30+ quotes from So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

Quotes from So Long, See You Tomorrow

William Maxwell ·  135 pages

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“What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory--meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion--is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“His sadness was of the kind that is patient and without hope.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“It seemed like a mistake. And mistakes ought to be rectified, only this one couldn't be. Between the way things used to be and the way they were now was a void that couldn't be crossed. I had to find an explanation other than the real one, which was that we were no more immune to misfortune than anybody else, and the idea that kept recurring to me...was that I had inadvertently walked through a door that I shouldn't have gone through and couldn't get back to the place I hadn't meant to leave. Actually, it was other way round: I hadn't gone anywhere and nothing was changed, so far as the roof over our heads was concerned, it was just that she was in the cemetery.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“I had inadvertently walked through a door that I shouldn’t have gone through and couldn’t get back to the place I hadn’t meant to leave.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Who knows what oversensitive is, considering all there is to be sensitive to.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“They looked at me, and were so full of delight in the pleasure they were giving me that some final thread of resistance gave way and I understood not only how entirely generous they were but also that generosity might be the greatest pleasure there is.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“The reason life is so strange is that so often people have no choice,”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Whether they are part of a home or home is a part of them is not a question children are prepared to answer. Having taken away the dog, take away the kitchen–the smell of something good in the oven for dinner. Also the smell of washing day, of wool drying in the wooden rack. Of ashes. Of soup simmering on the stove. Take away the patient old horse waiting by the pasture fence. Take away the chores that kept him busy from the time he got home from school until they sat down to supper. Take away the early-morning mist, the sound of crows quarreling in the treetops.
His work clothes are still hanging on a nail beside the door of his room, but nobody puts them on or takes them off. Nobody sleeps in his bed. Or reads the broken-back copy of Tom Swift and His Flying Machine. Take that away too, while you are at it.
Take away the pitcher and bowl, both of them dry and dusty. Take away the cow barn where the cats, sitting all in a row, wait with their mouths wide open for somebody to squirt milk down their throats. Take away the horse barn too–the smell of hay and dust and horse piss and old sweat-stained leather, and the rain beating down on the plowed field beyond the door. Take all this away and what have you done to him? In the face of a deprivation so great, what is the use of asking him to go on being the boy he was. He might as well start life over again as some other boy instead.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“My father represented authority, which meant—to me—that he could not also represent understanding.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Without the heavy set aristocratic man snoring away on his side of the bed, without the fresh-eyed child whose hair ribbon needs retying; without the conversation at meals and the hearty appetites and getting dressed for church on time; without the tears of laughter or the worry about making both ends meet, the unpaid bills, the layoffs, both seasonal and unexpected; without the toys that have to picked up lest somebody trip over them, and the seven shirts that have to be washed and ironed, one for every day in the week; without the scraped knee and the hurt feelings, the misunderstandings that need to be cleared up, the voices calling for her so that she is perpetually having to stop what she is doing and go see what they want - without all this, what have you? A mystery: How is it that she didn't realize it was going to last such a short time?”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory - meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion - is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“A gentleman doesn't have one set of manners for the house of a poor man and another for the house of someone with an income incomparable to his own.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Love, even of the most ardent and soul-destroying kind, is never caught by the lens of the camera.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“But he was careful. He didn’t make a simple remark without rehearsing it beforehand. And he continually removed the expression from his face lest it be the wrong one, and give him away. He also avoided any strong light, such as the lamp on the kitchen table. Sometimes a weakness overcame him, his legs were unstrung, and he had to find some place to sit down, but this was easy enough to disguise. It was his voice that gave him the most trouble. It sounded false to him and not like his voice at all.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“It would have been a help if at some time Baptist preacher, resting his forearms on the pulpit and hunching his shoulders, had said People neither get what they deserve nor deserve what they get. The gentle and the trusting are trampled on. The rich man usually forces his way through the eye of the needle, and there is little or no point in putting your faith in Divine Providence. . . . On the other hand, how could any preacher, Baptist or otherwise, say this?”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“It seemed like a mistake. And mistakes ought to be rectified, only this one couldn't be. Between the way things used to be and the way they were now was a void that couldn't be crossed.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“In any case talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Sometimes she goes out to work as a practical nurse, and comes home and sits by the kitchen table soaking her feet in a pan of hot water and Epsom salts. When she gets into bed and the springs creak under her weight, she groans with the pleasure of lying stretched out on an object that understands her so well.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“They had stopped shouting at each other and put their faith in legal counsel. With the result that how things could be made to look was what counted, not how they actually were.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“As he turned away I had the feeling he had washed his hands of me. Was I not the kind of little boy he wanted to have?”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Blessed is the peacemaker for he shall—inherit the kingdom of heaven?… see God?”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“He would reject four in a row and find himself hurriedly acting on the fifth. His feet took him there, without his consent. He might as well have given in in the first place.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Between the way things used to be and the way they were now was a void that couldn’t be crossed.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“Ono što mi, ili barem ja, samouvjereno smatramo sjećanjem - znači, trenutak, prizor, činjenicu koja je fiksirana i tako spašena od zaborava - ustvari je oblik pripovijedanja koje se trajno odvija u umu i često s kazivanjem mijenja. Uključeno je previše proturječnih emocionalnih interesa da bi život ikada bio potpuno prihvatljiv, i možda je pripovjedačeva zadaća preurediti stvari tako da se prilagode tom cilju. U svakom slučaju, govoreći o prošlosti, lažemo sa svakim udisajem.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“What distinguished the murder of Lloyd Wilson from all the others was a fact so shocking that the Lincoln Courier-Herald hesitated several days before printing it: The murderer had cut off the dead man’s ear with a razor and carried it away with him. In that pre-Freudian era people did not ask themselves what the ear might be a substitution for, but merely shuddered.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“When my father was getting along in years and the past began to figure more in his conversation, I asked him one day what my mother was like. I knew what she was like as my mother but I thought it was time somebody told me what she was like as a person. To my surprise he said, “That’s water over the dam,” shutting me up but also leaving me in doubt, because of his abrupt tone of voice, whether he didn’t after all this time have any feeling about her much, or did have but didn’t think he ought to. In any case he didn’t feel like talking about her to me.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“And looking at these faded snapshots I see, the child that survives in me sees with a pang that—I am old enough to be that man’s father, and he has been dead for nearly twenty years, and yet it troubles me that he was happy. Why? In some way his happiness was at that time (and forever after, it would seem) a threat to me. It was not the kind of happiness that children are included in, but why should that trouble me now? I do not even begin to understand it.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“What we, or at at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory- meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion- is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for the life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw.”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw. Before”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


“His sadness was of the kind that is patient and without hope. He”
― William Maxwell, quote from So Long, See You Tomorrow


About the author

William Maxwell
Born place: in Lincoln, Illinois, The United States
Born date August 16, 1908
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