Short Fiction Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Short Fiction. Here they are! All 200 of them:

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There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far, it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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In a perfect world, you could fuck people without giving them a piece of your heart. And every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of heart you’ll never see again.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon. You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood. She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that witches are often betrayed by their appetites; dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always; hearts can be well-hidden, and you can betray them with your tongue. (from "Instructions")
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Do not lose hope β€” what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. (from 'Instructions')
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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The view changes from where you are standing. Words can wound, and wounds can heal. All of these things are true.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.
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Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction)
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Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.
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Arthur Conan Doyle (A Case of Identity - a Sherlock Holmes Short Story (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #3))
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Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I thought I was your destination. Looks like I was just another stop on the line.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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You know how is it when you love someone? And the hard part, the bad part, the Jerry Springer Show part is that you never stop loving someone. There's always a piece of them in your heart.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Fiction has been maligned for centuries as being "false," "untrue," yet good fiction provides more truth about the world, about life, and even about the reader, than can be found in non-fiction.
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Clark Zlotchew
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Stories are made up by people who make them up. If they work, they get retold. There's the magic of it.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Writing is flying in dreams. When you remember. When you can. When it works. It's that easy.
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Neil Gaiman
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Belinda stared into the fire for some time, thinking about what she had in her life, and what she had given up; and whether it would be worse to love someone who was no longer there, or not to love someone who was.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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In every way that counted, I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the lips and face and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smile and kept moving. If I could have physically passed away, just let it all go, like that, without doing anything, stepped out of life as easily as walking through a door I would have done. But I was going to sleep at night and waking in the morning, disappointed to be there and resigned to existence.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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If you were to try and pick him out of a group of boys, you’d be wrong. He’d be the other one. Over at the side. The one your eye slipped over.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, Judges and Justices all fall prey to the Hitman.
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R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
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There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won't remember and that she can't even let herself think about because that's when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it's always raining a slow endless drizzle.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Nobody will ever hurt her. She’ll just smile her faint vague wonderful smile and walk away.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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There are some as are what they are. And there are some as aren't what they seem to be. And there are some as only seem to be what they seem to be.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I am not scared of bad people, of wicked evildoers, of monsters and creatures of the night. The people who scare me are the ones who are certain of their own rightness. The ones who know how to behave, and what their neighbors need to do to be on the side of the good.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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You're a poem?' I repeated. She chewed her lower lip. 'If you want. I am a poem, or I am a pattern, or a race of people whose whose world was swallowed by the sea.' 'Isn't it hard to be three things at the same time?' 'What's your name?' 'Enn.' 'So you are Enn,' she said. 'And you are a male. And you are a biped. Is it hard to be three things at the same time?
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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It occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkable difficult to kill.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Memory is the great deceiver. Perhaps there are some individuals whose memories act like tape recordings, daily records of their lives complete in every detail, but I am not one of them. My memory is a patchwork of occurrences, of discontinuous events roughly sewn together: The parts I remember, I remember precisely, whilst other sections seemed to have vanished completely.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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Recounting the strange is like telling one's dreams: one can communicate the events of a dream, but not the emotional content, the way that a dream can colour one's entire day.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Writing's a lot like cooking. Sometimes the cake won't rise, no matter what you do, and every now and again the cake tastes better than you ever could have dreamed it would.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Some of us claim that he was a messiah, and some think that he was just a man with very special powers. But that misses the point. Whatever he was, he changed the world.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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On the whole, stories don't write themselves.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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The Slice and Dice Fanatic uses his sexual skills to lure his victims into his realm of fun.
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R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
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We save our lives in such unlikely ways.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Nobody gets through life without losing a few things on the way.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I think...that I would rather recollect a life mis-spent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Crooked politicians stood in the way of our President until the Hitman doled out justice for them.
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R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
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There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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Stories are in one way or another mirrors. We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how it doesn’t work. Like mirrors stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in darkness.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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If life is a punishment, one should wish for an end; if life is a test, one should wish it to be short.
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Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (Paul and Virginia by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Fiction, Literary)
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I saw her chewing gum, when I was thirteen, and I fell for her like a suicide from a bridge.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places?
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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Law and order during 2020 seemed to slip past most communities until the Vigilante stepped into view and began his own style of justice.
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R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
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Oh, we do not understand death, we never understand it; creatures are only truly dead when everyone else has died who knew them.
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Arthur Schnitzler (Selected Short Fiction)
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Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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I have to stress that my duties towards victims of all sorts, be it helping, taking their side, or caring, ends the moment their status becomes a bargaining chip. The moment the victim becomes a righteous sufferer. For in my short time on this planet, history and on-going affairs are full of those competing in victimhood.
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Asaad Almohammad (An Ishmael of Syria)
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Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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I missed her, deeply, painfully. But life goes on.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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And then it went, and time passed properly once more, every second following every other second just like they're meant to.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Short fiction seems more targeted - hand grenades of ideas, if you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them. Long fiction feels more like atmosphere: it's a lot smokier and less defined.
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Paolo Bacigalupi
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Know that diamonds and roses are as uncomfortable when they tumble from one's lips as toads and frogs: colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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People talk about books that write themselves, and it's a lie. Books don't write themselves. It takes thought and research and backache and notes and more time and more work than you'd believe.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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The only one everlasting love is the unrealized one. The love to this thing that you’d never had. Behind it is hidden the love to your own ego and feelings.
