F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise

25061

So here it is, the last of my thoughts on some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s major works, and right in time for summer. It was a true pleasure to re-read these again and write a bit about them, and thank you so much for the positive feedback. I haven’t had a chance to do something like this in a long time.

This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald’s first novel, is the work that catapulted him to fame at the very tender age of 23. While it’s obvious from the first page that it was written by a young author, …Paradise also clearly showcases his developing brilliance.

Here, Fitzgerald flexes his abilities in numerous ways. Stylistically and structurally, he throws everything but the kitchen sink into the book, telling it through third person narration, poetry, letters, and even sections structured like plays. It isn’t tight or subtle like his best writing, but damn, it’s an extraordinary sign of things to come. And taken within the context of the time, it not only provides a nuanced reflection of the social and cultural era of the young, post-war generation…it helped to shape it. For that reason, its importance to American literature can’t be overstated.

The book was published 99 years ago (I still can’t believe it…or that it’s almost the Twenties again), but despite that, Amory Blane’s college odyssey at Princeton still strikes very close to home…His self-importance, constantly shifting enthusiasms, and self-conscious displays of “transformation” all remind me of the vast majority of undergrads I knew in college…including myself. When you’re young, in an environment that encourages growth, and trying to discover yourself and your place in the world, everything has meaning…Everything has significance…It’s all important. Amory believes all his experiences, all his philosophies, all his realizations, and all his relationships are milestones worthy of public reflection. And, of course, he therefore shares those reflections with everyone around him, whether they want to hear them or not.

That said, Amory isn’t a true narcissist, even though some scholars disagree…He’s just young, naïve, full of himself, and for those reasons is convinced that he is destined for future glory. But after he graduates from Princeton, serves overseas in World War One, and returns home, he learns (often painfully, through breakups and death) that his previous “wisdom” isn’t as sound as he originally thought. A true narcissist, on the other hand, never learns…narcissists are often clever, but never wise.

In particular, Amory learns that self-understanding doesn’t come when willed, but when life provides the opportunity for it to be grasped. He has five relationships throughout the book, all youthful, all passionate, all doomed…but it is only after the war, when his relationship with Eleanor collapses, that he stops using girls and women as props to reflect his own ego. His relationship with her allows him to finally, truly see himself, and when he loses her, he recognizes an important truth: not only does the world not revolve around him, but he is also not, by default, the hero in his own story. That must be earned, and he has not yet earned it.

Only when he acknowledges this, reflected in the famous last line, “I know myself…but that is all,” does he truly exhibit real, hard-won wisdom. And that kind of education, of course, comes not only from living, but from recognizing, through living, that there is much that we don’t know, and more work to be done.

That’s a hell of a motif for a 23 year-old to tackle. But Fitzgerald did head-on, and the book was an overnight sensation. Its success convinced Zelda to marry him. It made him one of the great, shining lights of the Jazz Age. And unfortunately, it also set an unrealistic precedent of success that he fully expected to maintain…and which eluded him for the rest of his life. This often happens when artists explode into mainstream popularity at a young age. Maintaining that level of success simply isn’t plausible, and when it hits very early on, the shifting of public interest that inevitably follows can be extremely hard to bear.

Fitzgerald’s popularity peaked around 1922. When The Great Gatsby was published a mere three years after that, it only went through two printings (the second had not even sold out at the time of his death 15 years later), the general public – perhaps worse than condemning it – just shrugged its shoulders, and he spent the rest of his life trying in vain to somehow repeat that first, early wave of success.

The irony, of course, is that while his reputation stumbled and his finances began a precipitous decline, Fitzgerald’s skills only increased, and his work only got better. Yet much like so many of his famous characters, he would spend the rest of his days trying to recapture the great flush of youth that “year by year recedes before us” – and that haunts us and motivates us for the duration of our lives.

Favorite quotes:

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”

“Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes.”

“The great tapestries of trees had darkened to ghosts back at the last edge of twilight. The early moon had drenched the arches with pale blue, and, weaving over the night, in and out of the gossamer rifts of moon, swept a song, a song with more than a hint of sadness, infinitely transient, infinitely regretful.”

“…it was only the past that seemed strange and unbelievable.”

“Her philosophy is carpe diem for herself and laissez faire for others.”

