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Elliot Perlman quotes (showing 1-30 of 32)

“What is it about men that make women so lonely?”
Elliot Perlman
“You know you're in love with somebody when you wake up next to them, comfortable despite your breath smelling like the week-old water at the bottom of a vase, when you are terribly excited to see them, to talk to them again, having missed them after all that sleep. ”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“Hell is the special pain that dwells in that loss which you yourself have caused”
Elliot Perlman
“There's the ambiguity of human relationships, for instance. A relationship between two people, just like a sequence of words, is ambiguous if it is open to different interpretations. And if two people do have differing views about their relationship - I don't just mean about its state, I mean about its very nature - then that difference can affect the entire course of their lives.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“You were trying to tell me something and I was trying to tell you something else. We didn't trust each other and that was reason enough to make each of us right.”
Elliot Perlman, The Reasons I Won't Be Coming
“It's like the smell of burned toast. You made the toast. You looked forward to it. You even enjoyed making it, but it burned. What were you doing? Was it your fault? It doesn't matter anymore. You open the window, but only the very top layer of the smell goes away. The rest remains around you. It's the walls. You leave the room, but it's on your clothes. You change your clothes, but it's in your hair. It's on the thin skin on the tops of your hand. And in the morning, it's still there.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“He sits in his car at traffic lights on his way out sometimes and tries to estimate how many times he has sat here, waiting at these traffic lights on his way somewhere without you, hoping to meet someone with the capacity to consign you to an anecdote, to be eventually confused with others”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“I asked her where she got her toughness. She pretended she didn't understand. Maybe she didn't at first, or maybe she had forgotten that to do the things she was prepared to do, to have them done to her, took enormous toughness, more than most people had. She said you just had to keep working on yourself until you didn't feel what they wanted you to feel, or anything else. By seven o'clock she had fallen asleep in my arms having said that she loved me and that she knew I was going through hell. She breathed like a little girl.”
Elliot Perlman
“What else is life from the time you were born but a struggle to matter, at least to someone?”
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper
“Perhaps people ought to feel with more imagination.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“You would love the way he sees you. He uses you as a weapon against himself and not merely because you did”
Elliot Perlman
“I used to be a child. It came naturally to me. I was an adult for a time, too. That came less naturally.”
Elliot Perlman
“I hold him to my chest. My love for him is the only unequivocally good thing I know is always there inside of me. It is the reason I should be spared all that is coming, the only reason.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“You don't need to be seeing someone to be in love with her. You can have lost touch with her, she can have hurt you, even inexplicably. If you ever felt that you really knew her and that it was what you knew that you loved, and if you remember what it was you once knew, why is it so crazy to retain that love still?”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“He uses you as a weapon against himself and not merely because you did. He sits in his car at traffic lights on his way out sometimes and tries to estimate how many times he has sat here, waiting at these traffic lights on his way somewhere without you, hoping to meet someone with the capacity to consign you to an anecdote, to be eventually confused with others. He thinks of you when the woman lying next to him thinks he's asleep.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“The peculiar striations that define someone's personality are too numerous to know, no matter how close the observer. A person we think we know can suddenly become someone else when previously hidden strands of his character are called to the fore by circumstance.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“[Memory] visits when it is hungry, not when you are.”
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper
“Charisma will sustain a relationship only in the way that strong coffee first thing in the morning will sustain a career.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“…anyway it wasn’t your reading that started this. It was the laugher, the carefree laughter, the three dimensional Coca Cola advertisement that you were, the try-anything-once friends, the imperviousness to all that came before you, the chain phone calls, the in-jokes, the instant success, the beach houses, the white lace underwear, the private dancing, the good-graced acceptance pf part-time shift work, the apparent absence of expectations, the ever-changing disposable cults of the rural, the family, the eastern, the modern, the postmodern, the impoverished, the sleekly deregulated, the orgasm, the feminine, the feminist, and then the way you canceled with the air of one making a salad”
Elliot Perlman
“...Simon and I by then were practicing to be apart, rehearsing together in the same room and often in the same conversation.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“Listen- all that she was then, all that she is now, those gestures, everything I remember but won't or can't articulate anymore, the perfect words that are somehow made imperfect when used to describe her and all that should remain unsaid about her- it is all unsupported by reason. I know that. But that enigmatic calm that attaches itself to people in the presence of reason- it's something from which I haven't been able to take comfort, not reliably, not since her.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“He nearly called you again last night. Can you imagine that, after all this time? He can. He imagines calling you or running into you by chance. Depending on the weather, he imagines you in one of those cotton dresses of yours with flowers on it or in faded blue jeans and a thick woollen button-up cardigan over a checkered shirt, drinking coffee from a mug, looking through your tortoiseshell glasses at a book of poetry while it rains. He thinks of you with your hair tied back and the characteristic sweet scent on your neck. He imagines you this way when he is on the train, in the supermarket, at his parents' house, at night, alone, and when he is with a woman.

