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Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
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Dec 10, 2009

it was amazing
Read in October, 2008

Nobody’s Fool – Richard Russo

- (it) hadn’t been so much foolish as “visionary”, which, as everyone knew, was what you called a foolish idea that worked anyway. 8

- Somehow old people, once the revered repositories of the culture’s history and values, had become dusty museums of arcane and worthless information. 16

- We wear the chains we forge in life… 25

- ‘How will you know when you’ve died?’ – ‘I guess everything will stop being so goddamn much fun. 32

- …like most physical labor, there was a rhythm to it that you could find if you cared to look, and once you found this rhythm it’d get you through a morning. Rhythm was what Sully had counted on over the long years-that and the wisdom to understand that no job, no matter how thankless or stupid or backbreaking, could not be gotten through. The clock moved if you let it. 131

- Pain, he’d learned as a kid, would peak, and from that point forward it would get no worse. What you looked fro was the moment when the pain peaked and you realized you could stand it, that it wouldn’t kill you. 134

- Some phrases were truly magical in their ability to dredge up the past from the bottom of life’s lake, and for Sully, like all errant fathers, “Don’t tell your mother” was such a phrase. 173

- “Why would you want something you know’s bad for you?” – “Good question,” Sully admitted. I always do, though.” 181

- There were some things women just didn’t understand and you couldn’t teach them, and were better off not trying. (re: use of actual names v. nicknames ‘men’s names’) 211

- It didn’t pay to second-guess every one of life’s decisions, to pretend to wisdom abou the past from the safety of the present, the way so many people did when they got older. As if, given a second chance to live their lives, they’d be smarter. Sully didn’t know too many people who got noticeably smarter over the course of a lifetime. Some made fewer mistakes, but in Sully’s opinion that was because they couldn’t go quite so fast. They had less energy, not more virtue; fewer opportunities to screw up, not more wisdom. It was Sully’s policy to stick by his mistakes, which was what he did now. 254

- Don’t get stuck. Words to live by. 294

- … you missed what you didn’t have far more than you appreciated what you did have. It was for this reason he’d always felt that owning things was overrated. All you were doing was alleviating the disappointment of not owning them. 303

- On general principle he hated to go looking for trouble, but he was also aware that trouble could get worse if you let it find you. 324

- You can’t stand still in this life or you get run over. 340

- …life wasn’t a matter of simply avoiding mistakes, of losing credit, but rather of earning. 403

- “And now you know all the right things to say (to women)?”

“Nope. Just some of the wrong ones.” 425

- The more he thought about it, life’s truest meanings were all childhood meanings, childhood understandings of how things worked, what they were.

- … he doubted making people feel good was much of a talent. More tellingly, he understood that the mechanism behind making people feel good was providing them with an object lesson that things could be worse. 464

- He felt again, without fear, the play in the wheel, that he was neither in nor out of control. 474
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Lance Contrucci Great to read, thanks.

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