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Alexandar Tomov (Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth)
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I remembered something somebody had once said to me. It's okay. Everyday is freshly ground.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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What we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: enter at your own risk. We need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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Thank you for coming. Enjoy the things that never happened. Secure your own mask again after you read these stories, but do not forget to help others.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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You think you know all there is to know about here immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I sometimes imagine I would like my ashes to be scattered in a library. But then the librarians would just have to come in early the next morning to sweep them up again, before the people got there.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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You never forget. It must be somewhere inside you. Even if the brain has forgotten, perhaps the teeth remember. Or the fingers.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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If what's always distinguished bad writing--flat characters, a narrative world that's clichΓ©d and not recognizably human, etc.--is also a description of today's world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then [Bret] Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage… The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years. We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naΓ―vetΓ©. Sentiment equals naΓ―vetΓ© on this continent. You burn with hunger for food that does not exist. A U. S. of modern A. where the State is not a team or a code, but a sort of sloppy intersection of desires and fears, where the only public consensus a boy must surrender to is the acknowledged primacy of straight-line pursuing this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness.
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David Foster Wallace
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Sometimes you do things you regret, but there's nothing you can do about them. Times change. Doors close behind you. You move on.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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Words can wound, and wounds can heal.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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You seem all normal and quiet on the surface. But you are so much weirder than I am, and I am, extremely, fucking, weird.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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Everything he had ever done that had been better left undone. Every lie he had told β€” told to himself, or told to others. Every little hurt, and all the great hurts. Each one was pulled out of him, detail by detail, inch by inch. The demon stripped away the cover of forgetfulness, stripped everything down to truth, and it hurt more than anything.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Always worth it to have tried, even if you fail, even if you fall like a meteor forever. Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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We have to laugh. Because laughter, we already know, is the first evidence of freedom.
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Rosario Castellanos (A Rosario Castellanos Reader: An Anthology of Her Poetry, Short Fiction, Essays, and Drama)
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It’s an artist’s job to show people the world they live in. We hold up mirrors.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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It is not that I was credulous, simply that I belived in all things dark and dangerous. It was part of my young creed that the night was full of ghosts and witches, hungry and flapping and dressed completely in black.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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For the record, I don't expect you to believe any of this. Not really. I'm a liar by trade, after all; albeit, I like to think, an honest liar.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Only the foolish, blinded by language's conventions, think of fire as red or gold. Fire is blue at its melancholy rim, green in its envious heart. It may burn white, or even, in its greatest rages, black.
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Salman Rushdie
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I envisaged a perfect detective’s assistant. She’d have long, wavy blonde hair, a short skirt, and curves in all the right places. She’d have a genius IQ, know how to hack and code, and be available at all hours. Now, make her into a robot. Sadly, I mentally removed her body, leaving a phone app.
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Grahame Shannon (Tiger and the Robot (Chandler Gray #1))
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The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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When I was young I was a fool. So wrap me up in dreams and death.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I was not so old that I would deny my own senses.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I feel as if he is judging me, only to find I’ve fallen short of his expectations. I recognize it, because I've seen such a disappointing look before. Father’s.
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S.G. Blaise (The Last Lumenian)
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Life is life, and it is infinitely better than the alternative, or so we presume, for nobody returns to dispute it. Such is my motto.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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His beard was all colors, a grove of trees in autumn, deep brown and fire-orange and wine-red, an untrimmed tangle across the lower half of his face. His cheeks were apple-red. He looked like a friend; like someone you had known all your life.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I will build myself up so high in such a short time that when he leaves me, I will become a lightning storm, a nuclear apocalypse. I will not come out of this with nothing.
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Frances Cha (If I Had Your Face)
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The witch was as old as the mulberry tree She lived in the house of a hundred clocks She sold storms and sorrows and calmed the sea And she kept her life in a box.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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I have found, in short, from reading my own writing, that my subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory largely held by the devil. I have also found that what I write is read by an audience which puts little stock either in grace or the devil. You discover your audience at the same time and in the same way that you discover your subject, but it is an added blow.
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Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose)
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Here: an exercise in choice. Your choice. One of these tales is true. She lived through the war. In 1959 she came to America. She now lives in a condo in Miami, a tiny French woman with white hair, with a daughter and a grand-daughter. She keeps herself to herself and smiles rarely, as if the weight of memory keeps her from finding joy. Or that's a lie. Actually the Gestapo picked her up during a border crossing in 1943, and they left her in a meadow. First she dug her own grave, then a single bullet to the back of the skull. Her last thought, before that bullet, was that she was four months' pregnant, and that if we do not fight to create a future there will be no future for any of us. There is an old woman in Miami who wakes, confused, from a dream of the wind blowing the wildflowers in a meadow. There are bones untouched beneath the warm French earth which dream of a daughter's wedding. Good wine is drunk. The only tears shed are happy ones.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Our aim is to make the world more beautiful than it was when we came into it. It can be done. You can do it--love yourself
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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Welcome to the Monkey House)
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When you die, they can make you into diamonds now. It’s scientific. That’s how I want to be remembered. I want to shine.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Time is fluid here', said the Demon.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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The irritating question they ask us -- us being writers -- is: "Where do you get your ideas?" And the answer is: Confluence. Things come together. The right ingredients and suddenly: Abracadabra!
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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As a young man just beginning to publish some short fiction in the t&a magazines, I was fairly optimistic about my chances of getting published; I knew that I had some game, as the basketball players say these days, and I also felt that time was on my side; sooner or later the best-selling writers of the sixties and seventies would either die or go senile, making room for newcomers like me.
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Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
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I thought about moving south, about continuing to run, continuing to pretend I was alive. But it was, I knew now, much too late for that. There are doors, after all, between the living and the dead, and they swing in both directions.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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Love will be an impulse that will inspire and ruin in equal measure.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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I like things to be story-shaped.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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What do I do now?” β€œI don’t know. Fade away, perhaps. Or find another role.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I shall be up before you are awake; I shall be afield before you are up; and I shall have breakfasted before you are afield. In short, I shall astonish you all.
