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Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Alice Munro

Top 10 Best Quotes

“The unhappiest moment I could never tell you. All our fights blend into each other and are in fact re-enactments of the same fight, in which we punish each other--I with words, Hugh with silence--for being each other. We never needed any more than that.”

“Hugo felt the world was hostile to his writing, he felt not only all its human inhabitants but its noises and diversions and ordinary clutter were linked against him, maliciously, purposefully, diabolically thwarting and maiming him and keeping him from his work. And I, whose business it was to throw myself between him and the world, was failing to do so, by choice perhaps as much as ineptitude for the job. I did not believe in him. I had not understood how it would be necessary to believe in him. I believed that he was clever and talented, whatever that might mean, but I was not sure he would turn out to be a writer. He did not have the authority I thought a writer should have. He was too nervous, too touchy with everybody, too much of a showoff. I believed that writers were calm, sad people, knowing too much. I believed that there was a difference about them, some hard and shining, rare intimidating quality they had from the beginning, and Hugo didn’t have it. I thought that someday he would recognize this. Meanwhile, he lived in a world whose rewards and punishments were as strange, as hidden from me, as if he had been a lunatic.”

“They had her in Intensive Care. I sat outside Intensive Care in their slick little awful waiting room. They had red slippery chairs, cheap covering, and a stand full of pebbles with green plastic leaves growing up. I sat there hour after hour and read The Reader's Digest. The jokes. Thinking this is how it is, this is it, really, she's dying. Now, this moment, behind those doors, dying. Nothing stops or holds off for it the way you somehow and against all your sense believe it will. I thought about Mother's life, the part of it I knew. Going to work every day, first on the ferry then on the bus. Shopping at the old Red-and-White then at the new Safeway -- new, fifteen years old! Going down to the Library one night a week, taking me with her, and we would come home on the bus with our load of books and a bag of grapes we bought at the Chinese place, for a treat. Wednesday afternoons too when my kids were small and I went over there to drink coffee and she rolled us cigarettes on that contraption she had. And I thought, all these things don't seem that much like life, when you're doing them, they're just what you do, how you fill up your days, and you think all the time something is going to crack open, and you'll find yourself, then you'll find yourself, in life. It's not even that you particularly want this to happen, this cracking open, you're comfortable enough the way things are, but you do expect it. Then you're dying, Mother is dying, and it's just the same plastic chairs and plastic plants and ordinary day outside with people getting groceries and what you've had is all there is, and going to the Library, just a thing like that, coming back up the hill on the bus with books and a bag of grapes seems now worth wanting, O God doesn't it, you'd break your heart wanting back there.”

“It occurred to him, and had occurred to him before, that there was after all something to be said for dealing with things the way most people of his age seemed to do. It was sensible perhaps to stop noticing, to believe that this was still the same world they were living in, with some dreadful but curable aberrations, never to understand how the whole arrangement had altered.”

“I was thinking about changing into a different sort of person than the one I am. I do think about that. I read a book called The Art of Loving. A lot of things seemed clear while I was reading it but afterwards I went back to being more or less the same. What has Cam ever done that actually hurt me, anyway, as Haro once said. And how am I better than he is after the way i felt the night Mother lived instead of died? I made a promise to myself i would try.I went over there one day taking them a bakery cake - which Cam eats now as happily as anyone else - and I heard their voices out in the yard - now it’s summer, they love to sit in the sun - Mother saying to some visitor, “Oh, yes I was, I was all set to take off into the wild blue yonder, and Cam here, this idiot, came and danced outside my door with a bunch of his hippie friends - ‘ ‘My God, woman,’ roared Cam, but you could tell he didn’t care now, ‘members of an ancient holy discipline.” I had a strange feeling, like I was walking n coals and trying a spell so I wouldn’t get burnt. Forgiveness in families is a mystery to me, how it comes or how it lasts”

“Forgiveness in families is a mystery to me, how it comes or how it lasts.”

“The problem, the only problem, is my mother. And she is the one of course that I am trying to get; it is to reach her that this whole journey has been undertaken. With what purpose? To mark her off, to describe, to illumine, to celebrate, to get rid, of her; and it did not work, for she looms too close, just as she always did. She is heavy as always, she weighs everything down, and yet she is indistinct, her edges melt and flow. Which means she has stuck to me as close as ever and refused to fall away, and I could go on and on and on, applying what skills I have, using what tricks I know, and it would always be the same.”

“That isn't an expression that means anything to me, really. Make a fool of yourself. How can anybody do that? How can you make a fool? Show the fool, yes, expose the fool, but isn't the fool just yourself, isn't it there all the time? Show yourself. What else can you do?”

“Lovers. Not a soft word, as people thought, but cruel and tearing.”

“I was thinking myself about changing into a different sort of person from the one I am. I do think about that. I read a book called The Art of Loving. A lot of things seemed clear while I was reading it but afterwards I went back to being more or less the same.”

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Book Keywords:

family-relationships, development, reading, desire, love, influence, foolishness, maturity, embarrassment, books, mothers, individuality, lovers, originality, alice-munro, progress, ageing, change, relationships, grief, passion, interiority, connection, mystery, forgiveness, age, ignorance

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