The challenge for today’s list, courtesy of Bits of Bee via Stasha’s Good Life, is “quotable.” I’m not one of those people, like my friend Richard, who can quote big chunks of Shakespeare, song lyrics, snippets of movie dialogue. I’m more of a “here’s the gist of what someone said somewhere, maybe in a book and it was sort of like this…” Because of my non-quoti-ness, I thought maybe I should make a list of all the things I swore I would never say…and now say on a daily, almost weekly basis (reminding my kids of the starving children in the world is tops on that list). But then that was just too humiliating.
So I decided I’d go with things I remember a bit more clearly than other things…and that means (mostly) books and writers I love. And now I must hasten to say that there are lots of things not on this list, obviously–nothing from Dracula (one of the most amazing, most bizarre novels ever to spawn an entire genre), nothing from Moby Dick (took me four times through that damn whale of a book before I appreciated its beauty and its genius), nothing from Colette (whose Claudine quartet I’ve read probably eighty gazillion times). And nothing from the many, many writers out there in internet-land, whose wit and wisdom keep me company all the time.
Herewith, then, a list of things that, for one reason or another, are stuck in the velcro of my brain:
when falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
…the time may come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy — JK Rowling, The Goblet of Fire
The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor. Willa Cather
Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
come like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words,
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
please come flying.
Elizabeth Bishop – from “Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore”
Theoretically he knew that life is possible, may be even pleasant, without joy, without passionate griefs. But it had never occurred to him that he might have to live like that.
Willa Cather — The Professor’s House
Do or do not. There is no try.
“Ah, this is fine,” he cried triumphantly, holding up a small medallion on a chain. He dusted it off, and engraved on one side were the words “WHY NOT?” “That’s a good reason for almost anything – a bit used perhaps, but still quite serviceable.”
Norman Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.