Short Novel Quotes

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

Women want love to be a novel. Men, a short story.
Daphne du Maurier
A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.
Lorrie Moore
One can acquire everything in solitude except character.
Stendhal (Five Short Novels of Stendhal)
It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language
Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)
I'm going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.
Jack Kerouac
I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.
Arthur Schopenhauer (Essays and Aphorisms)
The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. The analogy he is looking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
would you reach in the drawer there and give me my purse. A girl doesn't read this sort of thing without her lipstick.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
I'm very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what's yours until you've thrown it away.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful voice. Like a short, torrid love affair.
Nina George (The Little Paris Bookshop)
What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it;nothing very bad could happen to you there.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, Judges and Justices all fall prey to the Hitman.
R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
Why are we worn out? Why do we, who start out so passionate, brave, noble, believing, become totally bankrupt by the age of thirty or thirty-five? Why is it that one is extinguished by consumption, another puts a bullet in his head, a third seeks oblivion in vodka, cards, a fourth, in order to stifle fear and anguish, cynically tramples underfoot the portrait of his pure, beautiful youth? Why is it that, once fallen, we do not try to rise, and, having lost one thing, we do not seek another? Why?
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
The Slice and Dice Fanatic uses his sexual skills to lure his victims into his realm of fun.
R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
Crooked politicians stood in the way of our President until the Hitman doled out justice for them.
R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
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.
Asaad Almohammad (An Ishmael of Syria)
Law and order during 2020 seemed to slip past most communities until the Vigilante stepped into view and began his own style of justice.
R.B. Le`Deach (My Graphic Bipolar Fantasies: & Other Short Stories)
Soon after the completion of his college course, his whole nature was kindled into one intense and passionate effervescence of romantic passion. His hour came,—the hour that comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,—that star that rises so often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it rose for him in vain. To drop the figure,—he saw and won the love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one of the northern states, and they were affianced. He returned south to make arrangements for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly, his letters were returned to him by mail, with a short note from her guardian, stating to him that ere this reached him the lady would be the wife of another. Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as many another has done, to fling the whole thing from his heart by one desperate effort. Too proud to supplicate or seek explanation, he threw himself at once into a whirl of fashionable society, and in a fortnight from the time of the fatal letter was the accepted lover of the reigning belle of the season; and as soon as arrangements could be made, he became the husband of a fine figure, a pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and, of course, everybody thought him a happy fellow. The married couple were enjoying their honeymoon, and entertaining a brilliant circle of friends in their splendid villa, near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was brought to him in that well-remembered writing. It was handed to him while he was in full tide of gay and successful conversation, in a whole room-full of company. He turned deadly pale when he saw the writing, but still preserved his composure, and finished the playful warfare of badinage which he was at the moment carrying on with a lady opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle. In his room,alone, he opened and read the letter, now worse than idle and useless to be read. It was from her, giving a long account of a persecution to which she had been exposed by her guardian's family, to lead her to unite herself with their son: and she related how, for a long time, his letters had ceased to arrive; how she had written time and again, till she became weary and doubtful; how her health had failed under her anxieties, and how, at last, she had discovered the whole fraud which had been practised on them both. The letter ended with expressions of hope and thankfulness, and professions of undying affection, which were more bitter than death to the unhappy young man. He wrote to her immediately: I have received yours,—but too late. I believed all I heard. I was desperate. I am married, and all is over. Only forget,—it is all that remains for either of us." And thus ended the whole romance and ideal of life for Augustine St. Clare. But the real remained,—the real, like the flat, bare, oozy tide-mud, when the blue sparkling wave, with all its company of gliding boats and white-winged ships, its music of oars and chiming waters, has gone down, and there it lies, flat, slimy, bare,—exceedingly real. Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies to us.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin)
They say, tell me what you've read and I'll tell you who you are.
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
It is not death that the very old tell me they fear. It is what happens short of death—losing their hearing, their memory, their best friends, their way of life. As Felix put it to me, “Old age is a continuous series of losses.” Philip Roth put it more bitterly in his novel Everyman: “Old age is not a battle. Old age is a massacre.
Atul Gawande (Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End)
If what's always distinguished bad writing--flat characters, a narrative world that's clichéd 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 naïveté. Sentiment equals naïveté 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.
David Foster Wallace
A decent human being is ashamed at being somebody's boss!
Arno Schmidt (Scenes from the Life of a Faun: A Short Novel)
Then, bidding farewell to The Knick-Knack, I went to collect the few personal belongings which, at that time, I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.
Colette (Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels)
This life is short, and you never know how many chapters you have left in your novel,Graham. Live each day as if it's the final page. Breathe each moment as if it's the final word. Be brave,my son. Be brave.
Brittainy C. Cherry (The Gravity of Us (Elements, #4))
Keep a diary, but don't just list all the things you did during the day. Pick one incident and write it up as a brief vignette. Give it color, include quotes and dialogue, shape it like a story with a beginning, middle and end—as if it were a short story or an episode in a novel. It's great practice. Do this while figuring out what you want to write a book about. The book may even emerge from within this running diary.
John Berendt
The door of the novel, like the door of the poem, also shuts. But not so fast, nor with such manic, unanswerable finality.
Sylvia Plath (Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts)
Anger gets you into trouble, ego keeps you in trouble.
Amit Kalantri (Wealth of Words)
My life is in these books. Read these and know my heart. We are not quire novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
It's a bore, but the answer is good things only happen to you if you're good. Good? Honest is more what I mean. Not lawtype honest--I'd rob a grave, I'd steal two-bits off a dead man's eyes if I thought it would contribute to the day's enjoyment--but unto-thyself-type honest. Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I'd rather have cancer than a dishonest heart. Which isn't being pious. Just practical. Cancer may cool you, but the other's sure to.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
The algorithms in his hard drive scrambled and his coding short-circuited. Like she’d downloaded a virus right into his system, he got feverishly hot.
Kelly Moran (Counterbalance)
I’ve been asking you to marry me since we met! What more do you want?
Chayada Welljaipet (Eternal Love)
But I know what I like.' She smiled, and et the cat drop to the floor. 'It's like Tiffany's,'she said. 'Not that I give a hoot about jewellery. Diamonds, yes. But it's tacky to wear diamonds before you're forty; and even that's risky.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
Cold love’s the loveliest love of all. So clear, so crisp, so empty. In short, so civilized.
Mervyn Peake (The Gormenghast Novels (Gormenghast, #1-3))
True obedience can only happen when you secretly think you know better, and you choose to bow your head. Anything short of that is just agreement, and any ninny-in-waiting can agree.
Philippa Gregory (The Constant Princess (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #6))
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)
How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, HOWEVER IMPROBABLE, must be the truth?
Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection (4 Novels, 56 Short Stories, and Exclusive Bonus Features))
I'm a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can't, and then tries the short story, which is the most demanding form after poetry. And, failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.
William Faulkner
We all dream dreams of unity, of purity; we all dream that there's an authoritative voice out there that will explain things, including ourselves. If it wasn't for our longing for these things, I doubt the novel or the short story would exist in its current form. I'm not going to say much more on the topic. Just remember: In dictatorships, only one person is really allowed to speak. And when I write a book or a story, I too am the only one speaking, no matter how I hide behind my characters.
Junot Díaz
I am going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.
Jack Kerouac
If a writer writes poems and short stories and novels, but nobody ever reads them, is she really a writer?
Jennifer Weiner
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
A novel is achieved with hard work, the short story with inspiration.
Isabel Allende (Paula)
The way his plump hand clutched at her hip seemed somehow improper; not morally, aesthetically.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
I was not going to Honolulu because I wanted to see life reduced to a short story. I was going to Honolulu because I wanted to see life expanded to a novel, and I still do.
Joan Didion (The White Album)
As adults we choose our own reading material. Depending on our moods and needs we might read the newspaper, a blockbuster novel, an academic article, a women's magazine, a comic, a children's book, or the latest book that just about everyone is reading. No one chastises us for our choice. No one says, 'That's too short for you to read.' No one says, 'That's too easy for you, put it back.' No one says 'You couldn't read that if you tried -- it's much too difficult.' Yet if we take a peek into classrooms, libraries, and bookshops we will notice that children's choices are often mocked, censured, and denied as valid by idiotic, interfering teachers, librarians, and parents. Choice is a personal matter that changes with experience, changes with mood, and changes with need. We should let it be.
Mem Fox (Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living)
I knew damn well I would never be a movie star. It's too hard; and if you are intelligent, it's too embarrassing. My complexes aren't inferior enough: being a movie star and having a big fat ego are supposed to go hand-in-hand; actually, it's essential not to have any ego at all. I don't mean I'd mind being rich and famous. That's very much on my schedule, and someday I'll try and get around to it; but if it happens, I'd like to have my ego, tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany's.
Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories)
If you don't like my book, write your own. If you don't think you can write a novel, that ought to tell you something. If you think you can, do. No excuses. If you still don't like my novel, find a book you do like. Life is too short to be miserable. If you do like my novels, I commend your good taste.
Rita Mae Brown (Southern Discomfort)
A short story I have written long ago would barge into my house in the middle of the night, shake me awake and shout, 'Hey,this is no time for sleeping! You can't forget me, there's still more to write!' Impelled by that voice, I would find myself writing a novel. In this sense, too, my short stories and novels connect inside me in a very natural, organic way.
Haruki Murakami
There are guys who grow up thinking they'll settle down some distant time in the future, and there are guys who are ready for marriage as soon as they meet the right person. The former bore me, mainly because they're pathetic; and the latter, quite frankly, are hard to find. But it's the serious ones I'm interested in, and it takes time to find a guy like that whom I'm equally interested in. I mean, if the relationship can't survive the long term, why on earth would it be worth my time and energy for the short term?
