It’s on rainy weekends like this that I like to wander around Carter Library in my fluffy pajamas with a cup of hot coffee in hand.

I pull favorite books from our shelves.  I lay my right hand on their covers like you might the Bible — admire their dust jackets, inscriptions, dedications and, of course, sentences.

Here are a few that I re-read and re-loved today:

In this not-quite-quiet darkness, while the diesel breaks its heart more and more faintly on the mountain grade, I lie wondering if I am man enough to be a bigger man than my grandfather.  – Wallace Stegner, ANGLE OF REPOSE

I feel way too mean to say anything.  I look across the railroad to a field sown in timothy.  There are wells there, pumps to suck the ancient gases.  The gas burns blue, and I wonder if the ancient sun was blue.  The tracks run on till they’re a dot in the brown haze.  They give off clicks from their switches.  Some tankers wait on the spur.  Their wheels are rusting to the tracks.  I wonder what to hell I ever wanted with trilobites.  – Breece D’J Pancake, “Trilobites” from THE STORIES OF BREECE D’J PANCAKE

I was living with a woman who suddenly began to stink.  It was very difficult.  – T.C. Boyle, “The Descent of Man” from STORIES

I can’t say that I forgive my father, but now I can imagine what he probably never chose to remember – the goad of an unthinkable urge, pricking him, pressing him, wrapping him in an impenetrable fog of self that must have seemed, when he wandered around the house late at night after working and drinking, like the very darkness.  This is the gleaming obsidian shard I safeguard above all the others.  – Jane Smiley, A THOUSAND ACRES

I’ve finished my war book now.  The next one I write is going to be fun.  This one is a failure, and it had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt.  It begins like this:  Listen:  Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.  – Kurt Vonnegut, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE

There is a loneliness that can be rocked.  Arms crossed, knees drawn up; holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker.  It’s an inside kind – wrapped tight like skin.  Then there is a loneliness that roams.  No rocking can hold it down.  It is alive, on its own.  A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.  – Toni Morrison, BELOVED

My wound is geography.  – Pat Conroy, THE PRINCE OF TIDES

Separated from family and from the flow of time, from work and from school; standing against a sheer face of red rock one thousand feet high; kneeling in a cave dwelling two thousand years old; watching as a million bats stream from the mouth of Carlsbad Caverns into the purple dusk – these nowheres and notimes are the only home we have.  – Kathryn Harrison, THE KISS

To have a reason to get up in the morning, it is necessary to possess a guiding principle.  A belief of some kind.  A bumper-sticker, if you will.  – Judith Guest, ORDINARY PEOPLE

Every third Monday, he conducted the monthly departmental meeting – aptly named, Agnes liked to joke, since she did indeed depart mental.  – Lorrie Moore, “Agnes of Iowa” from BIRDS OF AMERICA

At the time not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them – four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives.  But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them over and again – those somber explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbors viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.  – Truman Capote, IN COLD BLOOD

Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.  If you can bend space you can bend time also, and if you knew enough and could move faster than light you could travel backward in time and exist in two places at once. – Margaret Atwood, CAT’S EYE

See the child.  He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt.  He stokes the scullery fire.  – Cormac McCarthy, BLOOD MERIDIAN

My mother and father were born in the most beautiful place on earth, in the foothills of the Appalachians along the Alabama-Georgia line.  It was a place where gray mists hid the tops of low, deep-green mountains, where redbone and bluetick hounds flashed through the pines as they chased possums into the sacks of old men in frayed overalls, where old women in bonnets dipped Bruton snuf and hummed “Faded Love and Winter Roses” as they shelled purple hulls, canned peaches and made biscuits too good for this world.  – Rick Bragg, ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’

Advertisements