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The Quick and the Dead

Joy Williams

Top 10 Best Quotes

“You have never seen such animals as these who without a sound or a sign carry you off. You race with them across the long familiar ground that in that moment seems so glorious, so charged with beauty, strange. In their jaws you are carried so effortlessly, with such great care that you think it will never end, you long for it not to end, and then you wake and know that, indeed, they have not brought you back.”

“He could almost taste the tang of that swampy air right here in his own desert parking lot and hear the calls of the heavily beating flock, sorrowing and apologizing and making plans for some other time. Time. He realized that crows had always reminded him of time, dark time. He gazed at the backs of his hands, at the plummy dark repellent veins.”

“The woman regarded him. Her hands shook. She was really very drunk. “I know everybody in this room,” she said. “And you know what I see when I look at them? I don’t see anybody I know.”

“There was something shameful about surviving sorrow. You were corrupted. She was corrupted. She was no good anymore. She was inauthentic, apocryphal. She wanted to be a seeker and to travel further and further. But after sorrow, such traveling is not a climbing but a sinking to a depth leached of light at which you are unfit to endure. And yet you endure there.”

“I’ve seen what comes next. Vigils. Concern is the new consumerism. A person’s worth can be measured by the number and intensity of his concerns. Candles, lighting a candle, confers the kind of fulfillment that only empty ritual can bring. Empty ritual’s important. It’s coming back as a force in people’s lives. Its role is being acknowledged. It’s the keystone for tomorrow’s dealings in an annexed and exploited world. And holding a candle, cradling a little flame with others holding their candle, cradling their little flame gives people the opportunity to experience something bigger than themselves without surrendering themselves to it.”

“They don’t use the word used anymore. With cars it’s preowned. With books, preread. With clothes what would you say, preoccupied?”

“You needed to know only one person in your life, and that was yourself. You had to find that person and make friends with it if you could and hope it wouldn’t turn on you before you had a chance to familiarize yourself with its habits and tear you limb from limb.”

“You can do anything you want in this world,” J.C. said. “No, you can’t,” Emily said modestly. “Why, sure you can. And if you don’t you’ll never know the consequences. You won’t be leading any kind of life at all.”

“The blameless couple annoyed Alice, ignorant as they were of John Crimmins’s whereabouts, unknowing of Tommy or his end, blithely incurious about the charred plot of land to the south. Should not sickening cruelty leave its impressions upon the surroundings? Should not a repulsive act taint the very air?”

“That was the problem with public art, it risked great ridicule.”

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Book Keywords:

sorrow, crows, life, endurance, death, life-and-death, time, animals, death-and-dying

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