Nicholas Sparks (The Last Song)
If you tell me, I will leave you alone," I said. "And if you don't tell me, I am going to grab the nearest ghostwritten James Patterson romance novel and I am going to follow you through this store reading it out loud until you relent. Would you prefer me to read from Daphne's Three Tender Months with Harold or Cindy and John's House of Everlasting Love? I guarantee, your sanity and your indie street cred won't last a chapter. And they are very, very short chapters." Now I could see the fright beneath the defiance.
David Levithan (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1))
A novel is just a story that hasn't yet discovered a way to be brief.
George Saunders
But, good gracious, you've got to educate him first. You can't expect a boy to be vicious till he's been to a good school.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
Even so-called 'short novels' are pretty long and can take several hours to read, so make sure you stay hydrated. I like to keep an isotonic sports drink handy if I'm going to be reading for any longer than forty minutes. I'll also take regular breaks and make sure I'm wearing loose-fitting clothing.
Richard Ayoade (Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey)
Where do you live, where do we live where is our home? Under this tree, over the mountains, and beyond, the sky, a time-rider. Dancing colours! Life was more surrealistic, this short life than death, death was natural, not the other way round.--Mehreen Ahmed, Incandescence.
Mehreen Ahmed (Incandescence)
Yes?’ he asked, looking at me over the sheet. ‘I’m a writer temporarily down on my inspirations.’ ‘Oh, a writer, eh?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘No, I’m not.’ ‘What do you write?’ ‘Short stories mostly. And I’m halfway through a novel.’ ‘A novel, eh?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What’s the name of it?’ ‘”The Leaky Faucet of My Doom.”‘ ‘Oh, I like that. What’s it about?’ ‘Everything.’ ‘Everything? You mean, for instance, it’s about cancer?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘How about my wife?’ ‘She’s in there too.
Charles Bukowski (Factotum)
If it is written and read with serious attention, a novel, like a myth or any great work of art, can become an initiation that helps us to make a painful rite of passage from one phase of life, one state of mind, to another. A novel, like a myth, teaches us to see the world differently; it shows us how to look into our own hearts and to see our world from a perspective that goes beyond our own self-interest.
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
But even more than her diary, Shimamura was surprised at her statement that she had carefully cataloged every novel and short story she had read since she was fifteen or sixteen. The record already filled ten notebooks. "You write down your criticisms, do you?" "I could never do anything like that. I just write down the author and the characters and how they are related to each other. That is about all." "But what good does it do?" "None at all." "A waste of effort." "A complete waste of effort," she answered brightly, as though the admission meant little to her. She gazed solemnly at Shimamura, however. A complete waste of effort. For some reason Shimamura wanted to stress the point. But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him. He knew well enough that for her it was in fact no waste of effort, but somehow the final determination that it had the effect of distilling and purifying the woman's existence.
Yasunari Kawabata (Snow Country)
The whole point is that writing has a pattern and life hasn't. Life is so untidy. Art is so short and life so long. It is not possible to have perfection in life but it is possible to have perfection in a novel.
Elizabeth Taylor
There would be more genuine rejoicing at the discovery of a complete new novel by Jane Austen than any other literary discovery, short of a new major play by Shakespeare.
Margaret Drabble
Don’t try to write a novel. Write short stories and then figure out how to connect them.
Ray Bradbury
If professional religious leaders cannot instruct us in mythological lore, our artists and creative writers can perhaps step into this priestly role and bring fresh insight to our lost and damaged role.
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
As writers we live life twice, like a cow that eats its food once and then regurgitates it to chew and digest it again. We have a second chance at biting into our experience and examining it. ...This is our life and it's not going to last forever. There isn't time to talk about someday writing that short story or poem or novel. Slow down now, touch what is around you, and out of care and compassion for each moment and detail, put pen to paper and begin to write.
Natalie Goldberg
I tell writers not to think about writing short stories or novels. Just write one good scene. And then a novel becomes a bunch of good scenes stacked on top of each other.
Joe Hill
When one has nothing left to one but memories, one guards and dusts them with especial care. 
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
I've always longed to turn the last page of a romantic novel but it seems my life is destined to remain a book of short stories.
Michael Faudet (Bitter Sweet Love)
This life is short, and you never know how many chapters you have left in your novel,
Brittainy C. Cherry (The Gravity of Us (Elements, #4))
Share and Enjoy' is the company motto of the hugely successful Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Division, which now covers the major land masses of three medium-sized planets and is the only part of the Corporation to have shown a consistent profit in recent years. The motto stands-- or rather stood-- in three mile high illuminated letters near the Complaints Department spaceport on Eadrax. Unfortunately its weight was such that shortly after it was erected, the ground beneath the letters caved in and they dropped for nearly half their length through the offices of many talented young Complaints executives-- now deceased. The protruding upper halves of the letters now appear, in the local language, to read "Go stick your head in a pig," and are no longer illuminated, except at times of special celebration.
Douglas Adams (The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1-5))
A psychiatrist would diagnose Jolene—and possibly every member of Cade Chase’s team—as having a benign form of psychosis. Benign, because she had not experienced a psychotic break. She was far short of being psychotic, but only because her brain and soul allowed her to manage her dissociative behavior well. The unconscious guides such people.
John M. Vermillion (Awful Reckoning: A Cade Chase and Simon Pack Novel)
If ever he had harboured a conscience in his tough narrow breast he had by now dug out and flung away the awkward thing - flung it so far away that were he ever to need it again he could never find it. High-shouldered to a degree little short of malformation, slender and adroit of limb and frame, his eyes close-set and the colour of dried blood, he is climbing the spiral staircase of the soul of Gormenghast, bound for some pinnacle of the itching fancy - some wild, invulnerable eyrie best known to himself; where he can watch the world spread out below him, and shake exultantly his clotted wings
Mervyn Peake (The Gormenghast Novels (Gormenghast, #1-3))
It goes without saying that a fine short poem can have the resonance and depth of an entire novel.
James Wright (Selected Poems)
Well, nothing ever ends well for crazy people in small towns.,
Molly D. Campbell (Characters in Search of a Novel)
[Anger] gave him the soul to keep fighting no matter how many times the world seemed bent on destroying him. He may be a broken young man, but he would never be a defeated one
Faye Fite (Skies of Dripping Gold)
I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
He looked like every glossy frat boy in every nerd movie ever made, like every popular town boy who’d ever looked right through her in high school, like every rotten rich kid who’d ever belonged where she hadn’t. My mama warned me about guys like you. He turned to her as if he’d heard her and took off his sunglasses, and she went down the steps to meet him, wiping her sweaty palms on her dust-smeared khaki shorts. “Hi, I’m Sophie Dempsey,” she said, flashing the Dempsey gotta-love-me grin as she held out her hot, grimy hand, and after a moment he took it. His hand was clean and cool and dry, and her heart pounded harder as she looked into his remote, gray eyes. “Hello, Sophie Dempsey,” her worst nightmare said. “Welcome to Temptation.
Jennifer Crusie (Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys, #1))
I write short stories because I am one. I wish I was a novel. Breaths away from midnight, I know my final chapter is close. I look up at Valentino, wondering what life could’ve offered if I had more pages in me.
Adam Silvera (The First to Die at the End)
In a short story by Chekhov or a novel by Balzac he found mysteries which, so far as he was aware, did not exist in any spy thriller. 35
Amos Oz (To Know a Woman)
Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair.
Nina George (The Little Paris Bookshop)
I guess that isn't the right word," she said. She was used to apologizing for her use of language. She had been encouraged to do a lot of that in school. Most white people in Midland City were insecure when they spoke, so they kept their sentences short and their words simple, in order to keep embarrassing mistakes to a minimum. Dwayne certainly did that. Patty certainly did that. This was because their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn't love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Breakfast of Champions)
technical debt’ that is not being paid down. It comes from taking shortcuts, which may make sense in the short-term. But like financial debt, the compounding interest costs grow over time. If an organization doesn’t pay down its technical debt, every calorie in the organization can be spent just paying interest, in the form of unplanned work.
Gene Kim (The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win)
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
With a novel, which takes perhaps years to write, the author is not the same man he was at the end of the book as he was at the beginning. It is not only that his characters have developed--he has developed with them, and this nearly always gives a sense of roughness to the work: a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov's story, The Lady with the Dog.
Graham Greene
addresses are given to us to conceal our whereabouts.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
it was decorated with Japanese fans and Chinese lanterns, which gave it a very Old English effect.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
Neither man was talkative and each was grateful to the other for not being talkative.  That is why from time to time they talked.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
Most of my favorite stories as a reader come in at this length. Short novels are all killer, no filler. They offer the economy of the short story but the depth of characterization we associate with longer works. Little novels aren’t leisurely, meandering journeys. They’re drag races. You put the pedal to the floor and run your narrative right off the edge of the cliff. Live fast and leave a pretty corpse is a shitty objective for a human being but a pretty good plan for a story.
Joe Hill (Strange Weather)
...a novel, like a myth or any great work of art, can become an initiation that helps us to make a painful rite of passage from one phase of life, one state of mind, to another. A novel, like a myth, teaches us to see the world differently; it shows us how to look into our own hearts and to see our world from a perspective that goes beyond our own self-interest.
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth / The Penelopiad / Weight / Dream Angus (I - IV))
Natalie decided she’d be a brunette today. Part of the fun of being a private eye? Dress up. She kept wigs in her bedroom: short brown hair, long red hair, black curls. There were times an investigator depended on a quick disguise, necessary to dig up details, save her life.