“Selfish people are in a way terribly capable of great loves.”

“Those days are over. I have to be won all over again every time you see me.”

“It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being.”

“When Eleanor’s arm touched his he felt his hands grow cold with deadly fear lest he should lose the shadow brush with which his imagination was painting wonders of her. He watched her from the corners of his eyes as ever he did when he walked with her – she was a feast and a folly and he wished it had been his destiny to sit forever on a haystack and see life through her green eyes.”

“Beauty and love pass, I know…Oh, there’s sadness, too. I suppose all great happiness is a little sad. Beauty means the scent of roses and then the death of roses…”

“For years afterwards when Amory thought of Eleanor he seemed still to hear the wind sobbing around him and sending little chills into the places beside his heart. The night when they rode up the slope and watched the cold moon float through the clouds, he lost a further part of him that nothing could restore; and when he lost it he lost also the power of regretting it. Eleanor was, say, the last time that evil crept close to Amory under the mark of beauty…”

“Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a reverie of long days and nights, destined finally to go out into the dirty grey turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.”

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coming Home

For various reasons I’ve been visiting Maryland a fair amount over the last few months, and this summer I plan on spending a lot more time there, too – starting with another trip in just two weeks. Especially lately, the more I’m there, the more content I feel.

I lived in Ellicott City from the age of 9 to 18 (1987-96), so even though I was born and spent my early childhood in State College, I also consider Maryland “home” in many ways. Those years  there are when I really grew up, and many of the formative events and relationships that shaped who I am, took place during that time and in that place. So even though my parents haven’t lived there since ’96 either, I still feel a deep-rooted connection to my home town.

Many aspects of the 250 mile drive down from Pittsburgh bring a lot of happiness – hitting the Maryland border after passing through Breezewood, feeling the slight increase in heat and humidity, seeing the hills give way to flatter land, and coming in range of my favorite old radio station, 98 Rock, which, because it’s become more of a retro station, STILL plays all the songs I loved in high school when they were new (there’s nothing quite like coming back to the place where you were a teen in the ‘90s and hearing “Plush” kick in as you’re driving down the old familiar highways).

And then I arrive, ready to spend time with old, dear friends who shared those days with me and somehow remained in touch…or, in one amazing case, with an old, dear friend who recently came back into my life after over two decades as if it was the most natural thing in the world – which, in fact, it was. Those relationships are what make these visits really work, because going “home” isn’t possible unless you can still share it with people who were there with you – people who can remind you of things you did together that you’d forgotten, or can finish the endings of your stories for you because they lived through them too.

So a return, as long as the experience is shared, can be a very special thing – a blending of the past and the present, a mix of old memories freshened and new memories waiting to be made. Home isn’t just a place, and isn’t just a time. It’s also circumstance. And when circumstances are right, despite what Thomas Wolfe said, you can go home again. Sometimes it’s still there after all, just waiting for you to come back.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When the Sun Shines Brighter

Overall, the last few weeks have gone well — busy, and filled with the typical “end of school year” work, but still very positive. I’m on much firmer ground again in both my personal sense of self and my attitude toward the world around me, and that’s something I’m going to continue working on…in other words, the fewer negative thoughts, actions, and reactions, the better. Personal growth is, of course, an ongoing, life-long process, but when you’re coming back from the edge of a cliff, it’s easier to quantify progress as you see the cliff recede behind you.

I’m also sticking to a strict workout schedule and diet, and have kept off the 30 pounds I’ve lost since January, but this time by doing more of the right things. I have more energy, endurance, and generally just feel better physically than I have in a long time.

That’s not to say things are perfect. Shadows, as I mentioned in a previous post, always remain. But staying busy, being productive, spending time with good people, trying new things, and going new places all help to keep them largely where they belong…which is out of my way. Life can and does come at you fast, but the groundwork is in place for a positive and productive summer.

And with that in mind, I’m gearing up for my summer writing routine, which I’ll begin almost as soon as the school year is over. I’m aiming for June 17th as the starting date, and from that point on I’ll do my best to park myself at the local Panera five mornings out of every seven, and also some evenings at the nearby Starbucks, for the next eight weeks — when I’m not traveling or otherwise running around. I know, I know, there’s a whole cliché about writing at Starbucks, but I like being out among people, especially during the summer, when you can enjoy the sunlight or twilight without feeling rushed, and sometimes sit outside and enjoy the warmth too.

