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Connie Willis quotes (showing 1-30 of 69)

“Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself?”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“Cats, as you know, are quite impervious to threats.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
tags: cats
“Actually, writers have no business writing about their own works. They either wax conceited, saying things like: 'My brilliance is possibly most apparent in my dazzling short story, "The Cookiepants Hypotenuse."' Or else they get unbearably cutesy: 'My cat Ootsywootums has given me all my best ideas, hasn't oo, squeezums?”
Connie Willis, The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
“One has not lived until one has carried a sixty-pound dog down a sweeping flight of stairs at half-past V in the morning.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
tags: humor
“The reason Victorian society was so restricted and repressed was that it was impossible to move without knocking something over.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“When you're a writer, the question people always ask you is, "Where do you get your ideas?" Writers hate this question. It's like asking Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen, "Where do you get your leeches?" You don't get ideas. Ideas get you.”
Connie Willis
“People will buy anything at jumble sales,' I said. 'At the Evacuated Children Charity Fair a woman bought a tree branch that had fallen on the table.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
tags: humor
“You'd help if you could, wouldn't you, boy?" I said. "It's no wonder they call you man's best friend. Faithful and loyal and true, you share in our sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs, the truest friend we ever have known, a better friend than we deserve. You have thrown in your lot with us, through thick and thin, on battlefield and hearthrug, refusing to leave your master even when death and destruction lie all around. Ah, noble dog, you are the furry mirror in which we see our better selves reflected, man as he could be, unstained by war or ambition, unspoilt by-”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“And kissed her for a hundred and sixty-nine years.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“No," I said finally.
"Slowness in Answering," she said into the handheld. "When's the last time you slept?"
"1940" I said promptly, which is the problem with Quickness in Answering.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
tags: humor
“I was on a walking tour of Oxford colleges once with a group of bored and unimpressable tourists. They yawned at Balliol's quad, T.E. Lawrence's and Churchill's portraits, and the blackboard Einstein wrote his E=mc2 on. Then the tour guide said, 'And this is the Bridge of Sighs, where Lord Peter proposed (in Latin) to Harriet,' and everyone suddenly came to life and began snapping pictures. Such is the power of books.”
Connie Willis, The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
tags: books
“The entire range of human experience is present in a church choir, including, but not restricted to jealousy, revenge, horror, pride, incompetence (the tenors have never been on the right note in the entire history of church choirs, and the basses have never been on the right page), wrath, lust and existential despair.”
Connie Willis, The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
“There are some things worth giving up anything for, even your freedom, and getting rid of your period is definitely one of them.”
Connie Willis, Even the Queen: & Other Short Stories
“Management cares about only one thing. Paperwork. They will forgive almost anything else - cost overruns, gross incompetence, criminal indictments - as long as the paperwork's filled out properly. And in on time.”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“TO ALL THE
ambulance drivers
firewatchers
air-raid wardens
nurses
canteen workers
airplane spotters
rescue workers
mathematicians
vicars
vergers
shopgirls
chorus girls
librarians
debutantes
spinsters
fishermen
retired sailors
servants
evacuees
Shakespearean actors
and mystery novelists
WHO WON THE WAR.”
Connie Willis, All Clear
“One of the nastier trends in library management in recent years is the notion that libraries should be 'responsive to their patrons'.”
Connie Willis
“A Grand Design we couldn't see because we were part of it. A Grand Design we only got occasional, fleeting glimpses of. A Grand Design involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and penwipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork. And us.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“But if she'd come then, she would never have properly appreciated it. She'd have seen the happy crowds and the Union Jacks and the bonfires, but she'd have no idea of what it meant to see the lights on after years of navigating in the dark, what it meant to look up at an approaching plane without fear, to hear church bells after years of air-raid sirens. She'd have had no idea of the years of rationing and shabby clothes and fear which lay behind the smiles and the cheering, no idea of what it had cost to bring this day to pass--the lives of all those soldiers and sailors and airmen and civilians.”
Connie Willis, All Clear
“I learned everything I know about plot from Dame Agatha (Christie).”
Connie Willis, The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
“I’m not studying the heroes who lead navies—and armies—and win wars. I’m studying ordinary people who you wouldn’t expect to be heroic, but who, when there’s a crisis, show extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice. Like Jenna Geidel, who gave her life vaccinating people during the Pandemic. And the fishermen and retired boat owners and weekend sailors who rescued the British Army from Dunkirk. And Wells Crowther, the twenty-four-year-old equities trader who worked in the World Trade Center. When it was hit by terrorists, he could have gotten out, but instead he went back and saved ten people, and died. I’m going to observe six different sets of heroes in six different situations to try to determine what qualities they have in common.”
Connie Willis, Blackout
“The amazing thing is that chaotic systems don't always stay chaotic," Ben said, leaning on the gate. "Sometimes they spontaneously reorganize themselves into an orderly structure."