Nancy Mangano (Deadly Decisions - A Natalie North Novel)
I appreciate the scientific rigor with which you’ve approached this project, Anna,” said Christopher, who had gotten jam on his sleeve. “Though I don’t think I could manage to collect that many names and also pursue science. Much too time-consuming.” Anna laughed. “How many names would you want to collect, then?” Christopher tilted his head, a brief frown of concentration crossing his face, and did not reply. “I would only want one,” said Thomas. Cordelia thought of the delicate tracery of the compass rose on Thomas’s arm, and wondered if he had any special person in mind. “Too late for me to only have one,” declared Matthew airily. “At least I can hope for several names in a carefully but enthusiastically selected list.” “Nobody’s ever tried to seduce me at all,” Lucie announced in a brooding fashion. “There’s no need to look at me like that, James. I wouldn’t say yes, but I could immortalize the experience in my novel.” “It would be a very short novel, before we got hold of the blackguard and killed him,” said James. There was a chorus of laughter and argument. The afternoon sun was sinking in the sky, its rays catching the jeweled hilts of the knives in Anna’s mantelpiece. They cast shimmering rainbow patterns on the gold-and-green walls. The light illuminated Anna’s shabby-bright flat, making something in Cordelia’s heart ache. It was such a homey place, in a way that her big cold house in Kensington was not. “What about you, Cordelia?” said Lucie. “One,” said Cordelia. “That’s everyone’s dream, isn’t it, really? Instead of many who give you little pieces of themselves—one who gives you everything.” Anna laughed. “Searching for the one is what leads to all the misery in this world,” she said. “Searching for many is what leads to all the fun.
Cassandra Clare (Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1))
One word after another. That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it. So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.
Neil Gaiman
I am no novel-reader—I seldom look into novels—Do not imagine that I often read novels—It is really very well for a novel.” Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss—?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.
Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)
It was not a safe thing to lead Joe into temptation; he had no resistance to it at all.
John Steinbeck (The Short Novels of John Steinbeck)
The short story is not, as some believe, a lesser form of literature than the novel.
Andrew Barger (The Best Werewolf Short Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Werewolf Anthology)
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE UNHAPPY...SO LAUGH INSANELY, KISS SOFTLY, AND MAKE LOVE PASSIONATELY.....
Muffin (North Philly's Finest Part 1)
I think … the greater danger for most of us is not in aiming too high and falling short, but in aiming too low and hitting the mark.
Stephanie Storey (Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo)
Many of my better short stories are just the last chapters of novels I did not write.
Roger Zelazny
Curiously, there are many perfect short stories, but no perfect novels.
J.G. Ballard (The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1)
Like the piano player, I have memory in my fingertips. I watch words spill out creating worlds, inventing colors, bridging generations.
Jane Yolen (Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse)
You think you know this story. You do not.
Jane Yolen (Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse)
If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. The two processes complement each other, creating a complete landscape that I treasure. The green foliage of the trees casts a pleasant shade over the earth, and the wind rustles the leaves, which are sometimes dyed a brilliant gold. Meanwhile, in the garden, buds appear on the flowers, and colorful petals attract bees and butterflies, reminding us of the subtle transition from one season to the next.
Haruki Murakami (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)
Somethings worth having defy logic. They come with obstacles, challenges, battles and long periods of wandering in the dark. Your path won't make sense to your family or friends. People will weigh in with their life rules and fears, but in the end it is your life. That pull you feel is real and often your intuition. It nags at you everyday. Follow it for as far as it takes you because life is too short to dwell on indecision, while you forget to live. Take a chance because if you have a good heart God isn't going to abandon you. He will travel wherever you need to go, in order to find the missing pieces of your soul.
Shannon L. Alder
That’s what the mother of the gardener’s boy said,” remarked Teresa; “she wanted me to have it destroyed, but I pointed out to her that she had eleven children and I had only one elk. 
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
This life is short, and you never know how many chapters you have left in your novel, Graham. Live each day as if it’s the final page. Breathe each moment as if it’s the final word. Be brave, my son. Be brave.
Brittainy C. Cherry (The Gravity of Us (Elements, #4))
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.
Ray Bradbury
The novel wins by points, the short story by knockout.
Julio Cortázar
NOVEL, n. A short story padded
Ambrose Bierce (The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary)
Shut your eyes,” said Miss Tanner. “Oh no,” said Miranda, “for then I see worse things…
Katherine Anne Porter (Pale Horse, Pale Rider)
You keep out of my bed,” said Danny, for he knew that Joe Portagee had come to stay. The way he sat in a chair and crossed his knees had an appearance of permanence.
John Steinbeck (The Short Novels of John Steinbeck)
In short, the war got off to a pretty good start, with the help of chaos.
Gabriel Chevallier (Fear: A Novel of World War I)
Laurence was an artist-chap, just that and nothing more, though you might make it sound more important by calling him an animal painter;
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
What luck has gave you will probably leave you.
Amit Kalantri (Wealth of Words)
And since, through lack of vocation or from habit, [Julie] was prone to confuse pity with boredom, she felt herself practically a prisoner...
Colette (Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels)
what's the code for New Orleans? MSY? That doesn't make sense
Poppy Z. Brite (Second Line: Two Short Novels of Love and Cooking in New Orleans)
In spite of everything that proverbs may say, poverty keeps together more homes than it breaks up.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
novels certainly have their charms, but the most elegant creation in the prose universe is a short story. Master the short story and you’ll have mastered the world,
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
...when we condescend, when we act consistently with a sense of the character of people in general which demeans them, we impoverish them AND ourselves, and preclude our having a part in the creation of the highest wealth, the testimony to the mysterious beauty of life we all value in psalms and tragedies and epics and meditations, in short stories and novels.
Marilynne Robinson
There is something sad, dreamy, and in the highest degree poetic in a lonely grave ... You can hear its silence, and in this silence you sense the presence of the soul of the unknown person who lies under the cross. Is it good for this soul in the steppe? Does it languish
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
If a poem is concentrated, a closed fist, then a novel is relaxed and expansive, an open hand: it has roads, detours, destinations; a heart line, a head line; morals and money come into it. Where the fist excludes and stuns, the open hand can touch and encompass a great deal in its travels.
Sylvia Plath (Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts)
I imagine I should have told it to you before? I love you, Sejal.I wish for you to become my wife.Recently I’ve also opened a shop in North Dakota and thinking that, just maybe, you love me too.
Chayada Welljaipet (Eternal Love)
When you look for a long time into the deep sky, without taking your eyes away, your thoughts and soul merge for some reason in an awareness of loneliness. You begin to feel yourself irremediably alone, and all that you once considered close and dear becomes infinitely distant and devoid of value.
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
I don’t have a lot of time. I can give a poem a couple of lines, a short story a paragraph, and a novel a few pages, then if I can stop reading without a sense of loss, I do, and I go on to something else.
Flannery O'Connor
When strangers on a train or a plane ask what I do for a living, I say, "I kill people." This response makes for a short conversation. No eye contact and no sudden movement from my seat-mate. Only peace and quiet. Rare is the fellow passenger who asks why I do it. I suppose I got tired hanging out in a book all day waiting for a story to begin. I write the kind of novels I want to read. And why the theme of solving murders? Violent death is larger than life and it's the great equalizer. By law, every victim is entitled to a paladin and a chase, else life would be cheapened. And the real reason I do this? My brain is simply bent this way. There is nothing else I would rather do. This neatly chains into my theory of the writing life. If you scratch an artist, under the skin you will find a bum who cannot hold down a real job. Conversely, if you scratch a bum... but I have never done that. The heart of my theory has puritan roots: if you love what you do, you cannot call it honest work.
Carol O'Connell
I read more than I had in years-novels, short stories, three long nonfiction books about how we had stumbled into the Iraq mess (the short answer appeared to have W for a middle initial and a dick for a Vice President).
Stephen King (Duma Key)
We lived on 82nd Street and the Metropolitan Museum was my short cut to Central Park. I wrote: "I go into the museum and look at all the pictures on the walls. Instead of feeling my own insignificance I want to go straight home and paint." A great painting, or symphony, or play, doesn't diminish us, but enlarges us, and we, too, want to make our own cry of affirmation to the power of creation behind the universe. This surge of creativity has nothing to do with competition, or degree of talent. When I hear a superb pianist, I can't wait to get to my own piano, and I play about as well now as I did when I was ten. A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write. This response on the part of any artist is the need to make incarnate the new awareness we have been granted through the genius of someone else.
Madeleine L'Engle (A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1))
And you know once a man has fished, or watched the thrushes hovering in flocks over the village in the bright, cool, autumn days, he can never really be a townsman, and to the day of his death he will be drawn to the country.
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
You’re still young, probably you haven’t lost sight of anything in this world that you can never forget, that’s so dear to you you’re aware of its absence all the time. Probably the sky a hundred yards or so above your head is still nothing more than sky to you. But all that means is that the storehouse happens to be empty at the moment.
Kenzaburō Ōe (Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: 4 Short Novels)
how unfortunate that we should have had that very cold weather at a time when coal was so dear! So distressing for the poor.” “Someone has observed that Providence is always on the side of the big dividends,” remarked Reginald.
Saki (The Complete Saki: 144 Collected Novels and Short Stories)
So it is in life... In search of the truth, people make two steps forward and one step back. Sufferings, mistakes, and the tedium of life throw them back, but the thirst for truth and a stubborn will drive them on and on. And who knows? Maybe they’ll row their way to the real truth...
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
the moral seemed to be that one should always have Latin, or at least a good classical poetry quotation, to depend upon in great or desperate moments.
Katherine Anne Porter (Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels)
The Russian loves recalling life, but he does not love living.
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
To leave town, and the struggle and the swim of life, and go and hide yourself in a farmhouse is not life -- it is egoism, laziness; it is a kind of monasticism, but monasticism without action. A man needs, not six feet of land, not a farm, but the whole earth, all Nature, where in full liberty he can display all the properties and qualities of the free spirit.
Anton Chekhov (The Complete Short Novels)
If you love somebody then tell them how you feel dont be scared of their reaction or rejection life is too short. you should take a chance and if things dont work out as you plan dont worry cuz life moves on and true love will be waiting for you again.
Atul Purohit (Love Vs Destiny. . .the strange game of life!)
If you avoid the killer diseases and keep the degenerative ones under control with sensible diet and exercise and whatever chemotherapy you need to stay in balance, you can live nearly forever.