There are few quiet pleasures more satisfying than sitting on the patio of a bar or café on a sunny morning or warm evening and feeling the world hum around you. Everyone should have at least one “Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” as Hemingway put it, and everyone should visit it frequently.

One of my favorite memories is from the end of my junior year at Penn State. My friends and I were all 21, it was early-May, the semester was coming to a close, the sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid-70s, and it was a late Friday afternoon, so all our classes were finished for the week. So we grabbed a table and sat on the patio at Café 210 West, right on College Avenue, drinking beer and bullshitting the afternoon away. Other students filled the surrounding tables, and State College came alive the way only a college town entering the weekend in good weather can. It was perfect. We had worked hard to get to that point in our lives; our futures stretched out before us, great unknowns but full of potential; and to me, the sunlight seemed brighter, the beer tasted better, and the world’s hum was more vibrant and euphonious than at almost any other time I could remember. To this day, the sun only rarely seems quite as bright as it did that afternoon…and when it does, I take notice, because it means life in those moments is truly good.

So I do like being surrounded by that hum, and in a place – sometimes familiar, sometimes not – where I can really hear it and feel a part of it. In other words, as I said before, I like being around people, even when I’m working…because those special moments can happen at any time, even when it’s only while writing in a public place on a summer morning or evening. They can’t be planned, so they’re always a surprise. But if you tuck yourself away from everything you can be sure they’ll never come. You must get out and, however dramatically or quietly, be a part of things, whether that means skydiving in New Zealand or writing outside a Starbucks in Pennsylvania.

So if you’re in the area this summer, and you stop by that Panera in the morning or that Starbucks in the evening – where I’m writing this now, in fact – there’s a decent chance you’ll find me there, working on stories from my inner world while also quietly enjoying the world around me.

And if you do, please tap me on the shoulder and say “Hi.” Sometimes even a little thing like that is all it takes to make the sun shine a bit brighter, no matter what time of day it is, or how many clouds are in the sky.

scavhunt_013.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned

FSF036

Fitzgerald’s second novel, published in 1922 at the height of his popularity, is a tough read – not because the book isn’t well-written, or illuminating, or because its messages aren’t true. It’s because the main characters are so unlikable, and their lives so damn empty. Whether or not this is their fault, or society’s, or – which is always much more likely – a combination of both, doesn’t really matter. They are empty, entitled people living in a culture that seems to encourage emptiness and entitlement.

Anthony Patch and Gloria Gilbert have both been raised with one ultimate goal in mind: to marry “well”…Anthony someone beautiful, and Gloria someone rich. Anthony is banking off an inheritance that he assumes will one day be his, and Gloria is banking off her beauty. Once they do marry, they are left without any clear goals. Everything in their lives had led up to that moment, and now, once they have the marriage clinched, they are lost. Their relationship descends into arguments, empty affairs, and alcoholism. Neither have any practical skills. Neither have accomplished anything important or meaningful in their lives. And neither of them have a plan for how to fill the years ahead.

It reminds me of a line spoken by Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby: “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon?…and the day after that, and the next thirty years?”

Imagine The Great Gatsby without the “romantic readiness” of Jay Gatsby. Imagine, instead, if it focused wholly on Tom and Daisy Buchanan as the main and only characters. It would be a penetrating and incisive look at the emptiness and diminishment that comes from living with wealth but without purpose, yes…but at the same time offer no relief through anything romantic, bittersweet, or stirring.

That is The Beautiful and Damned. An excellent book about people who have no excellent qualities, and which is unrelenting in its examination of those people.

Favorite quotes:

“I will go on shining as a brilliantly meaningless figure in a meaningless world.”

“All she wanted was to be a little girl, to be efficiently taken care of by some yielding yet superior power, stupider and steadier than herself. It seemed that the only lover she had ever wanted was a lover in a dream.”

“Two souls are sometimes created together – and in love before they’re born.”

“I don’t care about truth. I want some happiness.”

“Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of us.”

“Things are sweeter when they’re lost. I know – because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly…and when I got it, it turned to dust in my hand.”

