Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel.
She was secure and grateful; he was kind and lively.
We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth.
I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. You shouldn’t write through it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.
Everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it.
There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I always start out with an idea, even a boring idea, that becomes a question I don’t have answers to.
The writing is – I’m free of pain. It’s the place where I live; it’s where I have control; it’s where nobody tells me what to do; it’s where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best. Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I’m writing.
I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.
if there is a book
Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don’t get nothing for it.
The real hell of Hell is that it is forever.’ Sula said that. She said doing anything forever and ever was hell.
It would be ten years before they saw each other again, and their meeting would be thick with birds.
Lonely, ain’t it?
It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.
Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A second-hand lonely.
There is a certain kind of peace that is not merely the absence of war. It is larger than that. The peace I am thinking of is not at the mercy of history’s rule, nor is it a passive surrender to the status quo. The peace I am thinking of is the dance of an open mind when it engages another equally open one — an activity that occurs most naturally, most often in the reading/writing world we live in. Accessible as it is, this particular kind of peace warrants vigilance.
It’s always seemed to me that black people’s grace has been with what they do with language. In Lorrain, Ohio, when I was a child, I went to school with and heard the stories of Mexicans, Italians, and Greeks, and I listened. I remember their language, and a lot of it is marvelous. But when I think of things my mother or father or aunts used to say, it seems the most absolutely striking thing in the world.