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Donald E. Westlake quotes (showing 1-30 of 55)

“Nobody gets everything in this life. You decide your priorities and you make your choices. I'd decided long ago that any cake I had would be eaten.”
Donald E. Westlake, Two Much
“My mother believed in all superstitions, plus she made some up.”
Donald E. Westlake
“What advice I would give to anybody about anything. Life is a slow-motion avalanche, and none of us are steering." (When asked in an interview about what question he's tired of being asked.)”
Donald E. Westlake
“His eyes were eggy with blue yolks.”
Donald E. Westlake
“A lady doctor in the foreground, black horn-rims and white lab coat, suddenly cried, “You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Do you realize what you're doing to the reality concepts we're trying to instill in these people? How do you expect them to differentiate between illusion and reality when you do something like this?””
Donald E. Westlake, The Hot Rock
tags: humor
“It was apparent...that, all over America, thousands of people threw down a book or got up from a television show and said, 'I can write better than that!' It was amazing how many of them were wrong.”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs
“Hispanics have a long tradition of defiance against authority. Come to that, the Irish and Italians and Jews also have a long tradition of defiance against authority. Thinking it over, everybody has a long tradition of defiance against authority. (Except the Germans, of course.)”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs
“Two solid weeks of beautiful weather. Clear sunny days, low humidity, temperature in the seventies, air so brisk and clean you could read E PLURIBUS UNUM on a dime across the street. Clear cloudless nights, temperature in the fifties, the sky a great soft raven’s breast, an immense bowl of octopus ink salted with a million hard white crystalline stars and garnished with a huge moon pulsing with white light. It was disgusting.”
Donald E. Westlake, Drowned Hopes
“Story ideas had never been a problem for him, there'd always been more ideas than time to write them, he'd reject one perfectly good notion because he fell more simpatico toward a different one. But of course he could never go back to any of those ancient story stubs, they wouldn't still have juice in them.

For him, creating a novel was like gardening; you choose your seed, you treat it exactly the way the package says, and gradually a thing of beauty - or of sturdiness, or of nutrition - grows up and becomes yours. The seed you don't nurture doesn't wait to be doted over later; it shrivels and dies.”
Donald E. Westlake, The Hook
“(Novelists, when their characters drive cars, never feel compelled to describe precisely what the physical actions are of hands, feet, eyes, knees, elbows. Yet many of these same novelists, when their characters copulate, get into such detailed physical description you’d think they were writing an exercise book. We all know the interrelation between the right ankle and the accelerator when driving a car, and we needn’t be told.”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs
“Zachary’s partner, a younger man with a moustache named Freedly— Well, no. The man was named Freedly. Zachary’s partner, a younger man named Freedly with a moustache— Zachary’s partner, a moustached younger man named Freedly— Freedly said, “Have you got the ring on you?”
Donald E. Westlake, Why Me?
“huddled together at the left end of the bar, as silent and miserable as kittens in a sack with the bridge getting close.”
Donald E. Westlake, Watch Your Back!
“May knew John had a very bad tendency, when things got unusually difficult, to sink with an almost sensuous pleasure into a warm bath of despair. Once you’ve handed the reins over to despair, to mix a metaphor just a teeny bit, your job is done. You don’t have to sweat it any more, you’ve taken yourself out of the game. Despair is the bench, and you are warming it.”
Donald E. Westlake, What's So Funny?
“You wanna know what’s happening to New York?” he asked. “I tell you what you do. You go to a used-magazine store, you look at the covers of science fiction magazines from the thirties. That’s what’s happening to New York.”
Donald E. Westlake, The Road To Ruin
“They turned and found themselves facing a bullet head on an ICBM body lumpily stuffed into a black shirt and a brown suit. It was as though King Kong were making a break for it, hoping to smuggle himself back to his island disguised as a human being.”
Donald E. Westlake, Drowned Hopes
“That’s a geometric figure, that bird, he don’t exist without an angle.”
Donald E. Westlake, The Hot Rock
“had been happy to play the part of a Brontë heroine if it meant she wouldn’t have to learn how to cook.”
Donald E. Westlake, The Road To Ruin
“telling the jokes—was the setups. Why were that priest, that rabbi, and that minister walking down that street? Where were they headed? How had they happened to come together? What odd chance had put ex-presidents Bush, Clinton, and Carter on that same plane?”
Donald E. Westlake, The Road To Ruin
“If buyer’s remorse ever accomplished anything in this world,” Max said, “we’d all still be living in caves.”
Donald E. Westlake, Watch Your Back!
“Dortmunder had helped by expressing doubts. “If the Puerto Ricans all come here,” he’d said, for instance, “how come it’s such a hot idea for us to go there?” Another time, he’d expressed the opinion that airplanes were too heavy to fly, and a little later he’d pointed out he didn’t have a passport. “You don’t need a passport,” May told him. “Puerto Rico’s part of the US.” He stared at her. “The hell it is.” But it turned out she was right about that; Puerto Rico wasn’t exactly a state, but it was something in the United States of America—maybe it was “of.”
Donald E. Westlake, Nobody's Perfect
“However, inflation and unemployment have affected the shopping centers at least as much as the rest of the economy, so that here and there among the brave enticements stood a storefront dark, silent, its windows black, its forehead nameless, its prospects bleak. The survivors seemed to beam the more brightly in their efforts to distract attention from their fallen comrades, but Dortmunder could see them. Dortmunder and a failed enterprise could always recognize one another.”
Donald E. Westlake, Nobody's Perfect
“an old Underwood office machine so big and black and ancient it looked as though it should come with a foreign correspondent attached.”
Donald E. Westlake, Watch Your Back!
“Dortmunder followed Kelp as he carried the tray down along the bar past the regulars, where the third was now saying, “The idea of the flat tax is, you just pay the same as one month’s rent.”
Donald E. Westlake, Get Real
“I sat up and the room was full of a man with a gun.”
Donald E. Westlake, Somebody Owes Me Money
“Apart from the scenic majesty of the mountainous countryside, unspoiled by modern, conveniences, there is also the small but vibrant capital city of Quetchyl (pronounced “Clutch”), with its many squares and plazas, each with its magnificent statue of President Malagua, sometimes astride a horse and sometimes not astride a horse.”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs
“Well, you might not think it to look at me,” Dortmunder told him, “but I got a family crest.” “Have you?” “Yeah. And it’s got a motto on it.” “I am anxious to hear this motto.” “Quid lucrum istic mihi est.” Mr. Hemlow squinted; the red-headed hawk in flight. “I’m afraid my Latin is insufficient for that.” “What’s in it for me,” Dortmunder translated.”
Donald E. Westlake, What's So Funny?
“The office containing these two men was of such hushed opulence that it seemed as though their words were borne to one another on small plush pillows.”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs
“a whole lot of ideas isn’t a plan. A plan is a bunch of details that mesh with one another, so you go from this step to this step like crossing a stream on a lot of little boulders sticking out, and never fall in. Ideas without a plan is usually just enough boulders to get you into the deep part of the stream, and no way to get back.”
Donald E. Westlake, What's The Worst That Could Happen?
“since dispassionate self-knowledge is not a quality held in much esteem by the majority of the human race,”
Donald E. Westlake, Get Real
“Good God!” he said. “Are you a faculty wife?”
Donald E. Westlake, Dancing Aztecs

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