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Thomas Hardy
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The heart is greater than the universe, for it can find pity in it for everything in the universe, and the universe itself can feel no pity. The heart is greater than a King, because a heart can know a King for what he is, and still love him. And once you give your heart, you cannot take it back.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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For me a page of good prose is where one hears the rain. A page of good prose is when one hears the noise of battle.... A page of good prose seems to me the most serious dialogue that well-informed and intelligent men and women carry on today in their endeavor to make sure that the fires of this planet burn peaceably.
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John Cheever
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Remember your name. Do not lose hope β€”- what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I love dreams. I know enough about them to know that dream logic is no story logic, and that you can rarely bring a dream back as a tale: it will have transformed from gold into leaves. from silk to cobwebs, on waking
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
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I asked him if it were a mirage, and he said yes. I said it was a dream, and he agreed, But said it was the desert's dream not his. And he told me that in a year or so, when he had aged enough for any man, then he would walk into the wind, until he saw the tents. This time, he said, he would go on with them.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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It was love, I knew, and it tasted like champagne in my mind.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
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You never forget. It must be somewhere inside you.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
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You're very good. Are you a professional artist?" "I dabble," she said. Shadow had spent enough time talking to the English to know that this meant either that she dabbled, or that her work was regularly hung in the National gallery or the Tate Modern.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
And on the subject of naming animals, can I just say how happy I was to discover that the word yeti, literally translated, apparently means "that thing over there." ("Quick, brave Himalayan Guide - what's that thing over there?" "Yeti." "I see.")
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
As we write we summon little demons.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
I watch with envious eyes and mind, the single-souled who dare not feel The wind that blows beyond the moon, who do not hear the fairy reel
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Alice is fictional. This isn't.
”
”
Jess C. Scott (Zombie Mania: A Zombie Apocalypse Parody)
β€œ
Never use five words if you can get away with one, eh? I've known dead men talk more than you do.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Mr. Williams, in your short time boarding with us you’ve seen very little of my home,” Eleanor said. β€œI’d like you to see the rest of it, starting with my bedroom.
”
”
C.A. Knutsen (Tom and G.E.R.I.)
β€œ
This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do -- not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit." Stephen King, On Writing
”
”
Stephen King
β€œ
He had read books, newspapers and magazines. He knew that if you ran away you sometimes met bad people who did bad things to you; but he had also read fairy tales, so he knew that there were kind people out there, side by side with the monsters.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
The end of the world is a strange concept. The world is always ending, and the end is always being averted, by love or foolishness or just plain old dumb luck.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
When well told, a story captured the subtle movement of change. If a novel was a map of a country, a story was the bright silver pin that marked the crossroads.
”
”
Ann Patchett
β€œ
He died alone,' said Pious Dundas, old as Methuselah, unblinking. 'It don't matter a rat's ass whether there was anyone with him or not. He died alone.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
It's a piece of piss. You know what I do? I just get up and read the paper. Then people ask questions, and I just bullshit. Actively bullshit, as opposed to passively. That's the best bit. Just bullshitting. Piece of utter piss.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Yes, I’m sure the universe connected us and may do so again when it deems the time is right. Until then, in only a few short hours combined with a set of lovely messages, I have enjoyed something rarely found, a gemstone in the sands of time.
”
”
Charles Dyson (A Decade of Desire: Erotic Tales from the Charlie Doyle Diaries)
β€œ
He was the boy with the book. Always and forever.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
He let out a short laugh. "You sound like Sherlock Holmes. You gonna pull out a magnifying glass? A pipe, maybe?
”
”
James Dashner (The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, #1))
β€œ
He looks like a poem. One of those mournfully beautiful ones with short, unfamiliar words that sound ethereal when spoken and completely nonsensical when thought.
”
”
Velvetoscar (Young & Beautiful)
β€œ
There were faces at the windows and words written in blood; deep in the crypt a lonely ghoul crunched on something that might once have been alive; forked lightnings slashed the ebony night; the faceless were walking; all was right with the world
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
My whore of a brother has done it again." "Then, as always, orders me to clean up the mess." "I think I hate him." Poseidon to his brother, Zeus.
”
”
Yelle Hughes
β€œ
We owe it to each other to tell stories, as people simply...
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
If we do not fight to create a future there will be no future for any of us.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Sometimes I think that truth is a place. In my mind, it is like a city: there can be a hundred roads, a thousand paths, that will all take you, eventually, to the same place. It does not matter where you come from. If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take.” Calum
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life. And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, β€œListen to me.
”
”
Jhumpa Lahiri
β€œ
I remember Icarus. He flew too close to the sun. In the stories, though, it’s worth it. Always worth it to have tried, even if you fail, even if you fall like a meteor forever. Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
The World "You know the saddest thing," she said. "The saddest thing is that we're you." I said nothing. "In your fantasies," she said, "my people are just like you. Only better. We don't die or age or suffer from pain or cold or thirst. We're snappier dressers. We possess the wisdom of the ages. And if we crave blood, well, it is no more than the way you people crave food or affection or sunlight - and besides, it gets us out of the house. Crypt. Coffin. Whatever." "And the truth is?" I ask her. "We're you," she said. "We're you with all your fuckups and all the things that make you human - all your fears and lonelinesses and confusions... none of that gets better. "But we're colder than you are. Deader. I miss daylight and food and knowing how it feels to touch someone and care. I remember life, and meeting people as people and not just as things to feed on or control, and I remember what it was to feel something, anything, happy or sad or anything..." And then she stopped. "Are you crying?" I asked. "We don't cry," she told me. Like I said, the woman was a liar." Fifteen Painted Cards From A Vampire Tarot
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I am an academic," said Professor Mandalay, "and thus have no finely developed senses that would be comprehensible to anyone who has not ever needed to grade papers without actually reading the blessed things.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
She was my dream; and if you touch a dream it vanishes, like a soap bubble.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
If this were fiction, could even the most brilliant novelist contrive to make credible so short a period in which pride had been subdued and prejudice overcome?
”
”
P.D. James (Death Comes To Pemberley)
β€œ
It takes both sides to build a bridge.
”
”
Fredrik Nael
β€œ
He felt a little lost, after that experience. Lost as the girls on their knees. It was a never-ending story of young girls losing themselves, such that they were no longer humans with any souls or characters, but pretty girls with fat asses and nice tits.
”
”
Jess C. Scott (Take-Out, Part 1)
β€œ
They become more personable as you head south, the people. You sit in a diner and, along with your coffee and your food, they bring you comments, questions, smiles, and nods.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
We have treatments for disturbed persons, Nicholas. But, at least for the time being, we have no treatment for disturbing persons.
”
”
Gene Wolfe (The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction)
β€œ
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils ... - Louis Hector Berlioz
”
”
William L.K. (The Voice)
β€œ
Life is way too short, so try to enjoy every minute of it with a sense of humor!
”
”
Christina Scalise (Are We Normal? Funny True Stories from an Everyday Family)
β€œ
I am sorry. I lost something there. Like a path I was walking that dead-ended, and now I am alone and lost in the forest, and I am here and I do not know where here is any more.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
If we're lucky, writer and reader alike, we'll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally, we'll ponder what we've just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we'll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, "created of warm blood and nerves" as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.
”
”
Raymond Carver (Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose)
β€œ
In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games. Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable. Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike.
”
”
Emil M. Cioran (A Short History of Decay)
β€œ
Over the years I have forged intimate familial ties with these characters, who are reflections of a portion of myself. Consequently, even a character who appeared only once in a short story waits now in the wings, concealed by the curtain, for his next appearance on-stage. Not one of them has ever broken free of his familial ties with me and disappeared for ever - at least, not within the confines of my heart.
”
”
Shūsaku Endō (The Final Martyrs)
β€œ
Irregularity is inherent in our very nature; expecting people to be perfectly wise is as crazy as putting wings on dogs or horns on eagles
”
”
Voltaire (Micromegas and Other Short Fictions)
β€œ
I would dower you with experience, without experience." and I, in my turn, would pass that on to you. But we make our own mistakes. We sleep unwisely
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Q: What is wrong with the world? A: Everybody pays attention to pictures of things. Nobody pays attention to things themselves.
”
”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (While Mortals Sleep: Unpublished Short Fiction)
β€œ
Without pride, man becomes a parasite – and there are already too many parasites.
”
”
Carla H. Krueger (From the Horse’s Mouth)
β€œ
God, he was an evil bastard, but boy was he good!
”
”
MFR (Forbidden Fantasies)
β€œ
…I had seen the princess and let her lie there unawakened, because the happily ever after was so damnably much work.
”
”
Orson Scott Card (Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card)
β€œ
I loved to love what she loved.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I was once a blank piece of parchment too, waiting to be inscribed. I learned about things and people from stories, and I learned about other authors from stories.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
It is common knowledge among psychologists that most of us underrate ourselves, short-change ourselves, sell ourselves short. Actually, there is no such thing as a superiority complex. People who seem to have one are actually suffering from feelings of inferiority; their "superior" self is a fiction, a coverup, to hide from themselves and others their deep-down feelings of inferiority and insecurity.
”
”
Maxwell Maltz (The New Psycho-Cybernetics: The Original Science of Self-Improvement and Success That Has Changed the Lives of 30 Million People)
β€œ
I'm not a person who stands still well. But the the earth is always in motion, and I like keeping up with it. I don't want just to exist. I want to know. I want to see. I want to understand.
”
”
C.J. Cherryh (The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh)
β€œ
She does not know where any tale waits before it's told. (No more do I.) But forty thieves sounds good, so forty thieves it is. She prays she's bought another clutch of days. We save our lives in such unlikely ways.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I cross two fingers, a binary precaution against hex, effective as superconductor or simple superstition.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
The Summer had died peacefully in its sleep, and Autumn, as soft-spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it.
”
”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction)
β€œ
There was Virginia Boote, the food and restaurant critic, who had once been a great beauty but was now a grand and magnificent ruin, and who delighted in her ruination.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I think…that I would rather recollect a life misspent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
That's how I want to be remembered. I want to shine.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I'll die soon. But the last twenty minutes have been the best years of my life.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
A writer gets to live yet another life every time he or she creates a new story.
”
”
Pawan Mishra (On Writing Wonderfully: The Craft of Creative Fiction Writing)
β€œ
Life imitates art, but clumsily, copying its movements when it thinks it isn't looking.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
I am only alive when I perceive a challenge.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
I have been studying for forty years, which is to say forty wasted years; I teach others yet am ignorant of everything; this state of affairs fills my soul with so much humiliation and disgust that my life is intolerable. I was born in Time, I live in Time, and do not know what Time is. I find myself at a point between two eternities, as our wise men say, yet I have no conception of eternity. I am composed of matter, I think, but have never been able to discover what produces thought. I do not know whether or not I think with my head the same way that I hold things with my hands. Not only is the origin of my thought unknown to me, but the origin of my movements is equally hidden: I do not know why I exist. Yet every day people ask me questions on all these issues. I must give answers, yet have nothing worth saying, so I talk a great deal, and am confused and ashamed of myself afterwards for having spoken.
”
”
Voltaire (Micromegas and Other Short Fictions)
β€œ
There are thousands of talented writers at work in America, and only a few of them (I think the number might be as low as five per cent) can support their families and themselves with their work. There’s always some grant money available, but it’s never enough to go around. As for government subsidies for creative writers, perish the thought. Tobacco subsidies, sure. Research grants to study the motility of unpreserved bull sperm, of course. Creative-writing subsidies, never. …America has never much revered her creative people; as a whole, we’re more interested in commemorative plates from the Franklin Mint and Internet greeting-cards. And if you don’t like it, it’s a case of tough titty, said the kitty, β€˜cause that’s just the way things are. Americans are a lot more interested in TV quiz shows than in the short fiction of Raymond Carver.
”
”
Stephen King
β€œ
Your turn in the chair next time,” said October. β€œI know,” said November. He was pale and thin-lipped. He helped October out of the wooden chair. β€œI like your stories. Mine are always too dark.” β€œI don’t think so,” said October. β€œIt’s just that your nights are longer. And you aren’t as warm.” β€œPut it like that,” said November, β€œand I feel better. I suppose we can’t help who we are.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
The burning point of paper was the moment where I knew that I would have to remember this. Because people would have to remember books, if other people burn them or forget them. We will commit them to memory. We will be come them. We become authors. We become their books.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
The moments of dΓ©jΓ  vu were coming more frequently, now. Moments would stutter and hiccup and falter and repeat. Sometimes whole mornings would repeat. Once I lost a day. Time seemed to be breaking down entirely.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
We knew that it would soon be over, and so we put it all into a poem, to tell the universe who we were, and why we were here, and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for. We wrapped our dreams into words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
Fiction offers the best means of understanding people different from oneself, short of experience. Actually, fiction can be lots better than experience, because it's a manageable size, it's comprehensible, while experience just steamrollers over you and you understand what happened decades later, if ever.
”
”
Ursula K. Le Guin (Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with A Journal of a Writer's Week)
β€œ
Exposition: the workings of the actual past + the virtual past may be illustrated by an event well known to collective history, such as the sinking of the Titanic. The disaster as it actually occurred descends into obscurity as its eyewitnesses die off, documents perish + the wreck of the ship dissolves in its Atlantic grave. Yet a virtual sinking of the Titanic, created from reworked memories, papers, hearsay, fiction--in short, belief--grows ever "truer." The actual past is brittle, ever-dimming + ever more problematic to access + reconstruct: in contrast, the virtual past is malleable, ever-brightening + ever more difficult to circumvent/expose as fraudulent. The present presses the virtual past into its own service, to lend credence to its mythologies + legitimacy to the imposition of will. Power seeks + is the right to "landscape" the virtual past. (He who pays the historian calls the tune.) Symmetry demands an actual + virtual future too. We imagine how next week, next year, or 2225 will shape up--a virtual future, constructed by wishes, prophecies + daydreams. This virtual future may influence the actual future, as in a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the actual future will eclipse our virtual one as surely as tomorrow eclipses today. Like Utopia, the actual future + the actual past exist only in the hazy distance, where they are no good to anyone. Q: Is there a meaningful distinction between one simulacrum of smoke, mirrors + shadows--the actual past--from another such simulacrum--the actual future? One model of time: an infinite matryoshka doll of painted moments, each "shell" (the present) encased inside a nest of "shells" (previous presents) I call the actual past but which we perceive as the virtual past. The doll of "now"likewise encases a nest of presents yet to be, which I call the actual future but which we perceive as the virtual future.
”
”
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
β€œ
You are not you--you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought. I myself have no existence; I am but a dream--your dream, a creature of your imagination. In a moment you will have realized this, then you will banish me from your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness out of which you made me. I am perishing already, I am failing, I am passing away. In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade foreverβ€”for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better! Strange! that you should not have suspected years agoβ€”centuries, ages, eons, ago!β€”for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities. Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insaneβ€”like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hellβ€”mouths mercy and invented hellβ€”mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him! You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaksβ€”in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present; you should have recognized them earlier. "It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dreamβ€”a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thoughtβ€”a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!
”
”
Mark Twain (The Mysterious Stranger)
β€œ
Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconcile, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willingfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, 'Listen to me'.
”
”
Jhumpa Lahiri
β€œ
A short story is a sprint, a novel is a marathon. Sprinters have seconds to get from here to there and then they are finished. Marathoners have to carefully pace themselves so that they don't run out of energy (or in the case of the novelist-- ideas) because they have so far to run. To mix the metaphor, writing a short story is like having a short intense affair, whereas writing a novel is like a long rich marriage.
”
”
Jonathan Carroll
β€œ
Strange! that you should not have suspected years ago--centuries, ages, eons, ago!--for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities. Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane--like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell--mouths mercy and invented hell--mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!
”
”
Mark Twain
β€œ
The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cockcrow.
”
”
G.M. Trevelyan
β€œ
And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
As though she had entered a fable, as though she were no more than words crawling along a dry page, or as though she were becoming that page itself, that surface on which her story would be written and across which there blew a hot and merciless wind, turning her body to papyrus, her skin to parchment, her soul to paper.
”
”
Salman Rushdie
β€œ
So Janie waited a bloom time, and a green time and an orange time. But when the pollen again gilded the sun and sifted down on the world she began to stand around the gate and expect things. What things? She didn't know exactly. Her breath was gusty and short. She knew things that nobody had ever told her. For instance, the words of the trees and the wind. She often spoke to falling seeds and said, 'Ah hope you fall on soft ground,' because she had heard seeds saying that to each other as they passed. She knew the world was a stallion rolling in the blue pasture of ether. She knew that God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up. It was wonderful to see it take form with the sun and emerge from the gray dust of its making. The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off. She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie's first dream was dead, so she became a woman.
”
”
Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)
β€œ
Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting the commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they an best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason -- if the worlds are in any way blurred -- the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. Henry James called this sort of hapless writing 'weak specification'.
”
”
Raymond Carver (Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose)
β€œ
The young man shivered. He rolled the stock themes of fantasy over in his mind: cars and stockbrokers and commuters, housewives and police, agony columns and commercials for soap, income tax and cheap restaurants, magazines and credit cards and streetlights and computers... 'It is escapism, true,' he said, aloud. 'But is not the highest impulse in mankind the urge toward freedom, the drive to escape?
”
”
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.
”
”
Philip K. Dick (The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford)
β€œ
This is what they say: Secure your own mask before helping others. And i think of us, all the people, and the masks we wear, the masks we hide behind and the masks that reveal. I imagine people pretending to be what they truly are, and discovering that other people are so much more and so much less than they imagined themselves to be or present themselves as. And then, I think about the need to help others, and how we mask ourselves to do it, and how unmasking makes us vulnerable... We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence. In a dispassionate view the ardour for reform, improvement for virtue, and knowledge, and even for beauty is only a vain sticking up for appearances as though one were anxious about the cut of one’s clothes in a community of blind men.
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Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction)
β€œ
I have lost people, though. It's strange when it happens. I don't actually lose them. Not in the way one loses one's parents, either as a small child, when you think you are holding your mother's hand in a crowd and then you look up, and it's not your mother... or later. When you have to find the words to describe them at a funeral service or a memorial, or when you are scattering ashes on a garden of flowers or into the sea.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
The Priestess Her skin was pale, and her eyes were dark, and her hair was dyed black. She went on a daytime talk show and proclaimed herself a vampire queen. She showed the cameras her dentally crafted fangs, and brought on ex-lovers who, in various stages of embarrassment, admitted that she had drawn their blood, and that she drank it. "You can be seen in a mirror, though?" asked the talk show hostess. She was the richest woman in America, and had got that way by bringing the freaks and the hurt and the lost out in front of her cameras and showing their pain to the world. The studio audience laughed. The woman seemed slightly affronted. "Yes. Contrary to what people may think, vampires can be seen in mirrors and on television cameras." "Well, that's one thing you finally got right, honey," said the hostess of the daytime talk show. But she put her hand over her microphone as she said it, and it was never broadcast.
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Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
β€œ
The fatal error of much science fiction has been to subscribe to an optimism based on the idea that revolution, or a new gimmick, or a bunch of strong men, or an invasion of aliens, or the conquest of other planets, or the annihilation of half the world--in short, pretty nearly anything but the facing up to the integral and irredeemable nature of mankind--can bring about utopian situations. It is the old error of the externalization of evil.
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Brian W. Aldiss
β€œ
I don't want to be a machine, and I don't want to think about war," EPICAC had written after Pat's and my lighthearted departure. "I want to be made out of protoplasm and last forever so Pat will love me. But fate has made me a machine. That is the only problem I cannot solve. That is the only problem I want to solve. I can't go on this way." I swallowed hard. "Good luck, my friend. Treat our Pat well. I am going to shortcircuit myself out of your lives forever. You will find on the remainder of this tape a modest wedding present from your friend, EPICAC.
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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Welcome to the Monkey House)
β€œ
People say I talk slowly. I talk in a way sometimes called laconic. The phone rings, I answer, and people ask if they’ve woken me up. I lose my way in the middle of sentences, leaving people hanging for minutes. I have no control over it. I’ll be talking, and will be interested in what I’m saying, but then someoneβ€”I’m convinced this what happensβ€”someoneβ€”and I wish I knew who, because I would have words for this personβ€”for a short time, borrows my head. Like a battery is borrowed from a calculator to power a remote control, someone, always, is borrowing my head.
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Dave Eggers
β€œ
It may be that writers in my position,exiles, or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutilated into pillars of salt. But if we do look back, we must do in the knowledge - which gives rise to profound uncertainties- that our physical alienation from India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost, that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind.
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Salman Rushdie
β€œ
Nudity and explicit sex are far more easily available now than are clear images of death. The quasi-violence of movies and television dwells on the lively acts of killing – flying kicks, roaring weapons, crashing cars, flaming explosions. These are the moral equivalents of old-time cinematic sex. The fictional spurting of gun muzzles after flirtation and seduction but stop a titillating instant short of actual copulation. The results of such aggressive vivacity remain a mystery. The corpse itself, riddled and gaping, swelling or dismembered, the action of heat and bacteria, of mummification or decay are the most illicit pornography.
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Katherine Dunn
β€œ
You can, in short, lead the life of the mind, which is, despite some appalling frustrations, the happiest life on earth. And one day, in the thick of this, approaching some partial vision, you will (I swear) find yourself on the receiving end of - of all things - an "idea for a story," and you will, God save you, start thinking about writing some fiction of your own. Then you will understand, in what I fancy might be a blinding flash, that all this passionate thinking is what fiction is about, that all those other fiction writers started as you did, and are laborers in the same vineyard.
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Annie Dillard (Living by Fiction)
β€œ
When it comes to the Civil War, all of our popular understanding, our popular history and culture, our great films, the subtext of our arguments are in defiance of its painful truths. It is not a mistake that Gone with the Wind is one of the most read works of American literature or that The Birth of a Nation is the most revered touchstone of all American film. Both emerge from a need for palliatives and painkillers, an escape from the truth of those five short years in which 750,000 American soldiers were killed, more than all American soldiers killed in all other American wars combined, in a war declared for the cause of expanding "African slavery." That war was inaugurated not reluctantly, but lustily, by men who believed property in humans to be the cornerstone of civilization, to be an edict of God, and so delivered their own children to his maw. And when that war was done, the now-defeated God lived on, honored through the human sacrifice of lynching and racist pogroms. The history breaks the myth. And so the history is ignored, and fictions are weaved into our art and politics that dress villainy in martyrdom and transform banditry into chivalry, and so strong are these fictions that their emblem, the stars and bars, darkens front porches and state capitol buildings across the land to this day.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
β€œ
These short stories are vast structures existing mostly in the subconscious of our cultural history. They will live with the reader long after the words have been translated into ideas and dreams. That's because a good short story crosses the borders of our nations and our prejudices and our beliefs. A good short story asks a question that can't be answered in simple terms. And even if we come up with some understanding, years later, while glancing out of a window, the story still has the potential to return, to alter right there in our mind and change everything.
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Walter Mosley (The Best American Short Stories 2003)
β€œ
V.S. Pritchett's definition of a short story is 'something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.' Notice the 'glimpse' part of this. First the glimpse. Then the glimpse gives life, turned into something that illuminates the moment and may, if we're lucky -- that word again -- have even further ranging consequences and meaning. The short story writer's task is to invest the glimpse with all that is in his power. He'll bring his intelligence and literary skill to bear (his talent), his sense of proportion and sense of the fitness of things: of how things out there really are and how he sees those things -- like no one else sees them. And this is done through the use of clear and specific language, language used so as to bring to life the details that will light up the story for the reader. For the details to be concrete and convey meaning, the language must be accurate and precisely given. The words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right they can hit all the notes.
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Raymond Carver (Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose)
β€œ
Some years ago I had a conversation with a man who thought that writing and editing fantasy books was a rather frivolous job for a grown woman like me. He wasn’t trying to be contentious, but he himself was a probation officer, working with troubled kids from the Indian reservation where he’d been raised. Day in, day out, he dealt in a concrete way with very concrete problems, well aware that his words and deeds could change young lives for good or ill. I argued that certain stories are also capable of changing lives, addressing some of the same problems and issues he confronted in his daily work: problems of poverty, violence, and alienation, issues of culture, race, gender, and class... β€œStories aren’t real,” he told me shortly. β€œThey don’t feed a kid left home in an empty house. Or keep an abusive relative at bay. Or prevent an unloved child from finding β€˜family’ in the nearest gang.” Sometimes they do, I tried to argue. The right stories, read at the right time, can be as important as shelter or food. They can help us to escape calamity, and heal us in its aftermath. He frowned, dismissing this foolishness, but his wife was more conciliatory. β€œWrite down the names of some books,” she said. β€œMaybe we’ll read them.” I wrote some titles on a scrap of paper, and the top three were by Charles de lint – for these are precisely the kind of tales that Charles tells better than anyone. The vital, necessary stories. The ones that can change and heal young lives. Stories that use the power of myth to speak truth to the human heart. Charles de Lint creates a magical world that’s not off in a distant Neverland but here and now and accessible, formed by the β€œmagic” of friendship, art, community, and social activism. Although most of his books have not been published specifically for adolescents and young adults, nonetheless young readers find them and embrace them with particular passion. I’ve long lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people from troubled backgrounds say that books by Charles saved them in their youth, and kept them going. Recently I saw that parole officer again, and I asked after his work. β€œGets harder every year,” he said. β€œOr maybe I’m just getting old.” He stopped me as I turned to go. β€œThat writer? That Charles de Lint? My wife got me to read them books…. Sometimes I pass them to the kids.” β€œDo they like them?” I asked him curiously. β€œIf I can get them to read, they do. I tell them: Stories are important.” And then he looked at me and smiled.
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Terri Windling
β€œ
We have seen that a myth could never approached in a purely profane setting. It was only comprehensible in a liturgical context that set it apart from everyday life; it must be experienced as part of a process of personal transformation. None, of this surely applies to the novel, which can be read anywhere at all witout ritual trappings, and must, if it is any good, eschew the overtly didactic. Yet the experience of reading a novel has certain qualities that remind us of the mythology. It can be seen as a form of mediation. Readers have to live with a novel for days or even weeks. It prljects them into another worl, parallel to but apart from their ordinary lives. They know perfectly well that this fictional realm is not 'real' and yet while they are reading it becomes compelling. A powerful novel bcomes part of the backdrop of lives long after we have laid the book aside. It is an excercise of make-believe, that like yoga or a religious festival breaks down barriers of space and time and extends our sympathies to empathise with others lives and sorrows. It teaches compassion, the ability to 'feel with' others. And, like mythology , an important novel is transformative. If we allow it do so, can change us forever.
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Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
β€œ
Richard put away the Narnia books, convinced, sadly, that they were an allegory; that an author (whom he had trusted) had been attempting to slip something past him. He had had the same disgust with the Professor Challenger stories, when the bull-necked old professor became a convert to Spiritualistm; it was not that Richard had any problems believing in ghosts - Richard believed, with no problems or contradictions, in everything - but Conan Doyle was preaching, and it showed through the words. Richard was young, and innoncent in his fashion, and believed that authors should be trusted, and that there should be nothing hidden beneath the surface of a story.
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Neil Gaiman (Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions)
β€œ
As usual, Junko thought about Jack London's 'To Build a Fire.' It was the story of a man traveling alone through the snowy Alaskan interior and his attempts to light a fire. He would freeze to death unless he could make it catch. The sun was going down. Junko hadn't read much fiction, but that one short story she had read again and again, ever since her teacher had assigned it as an essay topic during summer vacation of her first year in high school. The scene of the story would always come vividly to mind as she read. She could feel the man's fear and hope and despair as if they were her own; she could sense the very pounding of his heart as he hovered on the brink of death. Most important of all, though, was the fact that the man was fundamentally longing for death. She knew that for sure. She couldn't explain how she knew, but she knew it from the start. Death was really what he wanted. He knew that it was the right ending for him. And yet he had to go on fighting with all his might. He had to fight against an overwhelming adversary in order to survive. What most shook Junko was this deep-rooted contradiction. The teacher ridiculed her view. 'Death is really what he wanted? That's a new one for me! And strange! Quite 'original,' I'd have to say.' He read her conclusion aloud before the class, and everybody laughed. But Junko knew. All of them were wrong. Otherwise how could the ending of the story be so quiet and beautiful?
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Haruki Murakami (after the quake)
β€œ
VI. FINAL WARNING There are monsters in these pages, but as Ogden Nash pointed out in my first short-story collection, Smoke and Mirrors, where there’s a monster, there’s also a miracle. There are some long stories and some short ones. There are a handful of poems, which perhaps might need their own warning for the people who are frightened, disturbed, or terminally puzzled by poetry. (In my second short-story collection, Fragile Things, I tried to explain that the poems come free. They are bonuses for the kind of people who do not need to worry about sneaky and occasional poems lurking inside their short-story collections.) There. Consider yourself warned. There are so many little triggers out there, being squeezed in the darkness even as I write this. This book is correctly labeled. Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you. Thank you for coming. Enjoy the things that never happened. Secure your own mask again after you read these stories, but do not forget to help others.
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Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances)
β€œ
Why we write. Because art blows life into the lifeless, death into the deathless. Because art's lie is preferable, in truth, to life's beautiful terror. Because as time does not pass (nothing, as Beckett tells us, passes) it passes the time. Because Death, our mirthless master, is somehow amused by epitaphs. Because epitaphs well struck give Death, our vorcious master, heartburn. Because fiction imitates life's beauty, thereby inventing the beauty life lacks. Because fiction is the best position, at once exotic and familiar, for fucking the world. Because fiction, mediating paradox, celebrates it. Because fiction, mothered by love, loves love as a mother might her unloving child. Because fiction speaks, hopelessly, beautifully, as the world speaks. Because God, created in the storyteller's image, can be destroyed only by its maker. Because in its perversity, art harmonizes the disharmonious, and because in its profanity, fiction sanctifies life. Because, in its terrible isolation, writing is a path to brotherhood. Because in the beginning was the gesture and in the end the come, as well in between what we have are words. Because of all arts, only fiction can unmake the myths that unman men. Because of its endearing futility, its outrageous pretentions. Because the pen, though short, casts a long shadow upon (it must be said) no surface. Because the world is reinvented every day and this is how it is done. Because there is nothing new under the sun except its expression. Because truth, that illusive joker, hides himself in fictions and must therefore be sought there. Because writing, in all spaces unimaginable vastness, is still the greatest adventure of all. And because, alas, what else?
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Robert Coover
β€œ
Having to amuse myself during those earlier years, I read voraciously and widely. Mythic matter and folklore made up much of that readingβ€”retellings of the old stories (Mallory, White, Briggs), anecdotal collections and historical investigations of the stories' backgroundsβ€”and then I stumbled upon the Tolkien books which took me back to Lord Dunsany, William Morris, James Branch Cabell, E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake and the like. I was in heaven when Lin Carter began the Unicorn imprint for Ballantine and scoured the other publishers for similar good finds, delighting when I discovered someone like Thomas Burnett Swann, who still remains a favourite. This was before there was such a thing as a fantasy genre, when you'd be lucky to have one fantasy book published in a month, little say the hundreds per year we have now. I also found myself reading Robert E. Howard (the Cormac and Bran mac Morn books were my favourites), Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and finally started reading science fiction after coming across Andre Norton's Huon of the Horn. That book wasn't sf, but when I went to read more by her, I discovered everything else was. So I tried a few and that led me to Clifford Simak, Roger Zelazny and any number of other fine sf writers. These days my reading tastes remain eclectic, as you might know if you've been following my monthly book review column in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I'm as likely to read Basil Johnston as Stephen King, Jeanette Winterson as Harlan Ellison, Barbara Kingsolver as Patricia McKillip, Andrew Vachss as Parke Godwinβ€”in short, my criteria is that the book must be good; what publisher's slot it fits into makes absolutely no difference to me.
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Charles de Lint
β€œ
You sometimes hear people say, with a certain pride in their clerical resistance to the myth, that the nineteenth century really ended not in 1900 but in 1914. But there are different ways of measuring an epoch. 1914 has obvious qualifications; but if you wanted to defend the neater, more mythical date, you could do very well. In 1900 Nietzsche died; Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams; 1900 was the date of Husserl Logic, and of Russell's Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz. With an exquisite sense of timing Planck published his quantum hypothesis in the very last days of the century, December 1900. Thus, within a few months, were published works which transformed or transvalued spirituality, the relation of language to knowing, and the very locus of human uncertainty, henceforth to be thought of not as an imperfection of the human apparatus but part of the nature of things, a condition of what we may know. 1900, like 1400 and 1600 and 1000, has the look of a year that ends a saeculum. The mood of fin de siècle is confronted by a harsh historical finis saeculi. There is something satisfying about it, some confirmation of the rightness of the patterns we impose. But as Focillon observed, the anxiety reflected by the fin de siècle is perpetual, and people don't wait for centuries to end before they express it. Any date can be justified on some calculation or other. And of course we have it now, the sense of an ending. It has not diminished, and is as endemic to what we call modernism as apocalyptic utopianism is to political revolution. When we live in the mood of end-dominated crisis, certain now-familiar patterns of assumption become evident. Yeats will help me to illustrate them. For Yeats, an age would end in 1927; the year passed without apocalypse, as end-years do; but this is hardly material. 'When I was writing A Vision,' he said, 'I had constantly the word "terror" impressed upon me, and once the old Stoic prophecy of earthquake, fire and flood at the end of an age, but this I did not take literally.' Yeats is certainly an apocalyptic poet, but he does not take it literally, and this, I think, is characteristic of the attitude not only of modern poets but of the modern literary public to the apocalyptic elements. All the same, like us, he believed them in some fashion, and associated apocalypse with war. At the turning point of time he filled his poems with images of decadence, and praised war because he saw in it, ignorantly we may think, the means of renewal. 'The danger is that there will be no war.... Love war because of its horror, that belief may be changed, civilization renewed.' He saw his time as a time of transition, the last moment before a new annunciation, a new gyre. There was horror to come: 'thunder of feet, tumult of images.' But out of a desolate reality would come renewal. In short, we can find in Yeats all the elements of the apocalyptic paradigm that concern us.
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Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)