo music, ancient and myth-laden and somehow enticing, like sound seeping through the cracks of a place you couldn't get to anymore”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He could tell Fleming he was a musician but he could not communicate what the music said to him or said to the people he played it for. The music told itself, it made some obscure connection for which there were no words. The music was its own story, but a man could dip into the vast reservoir of folk and blues lines and phrases and images and construct his own story: though upon performing it and without it losing any relevance to his own life it now belonged to the audience as well. It was something he could not fathom. The old songs with juryrigged verses like bodies cobbled up out of bones from a thousand skeletons. Songs about death and lost love and rambling down the line because sometimes down the line was the only place left. Songs that treated the most desperate of loss with a dark sardonic humour. "I'm going where the climate suits my clothes", the song said, not saying the frustration and despair that created it, saying that in the sheer lonesomeness of the sound, in the old man's driving banjo. There was an eerie timelessness about it that said it could have been written a thousand years ago, or it could have been an unfinished song about events that had not yet played themselves out.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“It ain't never far to a bootlegger”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He stayed out of the house, he was much of the time in the woods, he felt like some animal half domesticated but ultimately unable to resist the feral ways of the forest. The spring nights were fecund and warm and alive, and there were nights he did not come in at all.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“He seemed to be drawing inward toward some point at which he would be reduced to the fundamental essence of himself.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Bloodworth was not fooled, he had these folks' number, he'd been reading their mail walking a lifetime in their shoes. Beyond the mothriddled light their faces were rapt and transfixed, he sang about death as if it was the only kept promise out of all life's false starts and switchbacks, all there was at the end of the dusty road, his voice told them about calm and quiet and eternal rest. No landlord, no cotton to chop, no ticket at the company store growing like a cancer. Just time itself frozen like leaves in winter ice and nothing in the round world to worry about or dread.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Together they knitted whole the fabric of night where violence had rent it. Everything was always changing and everything was always the same.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“They sold records out of the trunk of the Model A. They sold them with no trouble at all, folks digging up change out of their purses so worn the faces denominating it looked spectral, mere ghosts of themselves. They sold them to folks who did not even own phonographs, who had no prospects of owning one, folks who seemed to regard the records as talismans. Who handled them reverently and turned them to the light and studied the spiraling grooves as if they'd find there some physical evidence of their own provisional existence, as if their very lives were somehow encoded there”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“As night deepened all he could see was the shifting line of fire, like some malfunction in the wiring of the world itself, as if the very night had combusted and was creeping incrementally toward him.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Music had been his undoing, he told the boy in ironic self-deprecation. His bane and his salvation. It had gotten him through tough times that would have otherwise been unbearable and it had made everything else he had gone at twice as hard.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“But blood is never left up to you, blood will call to blood. You can’t deny your own kin.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


“Fleming doubted all this but he listened anyway and thought with a kind of sardonic amusement that before the night was over life itself might grasp him by the scruff of the neck and jerk him out of the doldrums he seemed grounded in and into its swifter currents.”
― William Gay, quote from Provinces of Night


About the author

William Gay
Born place: in Hohenwald, Tennessee, The United States
Born date October 27, 1941
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