“I’ve never had anyone’s approval, so I’ve learned to live without it.”
“Always believe in things and people that bring you pleasure. What good does it do to throw those things out the window?”
“On the road, he was alive, vibrant, moving. It didn’t afford the freedom of a jet plane flying through a clear sky, but a highway offered something almost as profound, an entry into the secret regions of the earth where towns with foreign, unrecallable names were violated once, then forgotten for all time.”
“Good taste is not something you can be taught. It’s not something you obtain in a store or go to college to learn.”
“Somewhere, the billion dreams of the town since its origin stirred in a maelstrom far from the reach of the shrimpers’ nets. Old dreams still burned with the power of their one night on earth, but burned deep and forbidden in regions denied to men.”
“What kind of world is it, Ben thought, that lets its coaches die without his boys around him, buying him Cokes, calling him by his first name, and rubbing his shoulder with Atomic Balm? He died without a face in a room I never saw without my kisses in the stained gauze or without my prayers entering the center of his pain. But worst of all, O God, you let him die, let Coach Murphy die, let Dave die, without my thanks, my thanks, my thanks.”
“Sergeant Hicks seemed to be laid out in squares as though he were constructed out of cinder blocks. There was a hardness to his body that made his uniform appear to be little more than a paint job. He walked as if each step he took was driving a hated enemy toward a precipice.”
“Suddenly, Coach Spinks’s face mellowed. There was a dissociation of form and substance. His eyes glistened; his gaze became beatific. “Let us pray,” he said and all the heads on the team dropped floorward as though they were puppets strung to the same wire. “O sweet Jesus, we come again to ask your blessings and your forgiveness for our many trespasses against you and our fellow neighbor. We are playin’ West Charleston High School tonight, Lord, but there’s no need to tell you that since you knew about it two or three million years before I did. We ask, good Jesus, not that we beat West Charleston High but that we do our best before our God, our family, and our country. We do ask, Lord, if you see it befitting, that we score a point or two more than West Charleston even though I know that Coach Warners is a God-fearin’ man and a deacon in the Baptist Church besides. But you know as well as I, Lord, he’s one of the mouthiest so-and-so’s that ever wore socks. I’m also aware, dear Jesus, that their players are all clean cut boys and also pleasant to your sight. We don’t want to ask for anything special, Lord, but help my rebounders get off their feet. Help Pinkie and Jim Don control their tempers. Give Philip and Art a little more temper. And get Ben to quit throwin’ those big city behind-the-back passes. And, Lord, please help this high school if I got to make any substitutions. My scrubs is good boys but they’ve been havin’ a devil of a time puttin’ that ball into the hole. The real thing I want to ask, Lord, is that all these boys make the first team in that great game of life. If they make mistakes, Lord, blow the whistle because you’re the great referee. Call time out and bring them to center court for another jump ball. Don’t let them go out of bounds, Lord. If they bust a play, make ’em run wind-sprints and figure eights but stay with ’em, Lord. Coach ’em all the way to the championship of life. A-men.” “A-men,” the team echoed in relief.”
“beneficent realization that he was a stranger no longer, that he belonged”
“They love their families with their hearts and souls and they wage war against them to prove it.”
“I’ve never trusted a man who put cream or sugar in his coffee. Just like I never really trusted a man who put Coca-Cola in his bourbon.”
“Here, open wide and let it slide,” he said, tilting a half-shell into Ben’s mouth. The oyster hit Ben’s mouth. It felt warm, salty, and had the consistency of loose phlegm. For a moment, Ben thought he was going to vomit. Somehow, he got the animal down his throat.”
“This time Ben swallowed faster as though he were ingesting his own saliva. Speed, he thought, was the secret behind the enigma of why men would torture themselves by placing these raw quivering bivalves on their tongues. He couldn’t rid his mind of the image that he was eating shelled snot.”
“Then Sister Loretta got to her point. “There are some boys in here who probably play with themselves at night. Abuse themselves. I am sure all of you know what I mean.” “Yes, Sister,” Ben thought, hating her, “I know what you mean.” “Always remember that your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost and when you abuse yourself sexually, you are also abusing the house of God. Scientists call this vile habit masturbation, but it is more aptly referred to as self-abuse,” she said, glaring into the collective face of adolescence which suffered before her. “Self-abuse,” she repeated. “Just think of these two words and you will never be tempted to engage in this again. God knows if you abuse yourself. He watches you. He sees you do it. It disgusts him. It disgusts him so much that he calls his mother, the Blessed Virgin, to his side to watch the hideous spectacle. Then he calls his angels to watch and all the Saints in heaven. Thousands upon thousands of Saints and Angels are watching you every hour of the day. They especially watch you when you are alone at night. They see the dirty things you do with your hands and private parts. All of heaven: God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, the Blessed Mother, the Seraphim, and all the other Angels scream out their hatred of you, chant and sing that they despise you as they watch you flaunt yourself and weaken yourself with your filthy acts.” As Ben listened in pitched horror at Sister Loretta’s portraiture of heaven’s entire populace jeering at some thin lad’s whacking off in the privacy of his room, not knowing he was being observed by the entire celestial civilization, Ben thought of himself, his sinfulness, and his innocence. He had received no preparation—none—for his entry into the arena of a Catholic adolescence”
“Lillian Meecham was a stunningly beautiful woman of thirty-seven. Time had encircled her softly, enriched and deepened her beauty as the years tiptoed past her. Her hair was long, a dark luxuriant red, swept to one side of her head and half covering her right eye, a haughty, insouciant mane that added a touch of ingenuous naughtiness to a face that otherwise had the innocence of a Madonna. Her face was a reflection of many things; a sum of many transfiguring, even violent events. Her smile was joyous, but the joy was fringed with grief. Her lips were full and passionate, her nose, mischievous and arrogant. In her face, hardening experiences were registered in soft places. Pain was exiled to the nearly invisible lines shooting out from the eyes. Grief radiated in tight stars from both sides of her mouth. These wrinkles were the only indications that the face had suffered and that time had left at least a few footprints in passage. It was a kind face; a face that sons could love, husbands worship, and daughters envy. Her body was firm, ripe, and full. It had rich curves that invited the secret scholarship of men’s eyes. She had borne four children and suffered three miscarriages, but her stomach was as hard and flat as her hand.”
“beware the law behind closed doors, the yellow-toothed men behind silver badges who had been betrayed by their chromosomes and their birth. She would talk of power as a yeast that could activate a malevolence that no force on earth could overcome once it had begun. Beware”
“Why is it when you yield, I feel like the one who has been conquered?"
“Is it...dead?" asked Tom, his voice all quivery with fright.
"A town just ran over him," said Hester. "I shouldn't think he's very well...”
“The earth will probably sink and drown; but at least it will be the result of generally acknowledged political and economic ideas, at least it will be accomplished with the help of the science, industry, and public opinion, with the application of all human ingenuity! No cosmic catastrophy, nothing but state, official, economic, and other causes. Nothing can be done to prevent it.”
“Ezra clapped his hands. "all right," he said. "In addition to the books we're reading as a class, I want to do an extra side project on unreliable narrators." Devon Arliss raised her hand. "what does that mean?" Ezra strode around the room. "well, the narrator tells us the story in the book, right? But what if... the narrator isn't telling us the truth? Maybe he's telling us his skewed version of the story to get you on his side. Or to scare you. Or maybe he's crazy!”
“All you need is already within you, only you must approach your self with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-disgust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for your self, all I plead with you is this: make love of your self perfect. Deny your self nothing--give yourself infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.”
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