He is wrong, though. You didn't read poetry at all. He had wanted you to read poetry, but you didn't. If pressed, he confesses to an imprecise recollection of what it was you read and, anyway, it wasn't your reading that started this. It was the laughter, the carefree laughter, the three-dimensional Coca-Cola advertisement that you were, the try-anything-once friends, the imperviousness to all that came before you, the chain telephone calls, the in-jokes, the instant music, the sunlight you carried with you, the way he felt when you spoke to his parents, the introductory undergraduate courses, the inevitability of your success, the beach houses, ...”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“We too often laughed at the same time to be a whore and a lonely guy.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“Madeline, my wife, never used to wear a watch. She does now, I am told. For a long time, in a very inexact way, I had kept time for her. There was the time before we were married and the time after. There was the time before I was hospitalised and the time after. There was the time she needed me and the time after. And there is now.”
Elliot Perlman, The Reasons I Won't Be Coming
“The reason his father has no time for poetry is that he is afraid of the messiness of life. Poetry feeds on all that spills over the boundaries of the usual things, the everyday things with which most people are obsessed, so William has no time for it.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“[T]he best historians...take a thorough knowledge of the evidence of their subject and combine it with a sharp intellect, the warmest understanding of people and the highest imaginative powers.”
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper
“Why did I start with them? Why do any of us choose one company over another as an employer? The money? At the beginning they all offer more or less the same and no one know how it will go after that. I guess it is often not so much your prospects at a particular firm, because these are essentially unknowable, but whether people will think you have done well to get the job there, that determines you choice. That was largely it in my case. It was really the prestige. They gave good letterhead.”
Elliot Perlman, The Reasons I Won't Be Coming
“Cuando te separas nunca tienes en cuenta la posibilidad de que al dejar lo mejor que has tenido hasta entonces, no tendrás nada mejor”
Elliot Perlman
“La habilidad para revivir estados emocionales del pasado es un talento a la vez que una maldición. Es una maldición porque no te permite seguir adelante con tu vida. Cada corte, cada moretón, cada rechazo produce una cosecha que luego se almacena. El dolor se guarda congelado y conserva el mismo sabor que tuvo el día que nos lo hicieron”.”
Elliot Perlman, Seven Types of Ambiguity
“Everyone was always hungry. The poorer you were, the hungrier you were, and with the hunger came weakness and irritability. It became difficult to think clearly and you needed to think clearly to work out how to survive the next day, how to get food. You were sure you could still work if you could find work, and you could look for it if only you could eat. But how were you going to get food, for yourself, for your children, for your wife or husband, for your parents? There were simply too many people within those walls for the calories that were let in. How were you to get food when there just wasn't enough of it? What were you going to have to do? With hunger of this severity came fatigue, a weakness that transcended tiredness and permeated your sinews and bones. As your limbs got ever lighter, they felt progressively heavier with each new day.”
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper

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