Quotes By By Nightfall

“Insomniacs know better than anyone how it would be to haunt a house.”

“What do you do when you're no longer the hero of your own story?”

“Please, God, send me something to adore.”

“Youth is the only sexy tragedy. It's James Dean jumping into his Porsche Spyder, it's Marilyn heading off to bed.”

“We always worry about the wrong things, don't we?”

“You have failed in the most base and human of ways--you have not imagined the lives of others.”

“What marriage doesn't involve uncountable accretions, a language of gestures, a sense of recognition sharp as a toothache? Unhappy, sure. What couple isn't unhappy, at least part of the time? But how can the divorce rate be, as they say, skyrocketing? How miserable would you have to get to be able to bear the actual separation, to go off and live your life so utterly unrecognized?”

“He's one of those smart, drifty young people who, after certain deliberations, decides he wants to do Something in the Arts but won't, possibly can't, think in terms of an actual job; who seems to imagine that youth and brains and willingness will simply summon an occupation, the precise and perfect nature of which will reveal itself in its own time.”

“Accept that, like many men, you have a streak of the homoerotic in you. Why would you, why would anyone, want to be that straight?”

“Maybe it’s not, in the end, the virtues of others that so wrenches our hearts as it is the sense of almost unbearably poignant recognition when we see them at their most base, in their sorrow and gluttony and foolishness. You need the virtues, too—some sort of virtues—but we don’t care about Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina or Raskolnikov because they’re good. We care about them because they’re not admirable, because they’re us, and because great writers have forgiven them for it.”

“Any other vexations to report?" he asks.

"I love the word 'vexations.'"

"It's the 'x.' Nice to jump off a 'v' and bite into an 'x' like that."

"Just the usual ones," she says.

"How was the weekend?"

"Vexing. Not really, I just wanted to say it. You?”

“The point of sex is...
Sex doesn't have a point.”

“You know what I am?" he says.


"I'm an ordinary person."

"Come on."

"I know. Who isn't an ordinary person? How horribly presumptuous to want to be anything else. But I have to tell you. I've been treated as something special for so long and I've tried my hardest to be something special but I'm not, I'm not exceptional, I'm smart enough, but I'm not brilliant and I'm not spiritual or even all that focused. I think I can stand that, but I'm not sure if the people around me can.”

“The problem with the truth is, it's so often mild and clichéd.”

“It's the world, you live in it, even if some boy has made a fool of you.”

“Peter glances out at the falling snow. Oh, little man. You have brought down your house not through passion but by neglect. You who dared to think of yourself as dangerous. You are guilty not of the epic transgressions but the tiny crimes. You have failed in the most base and human of ways - you have not imagined the lives of others.”

“It's impossible to imagine, isn't it? Most men probably go through the same motions, more or less, but what's in their minds, what agitates their blood? What could be more mortifyingly personal, what veers closer to the depths, than whatever it is that makes us come? If we knew, if we could see what's in the cartoon balloons over other guy's heads as they jerk off, would we be moved, or repelled?”

“He feels, as he sometimes does, as most people must, a presence in the room, what he can only think of as his and Rebecca's living ghosts, the amalgamation of their dreams and their breathing, their smells. He does not believe in ghosts, but he believes in...something. Something viable, something living, that's surprised when he wakes at this hour, that's neither glad nor sorry to see him awake but that recognizes the fact, because it has been interrupted in its nocturnal inchoate musings.”

“He believes that a real work of art can be owned but should not be subject to capture; that it should radiate such authority, such bizarre but confident beauty (or unbeauty) that it can't be undone by even the most ludicrous sofas or side tables. A real work of art should rule the room, and the clients should call up not to complain about the art but to say that the art has helped them understand how the room is all a horrible mistake, can Peter suggest a designer to help them start over again.”

“There's no denying his resemblance to the Rodin bronze - the slender, effortless muscularity of youth, the extravagant nonchalance of it; that sense that beauty is in fact the natural human condition and not the rarest of mutations.”

“Milwaukee, Rebecca. Order and sobriety and a devotion to cleanliness that scours out the soul. Decent people doing their best to live decent lives, three's nothing really to hate them for, they do their jobs and maintain their property and love their children (most of the time); they take family vacations and visit relatives and decorate their houses for the holidays, collect some things and save up for other things; they're good people (most of them, most of the time), but if you were me, if you were young Pete Harris, you felt the modesty of it eroding you, depopulating you, all those little satisfactions and no big, dangerous ones; no heroism, no genius, no terrible yearning for anything you can't at least in theory actually have. If you were young lank-haired, pustule-plagued Pete Harris you felt like you were always about to expire from the safety of your life, its obdurate sensibleness, that Protestant love of the unexceptional; the eternal certainty of the faithful that flamboyance and the macabre are not just threatening but - worse - uninteresting.”

“This is a Southern gift, isn't it - tremendous self-regard diluted with humor and modesty. That's what they mean by Southern charm, right?”

“The art we produce lives in queasy balance with the art we can imagine the art the room expects.”

“Silly humans. Banging on a tub to make a bear dance when we would move the stars to pity.”

“Remember, how often the great art of the past didn't look great at first, how often it didn't look like art at all; how much easier it is, decades or centuries later, to adore it, not only because it is, in fact, great but because it's still here; because the inevitable little errors and infelicities tend to recede in an object that's survived the War of 1812, the eruption of Krakatoa, the rise and fall of Nazism.”

“I have to keep reminding myself that almost everybody is always lying.”

“I'm just a child who's learned to impersonate an adult.”

“And here he is, letting the massive steel street door click shut behind him, standing at the top of the three iron steps that lead down to the shattered sidewalk. New York is probably, in this regard at least, the strangest city in the world, so many of its denizens living as they (we) do among the unreconstructed remnants of nineteenth-century sweatshops and tenements, the streets potholed and buckling while right over there, around the corner, is a Chanel boutique. We go shopping amid the rubble, like the world's richest, best-dressed refugees.”

“And so, a never-ending, rather edgy conversation between them, an undercurrent of roiling sound that reminded them they were married, they had two sons, they were living a life, they had preparations to make and disasters to avert and a world to interpret, sign by sign, symbol by symbol, to each other, and that at this point the only fate worse than staying together would be trying, each of them, to live alone.”