Rebecca Makkai Rebecca Makkai > Quotes


Rebecca Makkai quotes (showing 1-26 of 26)

“I believed that books might save him because I knew they had so far, and because I knew the people books had saved. They were college professors and actors and scientists and poets. They got to college and sat on dorm floors drinking coffee, amazed they'd finally found their soul mates. They always dressed a little out of season. Their names were enshrined on the pink cards in the pockets of all the forgotten hardbacks in every library basement in America. If the librarians were lazy enough or nostalgic enough or smart enough, those names would stay there forever.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“And second, everyone is so weird, but they're all completely accepted. It's like, okay, you have a pumpkin head, and that guy's made of tin, and you're a talking chicken, but what the hell, let's do a road trip.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“I might be the villain of this story.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“...all I knew were novels. It gave me pause, for a moment, that all my reference points were fiction, that all my narratives were lies.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Like a good American, I wanted to sue somebody. But like a good librarian, I just sat at my desk and waited.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Maybe that's why I prefer this new library to my own bedroom: looking at the million book spines, I can imagine a million alternate endings. It turned out the butler did it all, or I ended up marrying Mr. Darcy, or we went and watched a girl ride the merry-go-round in Central Park, or we beat on against the current in our little boats, or Atticus Finch was there when we woke up in the morning.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“I'd forgotten that all runaway stories end like this. Everyone goes home. Dorothy clicks her way back to Kansas, Ulysses sails his way home to his wife, Holden Caulfield breaks into his own apartment ... Here I was, just like Ian, just like Dorothy and everyone else, heading back home at last ... You think you can't go home again? It's the only place you can *ever* go.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“So here, patient listener: your soothing epilogue. Imagine him happy. Imagine him spinning in circles... Imagine his heaven, where he can float through characters and books at will. (Let's dream him up a king, a giant, a boy who can fly.) Imagine him already there, under his covers with the flashlight.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Isn't it what all librarians strive toward, at least in the movies and cliches? Silence, invisibility, nothing but a rambling cloud of old book dust.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“You realize something once, when you are nine, and then you realize it again when you are ten, and you realize when you are eleven, twelve, but every year you see that what you thought you understood a year ago, no, wait it is ten times worse. And your heart fills up with lead.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Ian once suggested that in addition to the mystery stickers and the sci-fi and animal ones, there should be special stickers for books with happy endings, books with sad endings, books that will trick you into reading the next in the series. 'There should be ones with big teardrops,' he said, 'like for the side of Where the Red Fern Grows. Because otherwise it isn't fair. Like maybe you're accidentally reading it in public, and then everyone will make fun of you for crying.' But what could I affix to the marvelous and perplexing tale of Ian Drake? A little blue sticker with a question mark, maybe. Crossed fingers. A penny in a fountain.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“I refused to have bookshelves, horrified that I'd feel compelled to organise the books in some regimented system - Dewey or alphabetical or worse - and so the books lived in stacks, some as tall as me, in the most subjective order I could invent.
Thus Nabokov lived between Gogol and Hemingway, cradled between the Old World and the New; Willa Cather and Theodore Dreiser and Thomas Hardy were stacked together not for their chronological proximity but because they all reminded me in some way of dryness (though in Dreiser's case I think I was focused mainly on his name): George Eliot and Jane Austen shared a stack with Thackeray because all I had of his was Vanity Fair, and I thought that Becky Sharp would do best in the presence of ladies (and deep down I worried that if I put her next to David Copperfield, she might seduce him).”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“On my mental instant replay, I realized that obliquely comparing his family to the Nazis was maybe not my finest moment.
He was quiet a second, and then he said, 'Did you know that Hitler anted to be an artist, but since he couldn't get into art school, he turned into a Nazi?'
'Yes, I remember that.'
'Just imagine if he got into art school, the whole world would be different.'
I said, 'It just shows that people should be allowed to be who they are. If they can't, then they turn into nasty, sad people.'
He started to laugh. 'What if you went to the art gallery, and the guy was like, "Here you see a beautiful Monet, and here on your left is an early Hitler." Wouldn't that be weird?'
I couldn't think of any subtle way to turn it back around again.
He said, 'You would go to the gift shop and buy Hitler postcards, and you'd go, "Oh, look at this beautiful Hitler. I'm going to hang it in my room!" And people would wear Hitler t-shirts.'
'Yes,' I said. 'That would have been better.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Very few writers thank their mothers for keen editorial insight; I'm happy to be the exception.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“If there was a common thread between the great warriors and runaways of my Hulkinov ancestors, and my father the pathological expatriate, and me, it was just that: hotheaded self-righteousness. And not the bad kind, either. We actually were right. We just cared more about being right than doing what was right. And we cared more about being right than about our own lives.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Because what it's come down to, after that whole messy spring, that whole tortured summer, all the time since, is this: I no longer believe I can save people. I've tried, and I've failed, and while I'm sure there are people out in the world with that particular gift, I'm not one of them. I make too much of a mess of things. But books, on the other hand: I do still believe that books can save you.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“And for what portion of human history had people even had desk jobs?”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“He started Number the Stars before we were even out of the store. "The only problem is, I already know how it ends," he said. "Because once when I looked at it back at the library, I found out."
"I do that too," I said. "It's a bad habit."
"But I never mean to." He was walking, talking, and reading all at the same time. "It's that I always have to look back and see how many pages there are, so I know when I'll be exactly halfway through, but then when I see the last page it's like my eyes suck up all the words.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“In a library in Missouri that was covered with vines
Lived thousands of books in a hundred straight lines
A boy came in at half past nine
Every Saturday, rain or shine
His book selections were clan-des-tine.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“I could put a book in his hands, but I couldn't take him by the ankles and dip him headfirst in another world. And for some reason, I knew even then that he needed it.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“These were wise, modern children, and they knew: a mother could be a witch, a child could be a criminal. A librarian could be a thief.”
Rebecca Makkai
“She had abruptly flipped from the southern belle and was now putting on the extremely businesslike air of those perfectionist women who'd only worked in the professional world for two or three years before stopping to have children and were now terrified of not being taken seriously.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
tags: women
“Because I couldn't think of anything nonprofane to say at that moment, I said nothing.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“I no longer believe I can save people. I've tried, and I've failed, and while I'm sure there are people out there in the world with that particular gift, I'm not one of them...But books, on the other hand: I do still believe that books can save you.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“Without knowing I was going to, I started to laugh, a crazy laugh like Ian's the night before, and at first he looked worried, but then he started too. Even with the wind whipping past the station, even with Ian hugging his backpack to his chest for warmth, we were laughing, and not a laughter of release or a laughter that was really sadness in disguise. It was the laugh of the absurd. Your grandmother is a seventeen-year-old boy? That creepy Russian man just paid for your ticket? Ferret-Glo?”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower
“And for what portion of human history had people even had desk jobs? Maybe the last four hundred years, out of four million? It wasn’t natural.”
Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower


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