"They suddenly become less chaotic?" I said, wishing that would happen at HiTek.

"No, that's the thing. They become more and more chaotic until they reach some sort of chaotic critical mass. When that happens, they spontaneously reorganize themselves at a higher equilibrium level. It's called self-organized criticality.”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“Finch picked up one of the ancient fax-mags and brought it over to me.
"I don't need anything to read," I said. "I'll just sit here and eavesdrop along with you."
"I thought you might sit on the mag," he said. "It's extremely difficult to get soot out of chintz.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
tags: humor
“Shakespeare put no children in his plays for a reason," Sir Godfrey muttered, glaring at Alf and Binnie.
"You're forgetting the Little Prince," Polly reminded him.
"Who he had the good sense to kill off in the second act," snapped Sir Godfrey.”
Connie Willis, All Clear
“It was about a girl who helps an ugly old woman who turns out to be a good fairy in disguise. Inner values versus shallow appearances.”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“Don't they know science doesn't work like that? You can't just order scientific breakthroughs. They happen when you are looking at something you've been working on for years and suddenly see a connection you never noticed before, or when you're looking for something else altogether. Sometimes they even happen by accident. Don't they know you can't get a scientific breakthrough just because you want one?”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“I was never going to get any sleep. I was going to have Alice in Wonderland conversation after Alice in Wonderland conversation until I died of exhaustion. Here, in the restful, idyllic Victorian era.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“Cyril had staked out his claim and refused to move. "Move over!" I said, freeing one hand from holding the cat to push. "Dogs are supposed to sleep at the foot of the bed." Cyril had never heard of this rule. He jammed his body up against my back and began to snore. I tugged at the rugs, trying to get enough to cover me, and turned on my side, the cat cradled in my arms. Princess Arjumand paid no attention to the regulations of animals on the bed either. She promptly wriggled free and walked round the bed, treading on Cyril, who responded with a faint "oof," and kneading her claws in my leg. Cyril shoved and shoved again until he had the entire bed and all the covers, and Princess Arjumand draped herself across my neck with her full weight on my Adam's apple. Cyril shoved some more. An hour into this little drama it began to rain in earnest, and everyone moved in under the covers and began jockeying for position again.”
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
“One of the nastier trends in library management in recent years is the notion that libraries should be "responsive to their patrons." This means having dozens of copies of The Bridges of Madison County and Danielle Steele, and a consequent shortage of shelf space, to cope with which librarians have taken to purging books that haven't been checked out lately.”
Connie Willis, Bellwether
“That's what the movies do. They don't entertain us, they don't send the message: 'We care.' They give us lines to say, they assign us parts: John Wayne, Theda Bara, Shirley Temple, take your pick.”
Connie Willis, Remake
“He looked resigned, as though he knew that wretched door--to where? Home? Heaven? Peace?--would never open, and at the same time he seemed resolved, ready to do his bit even though he couldn't possibly know what sacrifices that would require. Had he been kept here, too--in a place he didn't belong, serving in a war in which he hadn't enlisted, to rescue sparrows and soldiers and shopgirls and Shakespeare? To tip the balance?”
Connie Willis, All Clear

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