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James A. McLaughlin

Top 10 Best Quotes

“The giant trees were like dormant gods, vibrating with something he couldn't name, not quite sentience, each one different from the others, each telling its own centuries-long story.”

“when you slack off, what you’re really doing is choosing to fail because you didn’t try hard enough. It was a rational choice, his father had said, for people who would rather fail on purpose than risk finding out they’re not good enough, but if you made that choice you should at least be honest with yourself about what you were doing.”

“So many people hate snakes. I think it's because they threaten people's worldview- they're alien, limbless, impossible, black magic: a stick come to life. But maybe we're all sticks come to life...We want to think we're exceptional, ensouled, angel fairies or God's special children. The magic of being animate matter isn't enough.”

“Far away the sun lifted water from the oceans and rained it back onto the land. Life squirmed and sprouted, inhaling, exhaling, it spoke and wept, hatched and died.”

“The sun had reached the horizon, and the crickets slowed their chirping as the air began to cool. Sunset and sunrise, he thought, the edges of the day, were the only times you could see the sun move. It touched the top of the ridge and began to disappear. He reminded himself that it was the earth's rotation, that the sun itself only seemed to move, but what difference did that make? He felt he was watching time itself pass. The last bright quarter shrank to an eighth, a sixteenth, a point, and then nothing, the sun's dark negative lingering in his retina.”

“He was climbing into his truck when he saw something on the spring box, an animal perched there, absolutely still, watching him. The creature was inky blank, dark as a hole in the world.”

“He found it puzzling that so many rural people were hostile to, even terrified of, the place where they lived. It wasn't just that hard-working country folk had no time for the precious concerns of the effete urban environmentalists, what amazed Rice was how you could spend your whole life physically immersed in a particular ecological system and yet remain blinded to it by superstition, tradition, prejudice. Out west, it was ranchers' holy war on predators and their veneration of Indo-European domestic animals they husbanded on land too dry to support them. Here in the Appalachians, you saw rugged country men who refused to walk in the woods all summer because they were scared of snakes.”

“He’d been having death dreams more often of late. Sometimes he felt like he was rehearsing, as if his subconscious had decided he needed practice, as if we learn how to die in our dreams.”

“Ever since he’d moved to Virginia, Rice had engaged in a nearly religious practice of keeping himself to himself, employing a human analogue to the behavioral strategies of certain prey species: drab coloring, quiet habits, never leaving cover, avoiding conflict.”

“A few bats jerked and swooped against the stars, echolocating bugs. They should be hibernating by now and he wondered if they were sick with white-nose disease, staying out too long, desperate to build up calorie reserves that might or might not see them through the winter. No other creature perceived the world through echolocation in quite the same way as these microbats, and when they were gone, their umwelt would disappear forever. A universe snuffed out of existence.”

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Book Keywords:

habitat, fear, environment, culture-critique, humankind, nature

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