“How I feel is that if I wanted anything I’d take it. That’s what I’ve always thought all my life. But it happens that I want you, and so I just haven’t room for any other desires.”

“This was his healthy state and it made him cheerful, pleasant, and very attractive to intelligent men and to all women. In this state he considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that the elect would deem worthy and, passing on, would join the dimmer stars in a nebulous, indeterminate heaven halfway between death and immortality.”

“Then I grew up, and the beauty of succulent illusions fell away from me.”

“Beautiful things grow to a certain height and then they fail and fade off, breathing out memories as they decay.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ritual

A beat-up old picnic table has been sitting on my back patio now for almost a decade, and yesterday I repainted it. It’s something I do every three years.

It used to belong to my grandparents. Some of my earliest memories are of having picnics with them in the shade of the maple tree in their backyard, right next to the little flower garden they re-planted every year. My grandfather and I would play whiffle ball on the sunny lawn directly behind it, and go for walks in the woods behind that. I knew every inch of that yard, and in many ways the picnic table was the heart of it.

A summer was never really a summer without it.

Screen Shot 2019-05-27 at 11.19.02 AM

Me in August 1979. My grandparents’ garden, Maple tree, and picnic table, same year.

Every spring, when my parents and I drove the two hours to see my grandparents for the first post-winter visit of the year, it would magically appear from the shed, cleaned, sometimes re-painted, and waiting for use. Its return was one of the rituals that proved winter was really over, and that the Fourth of July, the Dayton Fair, and all the other promises of summer were on the way.

And every summer, when those special days finally came around, we would use it. My mom and grandmother would spend an hour in the kitchen getting lunch ready – sandwiches and meatloaf and potato salad and coleslaw and fruit salad and corn on the cob, then pie and cookies and ice cream.

Those were the years when it felt like summer would last almost forever – that the days between early June and late August were a gulf of time that could barely be comprehended. Back then, you never knew which family members would show up on any given day. It might just be my grandparents, my parents, and yours truly – or my Uncle Loren, Great-Uncle Tom, Great-Aunt Sis, some cousins, and a few neighbors might stop by, too. If that happened, card tables and lawn chairs were set up nearby, extra table cloths unfurled, and more food would miraculously appear (courtesy of my grandmother) from the bottomless cupboards, overworked Roper stove, and fridge.

picnic table

With my cousins Aggie and Bill, 1983

If the visit was near the Fourth of July and evening was coming on, sometimes an older relative would give sparklers to the kids, so we’d run around the picnic table, the tree, the yard, the house, leaving trails of magic fire behind us. And in the evening we’d often sit out there, and I’d listen to the old people talking as I played, until the ice in the glasses began to melt, bugs began to bite, the fireflies became too hard to catch, and it got too dark to see.

My grandfather died on a cold February morning in 1988, a week before my 10th birthday. In the following years, Uncle Tom and Aunt Sis also passed, along with all the other older relatives and neighbors from their generation, until now there are only a few of us left who shared those times together.

But still, for the rest of her life, my grandmother made sure that every spring, the picnic table was brought out, wiped clean, sometimes painted, and always ready.

During those later years, the maple tree had to be cut down, and finally, toward the end, the little flower garden became too much for her to handle, even with help. The picnic table sat alone in the much more empty (but smaller-seeming) back yard. Before she moved to a nursing home I would still sometimes sit out there with her, just the two of us. When one of its wooden planks broke free, I nailed it back. When it needed to be painted, I painted it, just like my grandfather used to.

And when she died at the age of 96, over 20 years after my grandfather, and the house went up for sale, I saw one of the great centers of my life dismantled bit by bit – most of the furniture auctioned off, the belongings of a lifetime divvied up between my parents and my uncle, or given away to more distant relatives, sold, or thrown away.

And when the house was all but empty, as barren as the back yard, and we knew this was the last time we would ever set foot inside it, my dad and I loaded up a small moving van with things I wanted to keep. From the kitchen, I took the red wooden bench, the hutch, and the stool by the stove where my grandfather used to sit. I also took mugs and clocks and books and dozens of other knick-knacks from around the house that no one else wanted, each a catalyst for my childhood memories…In other words, treasures.

