“Survive long enough and you get to a far point in life where nothing else of particular interest is going to happen. After that, if you don’t watch out, you can spend all your time tallying your losses and gains in endless narrative. All you love has fled or been taken away. Everything fallen from you except the possibility of jolting and unforewarned memory springing out of the dark, rushing over you with the velocity of heartbreak. May walking down the hall humming an old song—“The Girl I Left Behind Me”—or the mere fragrance of clove in spiced tea can set you weeping and howling when all you’ve been for weeks on end is numb.”
“It is a bad idea to live too long. Few carry it off well.”
“You never know when somebody will pull you to them.”
“That's the way it is at some point in life. An inevitable consequence of living. A lot of things begin falling away.”
“My opinion was that if hogs are biting you so often that you have to stop and make up a specific word for it, maybe lack of vocabulary is not your most pressing problem.”
“What I wanted to do was slap him down a bit with wit and words. Grammar and vocabulary as a weapon. But what kind of world would it be if we all took every opportunity presented to us to assault the weak?”
“In the end, he said he judged the Bible to be a sound book. Nevertheless, he wondered why the white people were not better than they are, having had it for so long. He promised that just as soon as white people achieved Christianity, he would recommend it to his own folks.”
“I won't go into it any further, other than to say that year by year the world darkens down and things are always going away.”
“Or maybe it is only that we are so habitually inattentive that when some rare but simple geometry grabs us by the shoulders and shakes us into consciousness, we call our response sacred.”
“Most of the travel was purposeless, carried out in exactly the desperate spirit of fleeing from pursuers. It was romantic, in a certain sense. Especially if you’re not the one doing it.”
“...I had always believed prayer ought to be conducted on our feet rather than on our knees, since God seems in all other departments of life to require us to stand upright and account for ourselves.”
“It is tempting to look back at Bear’s people from the perspective of this modern world and see them as changeless and pure, authentic people in ways impossible for anybody to be anymore. We need Noble Savages for our own purposes. Our happy imaginings about them and the pure world they occupied do us good when incoherent change overwhelms us. But even in those early days when I was first getting to know Bear and his people, I could see that change and brutal loss had been all they had experienced for two centuries.”
“I decided that many of Bear’s stories and comments shared a general drift. They advised against fearing all of creation. But not because it is always benign, for it is not. It will, with certainty, consume us all. We are made to be destroyed. We are kindling for the fire, and our lives will stand as naught against the onrush of time. Bear’s position, if I understood it, was that refusal to fear these general terms of existence is an honorable act of defiance.”
“Desire abides. It is all people have that stands proof against time. Everything else rots.”
“many of Bear’s stories and comments shared a general drift. They advised against fearing all of creation. But not because it is always benign, for it is not. It will, with certainty, consume us all. We are made to be destroyed. We are kindling for the fire, and our lives will stand as naught against the onrush of time. Bear’s position, if I understood it, was that refusal to fear these general terms of existence is an honorable act of defiance.”
“Identity, though, is a difficult matter to tease out, especially in a time of flux. How to tell a spaniel from a retriever when all dogs have become middle-sized and brown? Should we go by some arbitrary blood quantum wherein half makes an Indian and forty-nine percent makes something else? Certainly forty-nine percent does not a whiteman make, at least not by the laws then prevailing in our state and most others. Or do we go by the old ways, the clans and the mothers, blood degree be damned? Or by what language someone dreams in or prays in or curses in? Or whether they cook bean bread and still tell the tales of Spearfinger and Uktena by the winter fire and go to water when they’re sick? And what if they did all those things but were blond and square-headed as Norsemen? Or do we just hold a dry oak leaf to their cheeks and cull by whether they are darker or lighter?”
“I’ve done enough movies in the last twenty-five years to know that this is always a difficult moment for an actor. Actors nearly always want to appear courageous and committed, willing to do anything for the team. So while it is perfectly acceptable to opt out of a stunt and let the professionals handle it, there is some pressure, mostly internal, to push yourself beyond your normal comfort zone. Typically, the director will follow up after the consultation with the stunt coordinator and special effects experts and the actors, just to make sure everyone is at ease with their respective roles when it comes to the stunt. Certainly that was the case on this occasion, as Rob consulted with both Robin and me about our willingness to do the stunt. But more so with her, seeing as she was the one who was actually going to be set on fire.”
“I’ve always loved Russian humor,” said Nate. “It’s a shame there’s so little of it.”
“I don’t give a donkey’s damn what you want.”
“You’re allowed to want different things in bed than you do in your normal everyday life.”
“He was reaching that age, he was at the edge of it, when the world becomes suddenly more beautiful, when it reveals itself in a special way, in every detail, roof and wall, in the leaves of trees fluttering faintly before the rain. The world was opening itself, as if to allow, now that life was shortening, one long, passionate look, and all that had been withheld would finally be given.”
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