Quotes By The Brooklyn Follies

“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head.”


“Not to me," I said.
Kafka wrote his first story in one night. Stendhal wrote The
Charterhouse of Parma in forty-nine days. Melville wrote Moby-
Dick in sixteen months. Flaubert spent five years on Madame
Bovary. Musil worked for eighteen years on The Man Without
Qualities and died before he could finish. Do we care about any
of that now?”


“Try to roll with the punches. Keep your chin up. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Vote Democrat in every election. Ride your bike in the park. Dream about my perfect, golden body. Take your vitamins. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Pull for the Mets. Watch a lot of movies. Don’t work too hard at your job. Take a trip to Paris with me. Come to the hospital when Rachel has her baby and hold my grandchild in your arms. Brush your teeth after every meal. Don’t cross the street on a red light. Defend the little guy. Stick up for yourself. Remember how beautiful you are. Remember how much I love you. Drink one Scotch on the rocks every day. Breathe deeply. Keep your eyes open. Stay away from fatty foods. Sleep the sleep of the just. Remember how much I love you.”


“Farts come from no
one and nowhere; they are anonymous emanations that belong
to the group as a whole, and even when every person in the
room can point to the culprit, the only sane course of action is
denial.”


“As long as a man had the courage to reject what society told him to do, he could live life on his own terms. To what end? To be free. But free to what end? To read books, to write books, to think.”


“Existence was bigger than just life. It was everyone's life all together, and even if you lived in Buffalo, New York and had never been more than ten miles from home, you were part of the puzzle, too. It didn't matter how small your life was.”


“When you've lived as long as I have, you tend to think you've heard
everything, that there's nothing left that can shock you anymore.
You grow a little complacent about your so-called knowledge of the
world, and then, every once in a while, something comes along that
jolts you out of your smug cocoon of superiority, that reminds you all
over again that you don't understand the first thing about life.”


“when a man's only assets are the brain in his head and the
tongue in his mouth, he has to think carefully before he decides
to open that mouth and speak.”


“Life got in the way -- two years in the army, work, marriage, family responsibilities, the need to earn more and more money, all the muck that bogs us down when we don't have the balls to stand up for ourselves -- but I had never lost my interest in books.”


“I hear her slip into bed with him, and I hear everything that happens after that. Sex is such a strange and sloppy business, why bother to recount every slurp and moan that ensued? Tom and Honey deserve their privacy, and for that reason I will end my report of the night's activities here. If some readers object, I ask them to close their eyes and use their imaginations.”


“When she was three, I sent her to day care for a couple
of hours every morning. After a few weeks, the teacher
called me and said that she was worried about Lucy. When it
was time for the children to have their milk, Lucy would always
hang back until all the other kids had taken a carton before
she'd take one for herself. The teacher didn't understand. Go
get your milk, she'd say to Lucy, but Lucy would always wait
around until there was just one carton left. It took a while for me
to figure it out. Lucy didn't know which carton was supposed to
be her milk. She thought all the other kids knew which ones
were theirs, and if she waited until there was only one carton in
the box, that one had to be hers. Do you see what I'm talking
about, Uncle Nat? She's a little weird—but intelligent weird, if
you know what I mean. Not like anyone else. If I hadn't used
the wordjust, you would have known where I was all along . . .”


“There were no rules when it came to writing, he said. Take a close look at the lives of poets and novelists, and what you wound up with was unalloyed chaos, an infinite jumble of exceptions. That was because writing was a disease, Tom continued, what you might call an infection or influenza of the spirit, and therefore it could strike anyone at any time. The young and the old, the strong and the weak, the drunk and the sober, the sane and the insane. Scan the roster of the giants and semi-giants, and you would discover writers who embraced every sexual proclivity, every political bent, and every human attribute — from the loftiest idealism to the most insidious corruption. They were criminals and lawyers, spies and doctors, soldiers and spinsters, travelers and shut-ins.”