And I took the picnic table.

That was ten years ago. Since then, I’ve only driven past my grandparents’ old house once, two years back, when I made a detour through their town on my way to someplace else. I wish I hadn’t. The side porch had been ripped away. My grandmother’s clothesline was gone, along with my grandfather’s shed. The yard was patchy and overgrown. It was the same house, but not. It was the same yard, but different. Everything that had made it theirs was gone. I will never go back again.

But my grandfather’s stool, the red wooden bench, and the hutch from my grandparents’ kitchen are now safely in my den. And outside, on my back porch, the picnic table sits. My sons have grown up using it, and for them, it is now as much a fixture of summer as it was to me. And every few years, like I did yesterday, I re-paint it the same maroon color my grandparents always did.

We leave behind legacies we can’t even comprehend. They are comprised of thousands upon thousands of memories, lessons, and experiences. And some of the most important parts of those legacies don’t have to be grand, or even obvious.

They just have to remind us of love. And when they do, they create more of it.

20190527_104641 copy

Today

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Winter Dreams

metropolitan-magazine-december-1922_1_ff179e406e93de1d1bf9e4260629bbb0

This is a difficult story for me to read. It always has been, it always will be. Fitzgerald understands and expresses the nature of love and loss better than any other writer I’ve encountered, and “Winter Dreams,” along with Gatsby, is the apex of that understanding and expression. It’s both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Just as Daisy doesn’t deserve Gatsby, Judy doesn’t deserve Dexter. But he still loves her – wholly, deeply, and with utter and passionate abandon. When she throws him over for the last time, he slowly recovers, converting his memories of her into what Fitzgerald, to quote from Gatsby, describes as “a melancholy beauty.”

It is hard enough to lose the person you love. But Dexter can somehow live with that pain, as long as his image of her – his dream of her – is not shattered. It is only when he realizes that the dream of her is dead, killed by time, by circumstance, by life…her spirit oppressed, her beauty faded, her existence rendered mundane…that the foundation of his youthful exuberance and ambition is destroyed, and he is broken.

It is only when our dreams die that we truly grow old.

Favorite Quotes:

“Often he reached out for the best without knowing why he wanted it – and sometimes he ran up against the mysterious denials and prohibitions in which life indulges.”

“…because the sound of a piano over a stretch of water had always seemed beautiful to Dexter he lay perfectly quiet and listened….The sound of the tune precipitated in him a sort of ecstasy and it was with that ecstasy he viewed what happened to him now. It was a mood of intense appreciation, a sense that, for once, he was magnificently attuned to life and that everything about him was radiating a brightness and a glamour he might never know again.”

“She was not a girl who could be ‘won’ in the kinetic sense – she was proof against cleverness, she was proof against charm; if any of these assailed her too strongly she would immediately resolve the affair to a physical basis, and under the magic of her physical splendor the strong as well as the brilliant played her game and not their own.”

“May at last. Dexter walked the streets at night when the darkness was damp as rain, wondering that so soon, with so little done, so much of ecstasy had gone from him….fire and loveliness were gone, the magic of nights and the wonder of the varying hours and seasons.”

“She was watching him closely and the silence was embarrassing, yet in this crisis he could find no casual word with which to profane the hour.”

“A million phrases of anger, pride, passion, hatred, tenderness fought on his lips. Then a perfect wave of emotion washed over him, carrying off with it a sediment of wisdom, of convention, of doubt, of honor. This was his girl who was speaking, his own, his beautiful, his pride.”

“…she communicated her excitement to him, lavishly, deeply, with kisses that were not a promise but a fulfillment….kisses that were like charity, creating want by holding back nothing at all.” 

“Dexter was at bottom hard-minded. The attitude of the city on his action was of no importance to him, not because he was going to leave the city, but because any outside attitude on the situation seemed superficial. He was completely indifferent to popular opinion.”

“…he had tasted the deep pain that is reserved only for the strong, just as he had tasted for a little while the deep happiness.”

“He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back any more. The gates were closed, the sun was gone down, and there was no beauty but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of illusion, of youth, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night

475882810.0.x

Tender is the Night had a troubled creation and publication. After the financial disappointment of The Great Gatsby in 1925, Fitzgerald was convinced it would be his “comeback” novel – a tour de force that would re-establish his literary reputation and financial security.