Wallace Stegner (New Short Novels 2)
The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. The analogy he is looking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works. He has read enough to know there are no collections where each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you’re lucky, a standout. And in the end, people only really remember the standouts anyway, and they don’t remember those for very long. No, not very long.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
It is the form that allows a writer the greatest opportunity to explore human experience...For that reason, reading a novel is potentially a significant act. Because there are so many varieties of human experience, so many kinds of interaction between humans, and so many ways of creating patterns in the novel that can’t be created in a short story, a play, a poem or a movie. The novel, simply, offers more opportunities for a reader to understand the world better, including the world of artistic creation. That sounds pretty grand, but I think it’s true.
Don DeLillo
Home—what other home existed for one who belonged nowhere, but the stormy one in the heart of another for a short time? Was not this the reason why love, when it struck the hearts of the homeless, shook and possessed them so completely—because they had nothing else? Had he not for this very reason tried to avoid it? And had it not followed him and overtaken him and struck him down? It was harder to rise again on the slippery ice of a foreign land than on familiar and accustomed ground.
Erich Maria Remarque (Arch of Triumph: A Novel of a Man Without a Country)
One of the things I tell the writers with whom I work is, man, when you finish a draft of a poem, or short story or novel, you make sure you go out and celebrate all night long because whether the world ever notices or not, whether you get it published or not, you did something most people never do: You started, stuck with, and finished a creative work. And that is a triumph. That is something to celebrate. All the stuff that I'm talking about is really from the point of view of trying to create art—and I don't mean to sound highfalutin when I bring the word "art" in. All I mean is, a work that seeks to illuminate truth in whatever way possible.
Andre Dubus III
True writers know that writing is not something they feel required to do, or to make a living they must do, it is quite frankly like breathing. Some can breathe often and fluently, some short breaths, some a long exhale and for many of us it is the patient steady breathing surrounding life.
Milissa R. Bailey
Books in the series should be read in the following order.   Moon Wreck: First Contact (Short Story) Moon Wreck: Revelations (Short Story) Moon Wreck: Secrets of Ceres (Short Story) The Slaver Wars: Alien Contact (Novel) Moon Wreck: Fleet Academy (Novel) The Slaver Wars: First Strike (Novel)
Raymond L. Weil (First Strike (The Slaver Wars, #4))
You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?” “The famous scientific criminal, as famous among crooks as– –” “My blushes, Watson!” Holmes murmured in a deprecating voice. “I was about to say, as he is unknown to the public.” “A touch! A distinct touch!” cried Holmes. “You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humour, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 4 Novels & 56 Short Stories)
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.
Karen Armstrong (A Short History of Myth)
It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
John Steinbeck (The Short Novels of John Steinbeck)
I have not read most of the big 19th — century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.
Teju Cole
American students, we are told, are falling behind in reading and math; on test after test, they score below most European students (at the level of Lithuania), and the solution, rather than seeking to engage their curiosity, has been testing and more testing— a dry and brittle method that produces lackluster results. And so resources are pulled from the “soft” fields that are not being tested. Music teachers are being fired or not replaced; art classes are quietly dropped from the curriculum; history is simplified and moralized, with little expectation that any facts will be learned or retained; and instead of reading short stories, poems and novels, students are invited to read train schedules and EPA reports whose jargon could put even the most committed environmentalist to sleep.
Azar Nafisi (The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books)
Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst-- Heaven bless the mark!
Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Graphic Novel))
I think it is the art of the glimpse. If the novel is like an intricate Renaissance painting, the short story is an impressionist painting. It should be an explosion of truth. Its strength lies in what it leaves out just as much as what it puts in, if not more. It is concerned with the total exclusion of meaninglessness. Life, on the other hand, is meaningless most of the time. The novel imitates life, where the short story is bony, and cannot wander. It is essential art.
William Trevor
To all those whom seek the iron words of the community: if your book is good, it will stand on its own. Be it a short story, a novel, a novella, a chapter book, a poetry book, a chapbook, a manga or a graphic novel...it will seek reviews by itself. You need to do nothing with it. Do nothing but write. Give up review seeking and focus on writing, for that is what becomes you in the end.
L'Poni Baldwin
So online, I’m Bookworm Babe, or BB for short. Despite what my sister says about romance novels (she views them with a high level of disdain), I’ve always loved them. There’s simply nothing that beats getting lost in another version of reality. The heady rush of passion when two would-be lovers meet, the swirl of emotions in a fledgling relationship—I’m addicted to that shit. I lose sleep over
Claire Kingsley (Book Boyfriend (Book Boyfriends #1))
[Julie] had lived a great deal among lies, before plumping for a small life of her own, a sincere and restricted life from which all pretense, even in matters sensual, was banished. How many crazy decisions and allegiances to successive aspects fo the truth! Had she not, one day when her costume for a fancy dress had demanded short hair, cut off the great chestnut mane that fell below her waist when she let it down? 'I could have hired a wig,' she thought. 'I might also, at a pinch, have passed the rest of my life with Becker or Espivant. If it comes to that, I could also have gone on stirring puddings in a saucepan at Carneilhan. The things "one might have done" are, in fact, the things one could not do...
Colette (Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels)
Perhaps my favorite crone heroine of all time is Marian Leatherby, the deaf, toothless, ninety-two-year-old protagonist of The Hearing Trumpet, a novel written by Surrealist luminary Leonora Carrington. Marian sports a short gray beard that she finds “rather gallant,” and she has a dear geriatric friend named Carmella who states, “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.
Pam Grossman (Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power)
And he gave me a few of the Xeroxed sheets of paper lying on the table in front of him. As he passed them to me, his thumb brushed mine and I trembled from the touch. I had the sensation that our past and our future were in our fingers and that they had touched. And so, when I began to read the proffered pages, I at one moment lost the train of thought in the text and drowned it in my own feelings. In these seconds of absence and self-oblivion, centuries passed with every read but uncomprehended and unabsorbed line, and when, after a few moments, I came to and re-established contact with the text, I knew that the reader who returns from the open seas of his feelings is no longer the same reader who embarked on that sea only a short while ago. I gained and learned more by not reading than by reading those pages...
Milorad Pavić (Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel)
A lesson in bringing about true changes of mind and heart comes from a Japanese functionary. By day, he crunched numbers that showed his country was approaching imminent energy crisis and helped to craft policy. By night, he weaved a novel in which a bureaucrat-hero helps see the country through to new energy sources. When the crisis came faster than he expected, he actually put the novel away because he did not want to make the burden of his countrymen worse. When the short-term crisis passed, he published his novel. It's phenomenal and well-timed success fueled the vision that inspired difficult change and maintained a sense of urgency.
Daniel Yergin (The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World)
The novel, he was saying, was a flabby old whore. A flabby old whore! the older man said looking delighted. She was serviceable, roomy, warm and familiar, the younger was saying, but really a bit used up, really a bit too slack and loose. Slack and loose! the older said laughing. Whereas the short story, by comparison, was a nimble goddess, a slim nymph. Because so few people had mastered the short story she was still in very good shape. ...I idly wondered how many of the books in my house were fuckable and how good they'd be in bed.
Ali Smith (The First Person and Other Stories)
In general, we imagine rivers to be subject to a kind of dynamic equilibrium, largely stable geologic features, with processes like regional incision or subtle shifts in mountain building causing short- and medium-term variation around some slowly changing mean condition, but in fact it is far more common to see dramatic change over short periods, with long periods of stability between in what geologists refer to as 'dynamic metastable equilibrium.' It is the same with families, memory, the history of a person's life, what we believe to be true.
Katharine Haake (That Water, Those Rocks: (A Novel))
life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.
H.P. Lovecraft (The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft: 102 Horror Short Stories, Novels, Juvenelia, Collaborations and Ghost Writings)
Short Perfect Novels Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabel Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson Sula, by Toni Morrison The Shadow-Line, by Joseph Conrad The All of It, by Jeannette Haine Winter in the Blood, by James Welch Swimmer in the Secret Sea, by William Kotzwinkle The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald First Love, by Ivan Turgenev Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf Waiting for the Barbarians, by J. M. Coetzee Fire on the Mountain, by Anita Desai
Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
Ruskin says that anyone who expects perfection from a work of art knows nothing of works of art. This is an appealing sentence that, so far as I can see, is not true about a few pictures and statues and pieces of music, short stories and short poems. Whether or not you expect perfection from them, you get it; at least, there is nothing in them that you would want changed. But what Ruskin says is true about novels: anyone who expects perfection from even the greatest novel knows nothing of novels.
Randall Jarrell (No Other Book: Selected Essays)
Chester stood on the shore watching the waves. Some rose, broke and were subsumed by those that followed. Some danced, their white frothy tops rising and falling rhythmically like a ballerina’s white tutu and in their joy they made progress. Others lazily rolled in and fell short of any prize. Occasionally one roared and raced in as if to capture as much of the land as possible.
Anna Faversham (Immortality: This Is Probably a Novel)
and if a rainy morning deprived them of other enjoyments, they were still resolute in meeting in defiance of wet and dirt, and shut themselves up, to read novels together. Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel–writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding — joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine–hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens — there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. “I am no novel–reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel.” Such is the common cant. “And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.
Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey)
In short, she self-medicated with books. (By the way, as the author of this novel, and one who has herself always self-medicated with books, I cannot rightfully attest or deny whether this is a better way of dealing with 'real life' than any other. In fact, as a reader (all writers are just readers one step to the side), I'm not actually sure I believe in this 'real life'. I know it is a terrible betrayal to say this, but come on, aren't books - whisper it - quite a lot better in real life? In books, baddies get blown up or chopped up or sent to prison. In real life, they're your boss or your ex. In books, you get to know what happened. In real life, sometimes you don't get to know what happened ever. They're not even sure they've found Amelia Earhart. So. Books are absolutely the thing in my opinion, or as the old saying goes: whatever gets you through the night (which I should say is also books. Books get you through the night).)
Jenny Colgan (The Bookshop on the Shore (Kirrinfief #2))
There is one final point, the point that separates a true multivolume work from a short story, a novel, or a series. The ending of the final volume should leave the reader with the feeling that he has gone through the defining circumstances of Main Character's life. The leading character in a series can wander off into another book and a new adventure better even than this one. Main Character cannot, at the end of your multivolume work. (Or at least, it should seem so.) His life may continue, and in most cases it will. He may or may not live happily ever after. But the problems he will face in the future will not be as important to him or to us, nor the summers as golden.
Gene Wolfe (Shadows of the New Sun)
Mrs Loudon was even more successful than her husband thanks to a single work, Practical Instructions in Gardening for Ladies, published in 1841, which proved to be magnificently timely. It was the first book of any type ever to encourage women of elevated classes to get their hands dirty and even to take on a faint glow of perspiration. This was novel almost to the point of eroticism. Gardening for Ladies bravely insisted that women could manage gardening independent of male supervision if they simply observed a few sensible precautions – working steadily but not too vigorously, using only light tools, never standing on damp ground because of the unhealthful emanations that would rise up through their skirts.
Bill Bryson (At Home: A Short History of Private Life)
Now I pass up about twenty-five or thirty thousand of honest gain because I like being a detective, like the work. And liking work makes you want to do it as well as you can. Otherwise there’d be no sense to it. That’s the fix I am in. I don’t know anything else, don’t enjoy anything else, don’t want to know or enjoy anything else. You can’t weight that against any sum of money. Money’s good stuff. I haven’t anything against it.
Dashiell Hammett (The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels)
Stalin made one fatal error: he neglected to suppress the works of Tolstoy. [...] If you scoured the literature of the centuries of Christendom for the books that might most help an oppressed people in relation to our Lord and the Christian faith, you could find nothing better than the short stories and the later novels of Tolstoy. The efforts of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation, the Voice of America, and the Oversees Service of the BBC, all put together, wouldn't equal one single short story of Tolstoy in keeping alive in the hearts of human beings the knowledge of the love of God.
Malcolm Muggeridge (The End of Christendom)
As the wine went down in the bottles, patriotism arose in the three men. And when the wine was gone they went down the hill arm in arm for comradeship and safety, and they walked into Monterey. In front of an enlistment station they cheered loudly for America and dared Germany to do her worst. They howled menaces at the German Empire until the enlistment sergeant awakened and put on his uniform and came into the street to silence them. He remained to enlist them.
John Steinbeck (The Short Novels of John Steinbeck)
First take a play that you like and musicalize it. Then take a play that you like but you feel has flaws and try to improve them, and musicalize it,” Sondheim recalled him saying. “Then he said, ‘Take something that is not a play but that somebody else has written, a novel or a short story, so that you don’t have to invent the characters or plot, and musicalize that, make it into a play. Dramatize it. And then finally write an original, your own story, and dramatize that.
Meryle Secrest (Stephen Sondheim: A life)
... 'He's black, you see that! I thought he would be all along.' Harelip's voice trembled with excitement. 'He's a real black man, you see!' 'What are they going to do with him, shoot him?' 'Shoot him!' Harelip shouted, gasping with surprise. 'Shoot a real live black man!' Because he's the enemy,' I asserted without confidence. 'Enemy! You call him an enemy!' Harelip seized my shirt and railed at me hoarsely, spraying my face with saliva through his lip. 'He's a black man, he's no enemy!
Kenzaburō Ōe (Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: 4 Short Novels)
These are among the people I've tried to know twice, the second time in memory and language. Through them, myself. They are what I've become, in ways I don't understand but which I believe will accrue to a rounded truth, a second life for me as well as them. Cracking jokes in the mandatory American manner of people self-concious about death. This is the humor of violent surprise. How do you connect things? Learn their names. It was a strange conversation, full of hedged remarks and obscure undercurrents, perfect in its way. I was not a happy runner. I did it to stay interested in my body, to stay informed, and to set up clear lines of endeavor, a standard to meet, a limit to stay within. I was just enough of a puritan to think there must be some virtue in rigorous things, although I was careful not to overdo it. I never wore the clothes. the shorts, tank top, high socks. Just running shoes and a lightweight shirt and jeans. I ran disguised as an ordinary person. -When are you two going to have children? -We're our own children. In novels lately the only real love, the unconditional love I ever come across is what people feel for animals. Dolphins, bears, wolves, canaries. I would avoid people, stop drinking. There was a beggar with a Panasonic. This is what love comes down to, things that happen and what we say about them. But nothing mattered so much on this second reading as a number of spirited misspellings. I found these mangled words exhilarating. He'd made them new again, made me see how they worked, what they really were. They were ancient things, secret, reshapable.The only safety is in details. Hardship makes the world obscure. How else could men love themselves but in memory, knowing what they know? The world has become self-referring. You know this. This thing has seeped into the texture of the world. The world for thousands of years was our escape, was our refuge. Men hid from themselves in the world. We hid from God or death. The world was where we lived, the self was where we went mad and died. But now the world has made a self of its own.
Don DeLillo (The Names)
First, all I could see was this beautiful face, this beautiful girl's face; like a white, slightly luminous mask, swimming detachedly against enfolding darkness. As if a little private spotlight of its own was trained on it from below. It was so beautiful and so false, and I seemed to know it so well, and my heart was wrung. There was no danger yet, just this separate, shell-like face mask standing out. But there was danger somewhere around, I knew that already; and I knew that I couldn't escape it. I knew that everything [ was about to do, I had to do, I couldn't avoid doing. And yet, oh, I didn't want to do it. I wanted to turn and flee, I wanted to get out of wherever this was. ("Nightmare")
Cornell Woolrich (Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Mystery Novels)
Some literary recommendations: James Salter’s erotic masterpiece, A Sport and a Pastime; Anais Nin’s collections of short stories Delta of Venus and Little Birds; the erotic novels Emanuelle by Emanuelle Arsan and Story of O by Pauline Réage; Harold Brodkey’s sexual saga “Innocence”—perhaps the greatest depiction of a session of cunnilingus ever penned; novels by Jerzy Kosinski such as Passion Play and Cockpit; Henry Miller’s Under the Roofs of Paris and Quiet Days in Clichy; My Secret Life by Anonymous and The Pure and the Impure by Colette; Nancy Friday’s anthology of fantasies, Secret Garden (filled with the correspondence of real people’s fantasies); stories from The Mammoth Book of Erotica or one of the many erotic anthologies edited by Susie Bright. For those with a taste for poetry, try Les Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire or Flesh Unlimited by Guillaume Apollinaire. And for those who like comic books (kinky ones, that is), try the extra-hot works of writer/illustrator Eric Stanton, who specializes in female-domination fantasies.
Ian Kerner (She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman (Kerner))
Most white people in Midland City were insecure when they spoke, so they kept their sentences short and their words simple, in order to keep embarrassing mistakes to a minimum. Dwayne certainly did that. Patty certainly did that. This was because their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn’t love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe. The black people would not put up with this. They went on talking English every which way. They refused to read books they couldn’t understand—on the grounds they couldn’t understand them. They would ask such impudent questions as, “Whuffo I want to read no Tale of Two Cities? Whuffo?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Breakfast of Champions)
I’m not sure, though, what “for later” means anymore. Something changed in the world. Not too long ago, it changed, and we know it. We don’t know how to explain it yet, but I think we all can feel it, somewhere deep in our gut or in our brain circuits. We feel time differently. No one has quite been able to capture what is happening or say why. Perhaps it’s just that we sense an absence of future, because the present has become too overwhelming, so the future has become unimaginable. And without future, time feels like only an accumulation. An accumulation of months, days, natural disasters, television series, terrorist attacks, divorces, mass migrations, birthdays, photographs, sunrises. We haven’t understood the exact way we are now experiencing time. And maybe the boy’s frustration at not knowing what to take a picture of, or how to frame and focus the things he sees as we all sit inside the car, driving across this strange, beautiful, dark country, is simply a sign of how our ways of documenting the world have fallen short. Perhaps if we found a new way to document it, we might begin to understand this new way we experience space and time. Novels and movies don’t quite capture it; journalism doesn’t; photography, dance, painting, and theater don’t; molecular biology and quantum physics certainly don’t either. We haven’t understood how space and time exist now, how we really experience them. And until we find a way to document them, we will not understand them.
Valeria Luiselli (Lost Children Archive)
I continued working without a break, but in the middle of the third story...I felt myself tiring more than if I had been working on a novel. The same thing happened with the fourth. In fact, I did not have the energy to finish them. Now I know why: The effort involved in writing a short story is as intense as beginning a novel, where everything must be defined in the first paragraph: structure, tone, style, rhythm, length, and sometimes even the personality of a character. All the rest is the pleasure of writing, the most intimate, solitary pleasure one can imagine, and if the rest of one's life is not spent correcting the novel, it is because the same iron rigor needed to begin the book is required to end it. But a story has no beginning, no end: Either it works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, my own experience, and the experience of others, shows that most of the time it is better for one's health to start again in another direction, or toss the story in the wastebasket. Someone, I don't remember who, made the point with this comforting phrase: "Good writers are appreciated more for what they tear up than for what they publish.
Gabriel García Márquez (Strange Pilgrims: Twelve Stories)
The truth is, the person I've ben hating more than anyone is myself. It is so easy. So easy to look in the mirror at all my imperfections and think of all the ways I fall short of someone like Kristen. To struggle with geometry equations and underlying meanings in novels and know I'll never been smart the way Asha is. To realize how much I've screwed up and to obsess over all of the terrible ways I've wronged so many people. But. But even though I know my flaws are so many (many many many), and there are always ways I could be better, and I should never stop working for that - I also need to give myself a break. I can cut myself some slack sometimes. Because I'm a work in progress. Because nobody is perfect. At least I acknowledge the mistakes I've made, and am making. At least I'm trying. That means something, doesn't it? And just because I have room for improvement doesn't mean I'm worthless, or that i have nothing to offer to, like, the world.
Hannah Harrington (Speechless)
Be careful. People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things . . . well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds . . . Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true. —TERRY PRATCHETT THROUGH THE CHARACTER LORD VETINARI FROM HIS The Truth: a Novel of Discworld
David McRaney (You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself)
I’ve heard the stories about you, Kyoshi, and I know the things you’ve seen. What do you care if a single peasant lives or dies?” She crossed the distance between them and thrust a closed fan under his chin, stopping short of his throat. “I care more for his life than I do for yours right now,” she said, examining the growing whites of Zoryu’s eyes. “Let me make myself perfectly clear. You live on top of what I control. Your islands are surrounded by my waves. You fill your very lungs at my discretion. So if I hear any news about ‘Yun’ being executed, you will truly learn what it’s like when the spirits forsake you in the face of the elements.
F.C. Yee (Avatar: The Shadow of Kyoshi (The Kyoshi Novels, #2))
He had only smiled, condescendingly and therapeutically. "No, Leland, not you. You, and in fact quite a lot of your generation, have in some way been exiled from that particular sanctuary. It's become almost impossible for you to 'go mad' in the classical sense. At one time people conveniently 'went mad' and were never heard from again. Like a character in a romantic novel. But now"--And I think he even went so far as to yawn--"you are too hip to yourself on a psychological level. You are all too intimate with too many of the symptoms of insanity to be caught completely off your guard. Another thing: all of you have a talent for releasing frustration through clever fantasy. And you, you are the worst of the lot on that score. So... you may be neurotic as hell for the rest of your life, and miserable, maybe even do a short hitch at Bellvue and certainly good for another five years as a paying patient--but I'm afraid never completely out." He leaned back in his elegant Lounge-o-Chair. "Sorry to disappoint you but the best I can offer is plain old schizophrenia with delusional tendencies.
Ken Kesey (Sometimes a Great Notion)
Hello Everyone! My name is Dan Brown and in the course of writing my first novel, some other guy, claiming to be me, had the chutzpah to steal my name and publish a book about some code that apparently became quite popular, so much so in fact that copies of it, as well as subsequent novels by the same guy, now accost me every time I visit a brick & mortar or online bookstore these days. Long story short, when I published my first novel (Roll Over, Hitler!) this past month, I decided to use my full name – Daniel Bruce Brown – which would have pleased my parents to no end had they still been alive, but basically makes me unknown to anyone who knows me by Dan Brown, which has to be, I don’t know, at least ten or fifteen people. So, anyway, here I am, hoping to be “discovered” and, in the meantime, hoping to make some new friends among folks who love the written word as much as I do.
Daniel Bruce Brown
Things I Used to Get Hit For: Talking back. Being smart. Acting stupid. Not listening. Not answering the first time. Not doing what I’m told. Not doing it the second time I’m told. Running, jumping, yelling, laughing, falling down, skipping stairs, lying in the snow, rolling in the grass, playing in the dirt, walking in mud, not wiping my feet, not taking my shoes off. Sliding down the banister, acting like a wild Indian in the hallway. Making a mess and leaving it. Pissing my pants, just a little. Peeing the bed, hardly at all. Sleeping with a butter knife under my pillow. Shitting the bed because I was sick and it just ran out of me, but still my fault because I’m old enough to know better. Saying shit instead of crap or poop or number two. Not knowing better. Knowing something and doing it wrong anyway. Lying. Not confessing the truth even when I don’t know it. Telling white lies, even little ones, because fibbing isn’t fooling and not the least bit funny. Laughing at anything that’s not funny, especially cripples and retards. Covering up my white lies with more lies, black lies. Not coming the exact second I’m called. Getting out of bed too early, sometimes before the birds, and turning on the TV, which is one reason the picture tube died. Wearing out the cheap plastic hole on the channel selector by turning it so fast it sounds like a machine gun. Playing flip-and-catch with the TV’s volume button then losing it down the hole next to the radiator pipe. Vomiting. Gagging like I’m going to vomit. Saying puke instead of vomit. Throwing up anyplace but in the toilet or in a designated throw-up bucket. Using scissors on my hair. Cutting Kelly’s doll’s hair really short. Pinching Kelly. Punching Kelly even though she kicked me first. Tickling her too hard. Taking food without asking. Eating sugar from the sugar bowl. Not sharing. Not remembering to say please and thank you. Mumbling like an idiot. Using the emergency flashlight to read a comic book in bed because batteries don’t grow on trees. Splashing in puddles, even the puddles I don’t see until it’s too late. Giving my mother’s good rhinestone earrings to the teacher for Valentine’s Day. Splashing in the bathtub and getting the floor wet. Using the good towels. Leaving the good towels on the floor, though sometimes they fall all by themselves. Eating crackers in bed. Staining my shirt, tearing the knee in my pants, ruining my good clothes. Not changing into old clothes that don’t fit the minute I get home. Wasting food. Not eating everything on my plate. Hiding lumpy mashed potatoes and butternut squash and rubbery string beans or any food I don’t like under the vinyl seat cushions Mom bought for the wooden kitchen chairs. Leaving the butter dish out in summer and ruining the tablecloth. Making bubbles in my milk. Using a straw like a pee shooter. Throwing tooth picks at my sister. Wasting toothpicks and glue making junky little things that no one wants. School papers. Notes from the teacher. Report cards. Whispering in church. Sleeping in church. Notes from the assistant principal. Being late for anything. Walking out of Woolworth’s eating a candy bar I didn’t pay for. Riding my bike in the street. Leaving my bike out in the rain. Getting my bike stolen while visiting Grandpa Rudy at the hospital because I didn’t put a lock on it. Not washing my feet. Spitting. Getting a nosebleed in church. Embarrassing my mother in any way, anywhere, anytime, especially in public. Being a jerk. Acting shy. Being impolite. Forgetting what good manners are for. Being alive in all the wrong places with all the wrong people at all the wrong times.
Bob Thurber (Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel)
The only good thing for men therefore is to be diverted from thinking of what they are, either by some occupation which takes their mind off it, or by some novel and agreeable passion which keeps them busy, like gambling, hunting, some absorbing show, in short by what is called diversion...Thus men who are naturally conscious of what they are shun nothing so much as rest; they would do anything to be disturbed. It is wrong then to blame them; they are not wrong to want excitement - if they only wanted it for the sake of diversion. The trouble is that they want it as though, once they had the things they seek, they could not fail to be truly happy. That is what justifies calling their search a vain one. All this shows that neither the critics nor the criticized understand man's real nature. When men are reproached for pursuing so eagerly something that could never satisfy them, their proper answer, if they really thought about it, ought to be that they simply want a violent and vigorous occupation to take their minds off themselves, and that is why they choose some attractive object to entice them in ardent pursuit. Their opponents could find no answer to that.
Blaise Pascal (Pensées)
America's industrial success produced a roll call of financial magnificence: Rockefellers, Morgans, Astors, Mellons, Fricks, Carnegies, Goulds, du Ponts, Belmonts, Harrimans, Huntingtons, Vanderbilts, and many more based in dynastic wealth of essentially inexhaustible proportions. John D. Rockefeller made $1 billion a year, measured in today's money, and paid no income tax. No one did, for income tax did not yet exist in America. Congress tried to introduce an income tax of 2 percent on earnings of $4,000 in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Income tax wouldn't become a regular part of American Life until 1914. People would never be this rich again. Spending all this wealth became for many a more or less full-time occupation. A kind of desperate, vulgar edge became attached to almost everything they did. At one New York dinner party, guests found the table heaped with sand and at each place a little gold spade; upon a signal, they were invited to dig in and search for diamonds and other costly glitter buried within. At another party - possibly the most preposterous ever staged - several dozen horses with padded hooves were led into the ballroom of Sherry's, a vast and esteemed eating establishment, and tethered around the tables so that the guests, dressed as cowboys and cowgirls, could enjoy the novel and sublimely pointless pleasure of dining in a New York ballroom on horseback.
Bill Bryson (At Home: A Short History of Private Life)
The viewpoint character in each story is usually someone trapped in a living nightmare, but this doesn't guarantee that we and the protagonist are at one. In fact Woolrich often makes us pull away from the person at the center of the storm, splitting our reaction in two, stripping his protagonist of moral authority, denying us the luxury of unequivocal identification, drawing characters so psychologically warped and sometimes so despicable that a part of us wants to see them suffer. Woolrich also denies us the luxury of total disidentification with all sorts of sociopaths, especially those who wear badges. His Noir Cop tales are crammed with acts of police sadism, casually committed or at least endorsed by the detective protagonist. These monstrosities are explicitly condemned almost never and the moral outrage we feel has no internal support in the stories except the objective horror of what is shown, so that one might almost believe that a part of Woolrich wants us to enjoy the spectacles. If so, it's yet another instance of how his most powerful novels and stories are divided against themselves so as to evoke in us a divided response that mirrors his own self-division. ("Introduction")
Francis M. Nevins Jr. (Night and Fear: A Centenary Collection of Stories)
Now and then I am asked as to "what books a statesman should read," and my answer is, poetry and novels—including short stories under the head of novels. I don't mean that he should read only novels and modern poetry. If he cannot also enjoy the Hebrew prophets and the Greek dramatists, he should be sorry. He ought to read interesting books on history and government, and books of science and philosophy; and really good books on these subjects are as enthralling as any fiction ever written in prose or verse. Gibbon and Macaulay, Herodotus, Thucydides and Tacitus, the Heimskringla, Froissart, Joinville and Villehardouin, Parkman and Mahan, Mommsen and Ranke—why! there are scores and scores of solid histories, the best in the world, which are as absorbing as the best of all the novels, and of as permanent value. The same thing is true of Darwin and Huxley and Carlyle and Emerson, and parts of Kant, and of volumes like Sutherland's "Growth of the Moral Instinct," or Acton's Essays and Lounsbury's studies—here again I am not trying to class books together, or measure one by another, or enumerate one in a thousand of those worth reading, but just to indicate that any man or woman of some intelligence and some cultivation can in some line or other of serious thought, scientific or historical or philosophical or economic or governmental, find any number of books which are charming to read, and which in addition give that for which his or her soul hungers. I do not for a minute mean that the statesman ought not to read a great many different books of this character, just as every one else should read them. But, in the final event, the statesman, and the publicist, and the reformer, and the agitator for new things, and the upholder of what is good in old things, all need more than anything else to know human nature, to know the needs of the human soul; and they will find this nature and these needs set forth as nowhere else by the great imaginative writers, whether of prose or of poetry.
Theodore Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography)
Emma's mid-twenties had brought a second adolescence even more self-absorbed and doom-laden than the first one. 'Why don't you just come home, sweetheart?' her mum had said on the phone last night, using her quavering, concerned voice, as if her daughter had been abducted. 'Your room's still here. There's jobs at Debenhams' - and for the first time she had been tempted. Once, she thought she could conquer London. She had imagined a whirl of literary salons, political engagement, larky parties, bittersweet romances conducted on Thames embankments. She had intended to form a band, make short films, write novels, but two years on slim volume of verse was no fatter, and nothing really good had happened to her since she'd been baton-charged at Poll Tax Riots.
David Nicholls (One Day)
I’ve learned, from working with translators over the years, that the original novel is, in a way, a translation itself. It is not, of course, translated into another language but it is a translation from the images in the author’s mind to that which he is able to put down on paper. Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write. It’s one of the heartbreaks of writing fiction. You have, for months or years, been walking around with the idea of a novel in your mind, and in your mind it’s transcendent, it’s brilliantly comic and howlingly tragic, it contains everything you know, and everything you can imagine, about human life on the planet earth. It is vast and mysterious and awe-inspiring. It is a cathedral made of fire. But even if the book in question turns out fairly well, it’s never the book that you’d hoped to write. It’s smaller than the book you’d hoped to write. It is an object, a collection of sentences, and it does not remotely resemble a cathedral made of fire. It feels, in short, like a rather inept translation of a mythical great work. The translator, then, is simply moving the book another step along the translation continuum. The translator is translating a translation.
Michael Cunningham
The end of this short story could be a rather disturbing thing, if it came true. I hope you like it, and if you do, be sure to COMMENT and SHARE. Paradoxes of Destiny? Dani! My boy! Are you all right? Where are you? Have you hurt yourself? Are you all right? Daniiii! Why won’t you answer? It’s so cold and dark here. I can’t see a thing… It’s so silent. Dani? Can you hear me? I shouldn’t have looked at that text message while I was driving… I shouldn’t have done it! I'm so stupid sometimes! Son, are you all right?... We really wrecked the car when we rolled it! I can’t see or hear a thing… Am I in hospital? Am I dead…? Dani? Your silence is killing me… Are you all right?! I can see a glimmer of light. I feel trapped. Dani, are you there? I can’t move. It’s like I’m wrapped in this mossy green translucent plastic. I have to get out of here. The light is getting more and more intense. I think I can tear the wrapping that’s holding me in. I'm almost out. The light is blinding me. What a strange place. I've never seen anything like it. It doesn’t look like Earth. Am I dead? On another planet? Oh God, look at those hideous monsters! They’re so creepy and disgusting! They look like extraterrestrials. They’re aliens! I'm on another planet! I can’t believe it. I need to get the hell out here. Those monsters are going to devour me. I have to get away. I’m so scared. Am I floating? Am I flying? I’m going to go higher to try to escape. I can’t see the aliens anymore and the landscape looks less terrifying. I think I've made it. It’s very windy. Is that a highway? I think I can see some vehicles down there. Could they be the extraterrestrials’ transport? I’m going to go down a bit. I see people! Am I on Earth? Could this be a parallel universe? Where could Dani be? I shouldn’t have looked at that text message while I was driving. I shouldn’t… That tower down there looks a lot like the water tank in my town… It’s identical. But the water tank in my town doesn’t have that huge tower block next to it. It all looks very similar to my neighborhood, but it isn’t exactly the same: there are a lot of tower blocks here. There’s the river… and the factory. It’s definitely my neighborhood, but it looks kind of different. I must be in a parallel universe… It’s amazing that I can float. People don’t seem to notice my presence. Am I a ghost? I have to get back home and see if Dani’s there. God, I hope he’s safe and sound. Gabriela must be out of her mind with the crash. There’s my house! Home sweet home. And whose are those cars? The front of the house has been painted a different color… This is all so strange! There’s someone in the garden… Those trees I planted in the spring have really grown. Is… is that… Dani? Yes, yes! It’s Dani. But he looks so different… He looks older, he looks… like a big boy! What’s important is that he’s OK. I need to hug him tight and tell him how much I love him. Can he see me if I’m a ghost? I'll go up to him slowly so I don’t scare him. I need to hold him tight. He can’t see me, I won’t get any closer. He moved his head, I think he’s started to realize I’m here… Wow I’m so hungry all of a sudden! I can’t stop! How are you doing, son?! It’s me! Your dad! My dear boy? I can’t stop! I'm too hungry! Ahhhh, so delicious! What a pleasure! Nooo Daniii! Nooooo!.... I’m your daaaad!... Splat!... “Mum, bring the insect repellent, the garden’s full of mosquitoes,” grunted Daniel as he wiped the blood from the palm of his hand on his trousers. Gabriela was just coming out. She did an about turn and went back into her house, and shouted “Darling, bring the insect repellent, it’s on the fireplace…” Absolute cold and silence… THE END (1) This note is for those who have read EQUINOX—WHISPERS OF DESTINY. This story is a spin-off of the novel EQUINOX—WHISPERS OF DESTINY and revolves around Letus’s curious theories about the possibility of animal reincarnation.
Gonzalo Guma (Equinoccio. Susurros del destino)
I was very fond of strange stories when I was a child. In my village-school days, I used to buy stealthily popular novels and historical recitals. Fearing that my father and my teacher might punish me for this and rob me of these treasures, I carefully hid them in secret places where I could enjoy them unmolested. As I grew older, my love for strange stories became even stronger, and I learned of things stranger than what I had read in my childhood. When I was in my thirties, my memory was full of these stories accumulated through years of eager seeking. l have always admired such writers of the T'ang Dynasty as Tuan Ch'eng-shih [author of the Yu-yang tsa-tsu] and Niu Sheng [author of the Hsuan-kuai lu]. Who wrote short stories so excellent in portrayal of men and description of things. I often had the ambition to write a book (of stories) which might be compared with theirs. But I was too lazy to write, and as my laziness persisted, I gradually forgot most of the stories which I had learned. Now only these few stories, less than a score, have survived and have so successfully battled against my laziness that they are at last written down. Hence this Book of Monsters. I have sometimes laughingly said to myself that it is not I who have found these ghosts and monsters, but they, the monstrosities themselves, which have found me! ... Although my book is called a book or monsters, it is not confined to them: it also records the strange things of the human world and sometimes conveys a little bit of moral lesson.
Wu Cheng'en
My monk had to be a man of wide worldly experience and an inexhaustible fund of resigned tolerance for the human condition. His crusading and seafaring past, with all its enthusiasms and disillusionments, was referred to from the beginning. Only later did readers begin to wonder and ask about his former roving life, and how and why he became a monk. For reasons of continuity I did not wish to go back in time and write a book about his crusading days. Whatever else may be true of it, the entire sequence of novels proceeds steadily season by season, year by year, in a progressive tension which I did not want to break. But when I had the opportunity to cast a glance behind by way of a short story, to shed light on his vocation, I was glad to use it. So here he is, not a convert, for this is not a conversion. In an age of relatively uncomplicated faith, not yet obsessed and tormented by cantankerous schisms, sects and politicians, Cadfael has always been an unquestioning believer. What happens to him on the road to Woodstock is simply the acceptance of a revelation from within that the life he has lived to date, active, mobile and often violent, has reached its natural end, and he is confronted by a new need and a different challenge.
Ellis Peters (A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #0.5))
Though Wilder blamed her family’s departure from Kansas on “blasted politicians” ordering white squatters to vacate Osage lands, no such edict was issued over Rutland Township during the Ingallses’ tenure there. Quite the reverse is true: only white intruders in what was known as the Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma were removed to make way for the displaced Osages arriving from Kansas. (Wilder mistakenly believed that her family’s cabin was located forty—rather than the actual fourteen—miles from Independence, an error that placed the fictional Ingalls family in the area affected by the removal order.) Rather, Charles Ingalls’s decision to abandon his claim was almost certainly financial, for Gustaf Gustafson did indeed default on his mortgage. The exception: Unlike their fictional counterparts, the historical Ingalls family’s decision to leave Wisconsin and settle in Kansas was not a straightforward one. Instead it was the eventual result of a series of land transactions that began in the spring of 1868, when Charles Ingalls sold his Wisconsin property to Gustaf Gustafson and shortly thereafter purchased 80 acres in Chariton County, Missouri, sight unseen. No one has been able to pinpoint with any certainty when (or even whether) the Ingalls family actually resided on that land; a scanty paper trail makes it appear that they actually zigzagged from Kansas to Missouri and back again between May of 1868 and February of 1870. What is certain is that by late February of 1870 Charles Ingalls had returned the title to his Chariton County acreage to the Missouri land dealer, and so for simplicity’s sake I have chosen to follow Laura Ingalls Wilder’s lead, contradicting history by streamlining events to more closely mirror the opening chapter of Little House on the Prairie, and setting this novel in 1870, a year in which the Ingalls family’s presence in Kansas is firmly documented.