“and if he could survive
the experience without completely losing heart, then perhaps
there was some hope for him after all.
By sticking with the
cab, he wasn't trying to make the best of a bad situation. He
was looking for a way to make things happen, and until he understood
what those things were, he wouldn't have the right to
release himself from his bondage.”


“More often than not, these attempts at sociability ended in painful silence. His old friends, who remembered him as a brilliant student and wickedly funny conversationalist, were appalled by what had happened to him. Tom had slipped from the ranks of the anointed, and his downfall seemed to shake their confidence in themselves, to open the door onto a new pessimism about their own prospects in life. It didn't help matters that Tom had gained weight, that his former plumpness now verged on an embarrassing rotundity, but even more disturbing was the fact that he didn't seem to have any plans, that he never spoke about how he was going to undo the damage he'd done to himself and get back on his feet. Whenever he mentioned his new job, he described it in odd, almost religious terms, speculating on such questions as spiritual strength and the importance of finding one's path through patience and humility, and this confused them and made them fidget in their chairs. Tom's intelligence had not been dulled by the job, but no one wanted to hear what he had to say anymore, least of all the women he talked to, who expected young men to be full of brave ideas and clever schemes about how they were going to conquer the world. Tom put them off with his doubts and soul-searchings, his obscure disquisitions on the nature of reality, his hesitant manner. It was bad enough that he drove a taxi for a living, but a philosophical taxi driver who dressed in army-navy clothes and carried a paunch around his middle was a bit too much to ask. He was a pleasant guy, of course, and no one actively disliked him, but he wasn't a legitimate candidate?not for marriage, not even for a crazy fling.”


“I was looking for a quiet place to die.”


“Do you know what happened the last time a nation listened to a bush?" Honey asks.
No one says a word.
"Its people wandered in the desert for forty years.”


“That was all he had ever aspired to, with a wife thrown into the
bargain, maybe, and a kid or two to go along with her. It had
never felt like too much to ask for, but after three years of struggling
to write his dissertation, Tom finally understood that he
didn't have it in him to finish. Or, if he did have it in him, he
couldn't persuade himself to believe in the value of doing it
anymore.”


“It was too small a step,
somehow, too puny a thing to settle for after having lost so
much. So the courtship continued, and the more Tom came to
despise his job, the more stubbornly he defended his own inertia;
and the more inert he became, the more he despised himself.”


“Intellectuals suck, Nathan. They are the most boring people in the world.”


“Leer por puro placer, por la hermosa quietud que te envuelve cuando resuenan en la cabeza las palabras de un autor.”


“There's an imp inside me, and if I don't let him out to make some mischief now and then, the world just gets too damned dull. I hate feeling grumpy and bored. I'm an enthusiast, and the more dangerous my life becomes, the happier I am.”


“That work was what appealed to him most about their conversations.
Tom liked having to think fast, and he found it invigorating
to push his mind in unaccustomed directions for a change,
to be forced to stay on his toes.”


“من همیشه آد Ù… های کلاه بردار را جالب Ù…ÛŒ یابم. البته نمی شود به دوستی شان اعتماد کرد، اما به این فکر Ú©Ù† Ú©Ù‡ زندگی بدون آن ها Ú†Ù‡ قدر خسته کننده Ù…ÛŒ شود.”


“...........La vida se metió por medio —dos años en el ejército, trabajo, matrimonio, responsabilidades familiares, necesidad de ganar cada vez más dinero, toda esa cagada que nos deja empantanados cuando no tenemos los cojones de luchar por lo que queremos—, pero nunca perdí el interés por los libros.”


“پوزش خواستن کار دشواری است؛ حرکتی است ظریف Ú©Ù‡ میان غرور خشک Ùˆ ندامت توام با اشک Ùˆ آه قرار دارد Ùˆ اگر راه گشودن قلب خود را به سوی دیگری صادقانه نیابیم، همه‌ی عذرخواهی ها به نظر تو خالی Ùˆ کاذب Ù…ÛŒ آیند.”