He needed it. Between the start of its composition in 1926 and its publication in 1934, The Great Depression struck, Zelda Fitzgerald’s mental illness developed into a schizophrenia from which she never fully recovered, Fitzgerald’s income dwindled significantly, and his popularity declined. His alcoholism also began to take a much greater toll on him. On top of that, he borrowed a great deal of money from his publisher, Scribner’s, against future book sales, and Tender… took far longer to complete than he expected.

In short, he really needed it to be a success in every way.

It wasn’t. Sales were poor and reviews were tepid. The general consensus seemed to be that although the world had moved on from the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald hadn’t, and was therefore out of touch with the current plight of the average American…when, considering his personal life, nothing could have been further from the truth. Other critics slammed the structure of the novel, especially the integration and pacing of the flashbacks.

Fitzgerald was crushed. He considered Tender is the Night to be his greatest work, and was profoundly affected by its reception. For one of the first and only times in his life, he began to openly second-guess his instinct based on the critical response, and even prepared a reordered version of the novel sometime after its initial publication. Thankfully that version was never published in his lifetime…only years after his death, and as something of a curiosity — kind of like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road scroll, or Thomas Wolfe’s O Lost (the unedited version of Look Homeward, Angel). Ray Bradbury once lent me his copy of the reordered Tender is the Night and asked for my thoughts on it. I was honest…I felt it destroyed the carefully-structured flow, not only of the plot, but of the character development. Imagine if all the flashbacks in The Great Gatsby, so perfectly placed exactly where they needed to be, were belatedly moved to the front of the book, before Nick even states, “In my younger and more vulnerable years…,” and you get the idea.

Ray agreed. “It’s terrible, isn’t it?” he told me. “You must never second-guess yourself.”

Thankfully, the originally published version is still the accepted one, and in the long decades since its first appearance, Tender is the Night has been reassessed in a far more positive light. It is now considered a classic, although in my opinion it is still under-appreciated compared to Fitzgerald’s other major works.

The story of Dick and Nicole Diver, Rosemary Hoyt, and Tommy Barban is a beautifully-written but painful examination of how pity, lust, pride, mental illness, the “Florence Nightingale effect,” and betrayal can destroy careers, reputations, relationships, and self-worth. At the beginning of the novel, Dick Diver seems to have everything. By the end, he has lost it all. Fitzgerald, who once wrote, “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy,” excelled at this type of rise-and-fall story, but rarely, if ever, did he craft one so intricately, or with such harrowing candor. For example, all the details of Nicole’s mental illness, her treatment, and Dick’s reaction to them came from Fitzgerald’s own experience with Zelda’s deteriorating mental health, and the things he had to learn while dealing with it, her doctors, and her care…They are unflinching, accurate, and honest. This, mixed with Fitzgerald’s exquisite prose, makes Tender is the Night both devastating and brilliant.

Favorite Quotes:

“Actually that’s my secret – I can’t even talk about you to anybody because I don’t want any more people to know how wonderful you are.”

“Wanting above all to be brave and kind, he had wanted, even more than that, to be loved. So it had been. So it would forever be…”

“When she saw him face to face their eyes met and brushed like birds’ wings. After that everything was all right, everything was wonderful, she knew that he was beginning to fall in love with her.”

“Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am tonight.”

“Either you think – or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”

“For him time stood still and then every few years accelerated in a rush, like the quick re-wind of a film, but for Nicole the years slipped away by clock and calendar and birthday, with the added poignance of her perishable beauty.”

“He sometimes looked back with awe at the carnivals of affection he had given, as a general might gaze upon a massacre he had ordered to satisfy an impersonal blood lust.”

“When people are taken out of their depths they lose their heads, no matter how charming a bluff they put up.”

“They looked at each other at last, murmuring names that were a spell. Softly the two names lingered on the air, died away more slowly than other words, other names, slower than music in the mind.”

“One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are opens wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.”

“In any case you musn’t confuse a single failure with a final defeat.”

“She did not know yet that splendor is something in the heart; at the moment when she realized that and melted into the passion of the universe he could take her without question or regret.”

“Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy – one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure, but turn out to have been the pleasure itself.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment