I’ve never had anyone’s approval, so I’ve learned to live without it.
It did not look like the work of God, but it might have represented the handicraft of a God with a joyous sense of humor, a dancing God who loved mischief as much as prayer, and playfulness as much as mischief.
The tide was a poem that only time could create, and I watched it stream and brim and makes its steady dash homeward, to the ocean.
Happiness is an accident of nature, a beautiful and flawless aberration.
Writing poetry and reading books causes brain damage.
In our modern age, there are writers who have heaped scorn on the very idea of the primacy of story. I’d rather warm my hands on a sunlit ice floe than try to coax fire from the books they carve from glaciers.
You get a little moody sometimes but I think that’s because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.
A library could show you everything if you knew where to look.
Southerners had a long tradition of looking for religious significance in even the most humble forms of nature, and I always preferred the explanations of folklore to the icy interpretations of science.
Among the worst things about growing old is the loss of those irreplaceable friends who added richness and depth to your life.
I envy the tireless intimacy of women’s friendship, its lastingness, and its unbendable strength.
It’s politics . . . It makes everybody stupid. When you grow up, you’ll know what I mean.
But even her demons she invested with inordinate beauty, consecrated them with the dignity of her attention.
There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.
I felt the sharp sting of emptiness and solitude that you feel so acutely and with such internal sorrow and wonder whenever music is performed well.
I don’t know when reading books became the most essential thing about me, but it happened over the years and I found myself the most willing servant of what I considered a rich habit.
I cannot express how lordly and transfigured I felt at that moment. I was a prince of that harbor, a porpoise king – slim among the buoys and the water traffic.
Moonrise is a fabulous novel and my damn wife wrote it and that’s me up there near Highlands shouting it out to the hills.
It eases my soul that I share a house with [Cassandra King] a novelist of such rare and distinctive gifts.
Music could ache and hurt, that beautiful music was a place a suffering man could hide.
Carolina beach music,” Dupree said, coming up on the porch. “The holiest sound on earth.
These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.
My father managed to change his entire life after I wrote a novel about his brutal regime as a family man. It took resoluteness and courage for my father to change, and I need to acknowledge that.
It’s the great surprise of my life that I ended up loving [my father] so much.
The only way I could endure being a coward was if I was the only one who knew it.
He was ruled by the tyranny of instinct, by passion and the instant legislation of a simple heart.
When mom and dad went to war the only prisoners they took were the children
I have always been attracted to male writers who can demonstrate their love and affection for women with ease, yet not draw attention to themselves.
The writing of novels is one of the few ways I have found to approach the altar of God and Creation itself. You try to worship God by performing the singularly courageous and impossible favor of knowing yourself.
When you write by hand, you don’t have the excessive freedom of a computer. When I write down something, I have to be serious about it. I have to ask myself, “Is this necessary at this point in the book?
You have to pay for this view (onto which he looks while writing), so our expenses keep us pretty motivated to write. It’s a vicious cycle.
Fierce praying was a way of finding entrance and prologue into my own writing.
I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.
I have yet to meet an English teacher who assigned a book to damage a kid.
Read the great books, gentlemen,” Mr. Monte said one day. “Just the great ones. Ignore the others. There’s not enough time.
There is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss.
A woman in Charlotte approached me and said that she’s tired of the dysfunction in my novels. I told her I was sorry, but that is how the world has presented itself to me throughout my life.
The most powerful words in English are, “Tell me a story.
He was one of those rare men who are capable of being fully in love only once in their lives.
I wish nights like this weren’t so fragile and slippery and impossible to nail down for study in one’s leisure. But the really great nights pass through you like whispers or shadows. They shimmer, but don’t adhere.
Gonzaga was the kind of place you’d not even think about loving until you’d left it for a couple of years.
Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.
Hurt is a great teacher, maybe the greatest of all.
Generosity is the rarest of qualities in American writers.
Losing well was a gift, but winning well is this stuff of the authentic manhood.
I take account of my life and find that I have lived a lot and learned very little.
The desolate narrowness, the definitive thinness of experience is both the vainglory and the dead giveaway of a provincial man.
It would always be my burden, not that I lacked genius, but that I was fully aware of it.
Love had always issued out of the places that hurt the most.
The mind is an intricate mechanism that can be run on the fuels of both victory and defeatism.
The pursuit of greatness means that laziness has no place in your life.
As his children, we were treated as some species of migrant workers who happened to be passing through. My father was the only person I ever knew who looked upon childhood as a dishonorable vocation one grew out of as quickly as possible.
In every southerner, beneath the veneer of clichés lies a much deeper motherlode of cliché. But even cliché is overlaid with enormous power when a child is involved.
I was trying to unravel the complicated trigonometry of the radical thought that silence could make up the greatest lie ever told.
There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory.
The choices I didn’t make are almost as ruinous as the ones I did.
She understood the nature of sin and knew that its most volatile form was the kind that did not recognize itself.
College was to teach me that I was one of life’s journeymen, eager to excel but lacking the requisite gifts.
I would always be a better hater of things and institutions than a lover of them.
To have attracted readers is the most magical part of my writing life. I was not expecting you to show up when I wrote my first books. It took me by surprise. It filled me with gratitude. It still does.
I had come to a place where I was meant to be. I don’t mean anything so prosaic as a sense of coming home. This was different, very different. It was like arriving at a place much safer than home.
I’ve always admired people who give accurate directions, and the tribe is small.
Good writing is the hardest form of thinking. It involves the agony of turning profoundly difficult thoughts into a lucid form and forcing them into the tightfitting uniform of language, making them visible and clear.
You’re going to act like a happy man. I know, I know. It’s the hardest role in the world.
What’s important is that a story changes every time you say it out loud. When you put it on paper, it can never change. But the more times you tell it, the more changes will occur. A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts
i was delighted I had offended her upholstered sensibilities.
You do not learn how to write novels in a writing program. You learn how by leading an interesting life. Open yourself up to all experience. Let life pour through you the way light pours through leaves.
A new novel awaits my arrival, prepares for my careful inspection. Yet a novel is always a long dream that lives in me for years before I know where to go to hunt it out.
A nation of unhappy teachers makes for a sadder and more endangered America.
Wasn’t Atlanta the murder capital of the U.S. last year?” “Yes, but the airport’s perfectly safe.
Rape is a crime against sleep and memory; it’s after image imprints itself like an irreversible negative from the camera obscure of dreams. Though their bodies would heal, their souls had sustained a damage beyond compensation
Violence send deep roots into the heart, it has no seasons, it is always ripe, evergreen.
There was always a grandeur and a nobility in my megalomania. And also something cheap and loathsome that I could not help.
An author must gorge himself on ten thousand images to select the magical one that can define a piece of the world in a way one has never considered before.
I loathe it when they [English teachers] are bullied by no-nothing parents or cowardly school boards.
Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers
The narrator welcomes new students to his school by offering to tell them who the easy teachers are, or who the good ones are.
One can learn anything, anything at all, I thought, if provided by a gifted and passionate teacher.
Evil would always come to me disguised in systems and dignified by law.
I can forgive almost any crime if a great story is left in its wake.
Because I’ve gotten older, I worry that there will be a steep decline in my talent, but I promise not to let the same thing happen to my passion for writing.
We had made the error of staying small – and there is no more unforgivable crime in America.
The body’s a funny thing. It’s so full of surprises that it makes conventional wisdom seem silly.
I became one of those anonymous Americans who tries to keep his mind sharp and inquisitive while performing all the humiliating rituals of the middle class
I wanted to be curious and smart and unappeasable until I got a sentence to mean exactly what I ordered it to mean.
Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.
I have built a city from the books I’ve read. A good book sings a a timeless music that is heard in the choir lofts, and balconies, and theaters that thrived within that secret city inside me.
I lived with the terrible knowledge that one day I would be an old man still waiting for my real life to start. Already, I pitied that old man.
The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.
Her laughter was a shiny thing, like pewter flung high in the air.
It enclosed us in its laceries as we watched the moon spill across the Atlantic like wine from an overturned glass. With the light all around us, we felt secret in that moon-infused water like pearls forming in the soft tissues of oysters.
…I lived for those long casual walks down the beach and the sight of her small footprints in the glistening wet sand…
We old athletes carry the disfigurements and markings of contests remembered only by us and no one else. Nothing is more lost than a forgotten game.
When we cuss each other out, call each other the vilest names on earth, and put each other down with thoughtless cruelty, it is the only way we know and the only language we have to express our ardent love for each other.
I bet they love those games on Friday night more than they do segregation.
Basketball allowed me to revere my father without him knowing what I was up to. I took up basketball as a form of homage and mimicry.
If not for sports, I do not think my father would have ever talked to me.
Conroy writes that, while part of him was following the basketball game from the bench, “the other part, an embassy of a completely sovereign nation, would fling its doors open to the most authentic part of me.
Before I met the Jesuits, I’d never encountered another group who thought that intellect and arrogance were treasures beyond price and necessities in waging wars against blasphemers, heretics.
The narrator analyzes that the maturing, passing away boy within him, “had issued me a challenge as he passed the baton to the man in me: He had challenged me to have the courage to become a gentle, harmless man.
As time passed from solstice to mild solstice in those occluded zones of my early childhood, I played beneath the distracted majesty of my mother’s blue-eyed gaze. With her eyes on me I felt as if I were being studied by flowers.
Without music life is a journey through a desert.
A man’s only got so many yeses inside him before he uses them all up.
I had declared in public my desire to be a writer … I wanted to develop a curiosity that was oceanic and insatiable as well as a desire to learn and use every word in the English language that didn’t sound pretentious or ditzy.
Without music, life is a journey through a desert.
Writing is more about imagination than anything else. I fell in love with words. I fell in love with storytelling.
I think I learned about the relationship between books and life from Margaret Mitchell.