Sarah Miller (Caroline: Little House, Revisited)
When you start searching for ‘pure elements’ in literature you will find that literature has been created by the following classes of persons: Inventors. Men who found a new process, or whose extant work gives us the first known example of a process. The masters. Men who combined a number of such processes, and who used them as well as or better than the inventors. The diluters. Men who came after the first two kinds of writer, and couldn’t do the job quite as well. Good writers without salient qualities. Men who are fortunate enough to be born when the literature of a given country is in good working order, or when some particular branch of writing is ‘healthy’. For example, men who wrote sonnets in Dante’s time, men who wrote short lyrics in Shakespeare’s time or for several decades thereafter, or who wrote French novels and stories after Flaubert had shown them how. Writers of belles-lettres. That is, men who didn’t really invent anything, but who specialized in some particular part of writing, who couldn’t be considered as ‘great men’ or as authors who were trying to give a complete presentation of life, or of their epoch. The starters of crazes. Until the reader knows the first two categories he will never be able ‘to see the wood for the trees’. He may know what he ‘likes’. He may be a ‘compleat book-lover’, with a large library of beautifully printed books, bound in the most luxurious bindings, but he will never be able to sort out what he knows to estimate the value of one book in relation to others, and he will be more confused and even less able to make up his mind about a book where a new author is ‘breaking with convention’ than to form an opinion about a book eighty or a hundred years old. He will never understand why a specialist is annoyed with him for trotting out a second- or third-hand opinion about the merits of his favourite bad writer.
Ezra Pound (ABC of Reading)
I read daily, not so much for the benefit of my writing, but because I am addicted to it. There is nothing in the world for me that compares to being lost in a really good novel. That said, reading is an absolute must if you want to write. It is a trite enough thing to say, but very true nonetheless. I cannot understand aspiring writers who email me for advice and freely admit that they read very little. I have learned something from every writer I have ever read. Sometimes I have done so consciously, picking up something about how to frame a scene, or seeing a new possibility with regards to structure, or interesting ways to write dialogue. Other times, I think, my collective reading experience affects my sensibilities and informs me in ways that I am not quite aware of, but in real ways that impact how I approach writing. The short of it is, as an aspiring writer, there is nothing as damaging to your credibility as saying that you don’t like to read
Khaled Hosseini
In getting from Windsor to Detroit there is a choice between a free tunnel and a toll bridge, which turned out to be a short ride for a dollar, which I mentioned to the toll-collector who said, 'One of those things,' impelling me to remark to my cousin, 'Almost everything said by people one sees for only an instant is something like poetry. Precise, incisive, and just right, and the reason seems to be that there isn't time to talk prose. This suggests several things, the most important of which is probably that a writer ought not to permit himself to feel that he has all the time in the world in which to write his story or play or novel. He ought to set himself a time-limit, and the shorter the better. And he ought to do a lot of other things while he is working within this time-limit, so that he will always be under pressure, in a hurry, and therefore have neither the inclination nor the time to be fussy, which is the worst thing that happens to a book while it's being written.
William Saroyan (Short Drive, Sweet Chariot)
All writers struggle at some point with the problem of balance between authority and involvement, seduction and revelation. Specifically, beginning writers wonder how much description to employ, and more advanced writers ask how much plot is too much or too little. And there is no better place to find answers than in the Victoria's Secret catalogue--or in any ad for lingerie--where the arts of seduction and revelation are so successfully practiced. After all, the secret of the effective lingerie ad is the secret of effective storytelling--to provide, moment by moment, the illusion of imminent expose, to give the viewer (read: reader) the uncanny sense that something fundamentally compelling is always just about to be revealed. Lingerie ads and storytelling balance the veiled and the unveiled, the seen and the unseen, the shown and the about-to-be-shown. In short, it is the art of the tease, the craft of selective 'coverage,' that, not just in lingerie but in storytelling, works to enthrall.
Julie Checkoway
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill? [...] In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.
John Steinbeck (East of Eden)
West Country novelist Thomas Hardy almost did not survive his birth in 1840 because everyone thought he was stillborn. He did not appear to be breathing and was put to one side for dead. The nurse attending the birth only by chance noticed a slight movement that showed the baby was in fact alive. He lived to be 87 and gave the world 18 novels, including some of the most widely read in English literature. When he did die, there was controversy over where he should be laid to rest. Public opinion felt him too famous to lie anywhere other than in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, the national shrine. He, however, had left clear instructions to be buried in Stinsford, near his birthplace and next to his parents, grandparents, first wife and sister. A compromise was brokered. His ashes were interred in the Abbey. His heart would be buried in his beloved home county. The plan agreed, his heart was taken to his sister’s house ready for burial. Shortly before, as it lay ready on the kitchen table, the family cat grabbed it and disappeared with it into the woods. Although, simultaneously with the national funeral in Westminster Abbey, a burial ceremony took place on 16 January 1928, at Stinsford, there is uncertainty to this day as to what was in the casket: some say it was buried empty; others that it contained the captured cat which had consumed the heart.
Phil Mason (Napoleon's Hemorrhoids: ... and Other Small Events That Changed History)
There was nothing the matter out there. It was in here, with me. I decided I'd better go to work, maybe that would exorcise me. I fled from the room almost as though it were haunted. It was too late to stop off at a breakfast counter now. I didn't want any, anyway. My stomach kept giving little quivers. In the end I didn't go to work, either. I couldn't, I wouldn't have been any good. I telephoned in that I was too ill to come, and it was no idle excuse, even though I was upright on my two legs. I roamed around the rest of the day in the sunshine. Wherever the sunshine was the brightest, I sought and stayed in that place, and when it moved on I moved with it. I couldn't get it bright enough or strong enough. I avoided the shade, I edged away from it, even the slight shade of an awning or of a tree. And yet the sunshine didn't warm me. Where others mopped their brows and moved out of it, I stayed - and remained cold inside. And the shade was winning the battle as the hours lengthened. It outlasted the sun. The sun weakened and died; the shade deepened and spread. Night was coming on, the time of dreams, the enemy. ("Nightmare")
Cornell Woolrich (Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Mystery Novels)
Scott stared at her mouth, just stared like he was hypnotized, paralyzed, like that crimson O was the answer to all of life’s problems, or maybe just his prayers. I kicked his shin to break the spell, which worked; he blinked, then ate the bite himself as if he’d never even offered it to anyone at all. I looked frankly at Carmel; her expression was innocently amused. There are women whose whole selves are engaged in being a public commodity, and Carmel was one of these. Every gesture she made, every syllable she uttered, the tinkle of her laughter, the way her dress’s fabric draped over her breasts, all of it was self-conscious and deliberate, designed to elicit admiration in women, desire in men. This isn’t to say I held any of that against her. Not a bit. I liked her, in fact. The way I saw it, she was a kind of living work of art, and funny and thoughtful besides. Was it her fault if she, as had happened to me, sometimes provoked the basest feelings in a man? Scott and Fred made short work of that second bottle of brandy while Carmel’s and my glasses still held our initial pour. I’d found that drinking very much of any kind of alcohol still did bad things to my stomach. Carmel might have found that it did bad things to her self-preservation; I know that if I looked like her, I’d never let down my guard.
Therese Anne Fowler (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald)
He began as a minor imitator of Fitzgerald, wrote a novel in the late twenties which won a prize, became dissatisfied with his work, stopped writing for a period of years. When he came back it was to BLACK MASK and the other detective magazines with a curious and terrible fiction which had never been seen before in the genre markets; Hart Crane and certainly Hemingway were writing of people on the edge of their emotions and their possibility but the genre mystery markets were filled with characters whose pain was circumstantial, whose resolution was through action; Woolrich's gallery was of those so damaged that their lives could only be seen as vast anticlimax to central and terrible events which had occurred long before the incidents of the story. Hammett and his great disciple, Chandler, had verged toward this more than a little, there is no minimizing the depth of their contribution to the mystery and to literature but Hammett and Chandler were still working within the devices of their category: detectives confronted problems and solved (or more commonly failed to solve) them, evil was generalized but had at least specific manifestations: Woolrich went far out on the edge. His characters killed, were killed, witnessed murder, attempted to solve it but the events were peripheral to the central circumstances. What I am trying to say, perhaps, is that Hammett and Chandler wrote of death but the novels and short stories of Woolrich *were* death. In all of its delicacy and grace, its fragile beauty as well as its finality. Most of his plots made no objective sense. Woolrich was writing at the cutting edge of his time. Twenty years later his vision would attract a Truffaut whose own influences had been the philosophy of Sartre, the French nouvelle vague, the central conception that nothing really mattered. At all. But the suffering. Ah, that mattered; that mattered quite a bit.
Barry N. Malzberg (The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich (Alternatives SF Series))
Another example is the modern political order. Ever since the French Revolution, people throughout the world have gradually come to see both equality and individual freedom as fundamental values. Yet the two values contradict each other. Equality can be ensured only by curtailing the freedoms of those who are better off. Guaranteeing that every individual will be free to do as he wishes inevitably short-changes equality. The entire political history of the world since 1789 can be seen as a series of attempts to reconcile this contradiction. Anyone who has read a novel by Charles Dickens knows that the liberal regimes of nineteenth-century Europe gave priority to individual freedom even if it meant throwing insolvent poor families in prison and giving orphans little choice but to join schools for pickpockets. Anyone who has read a novel by Alexander Solzhenitsyn knows how Communism’s egalitarian ideal produced brutal tyrannies that tried to control every aspect of daily life. Contemporary American politics also revolve around this contradiction. Democrats want a more equitable society, even if it means raising taxes to fund programmes to help the poor, elderly and infirm. But that infringes on the freedom of individuals to spend their money as they wish. Why should the government force me to buy health insurance if I prefer using the money to put my kids through college? Republicans, on the other hand, want to maximise individual freedom, even if it means that the income gap between rich and poor will grow wider and that many Americans will not be able to afford health care. Just as medieval culture did not manage to square chivalry with Christianity, so the modern world fails to square liberty with equality. But this is no defect. Such contradictions are an inseparable part of every human culture. In fact, they are culture’s engines, responsible for the creativity and dynamism of our species. Just
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)