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Alice McDermott quotes Showing 1-30 of 213

“We are surrounded by story.”
Alice McDermott
“If you want to see how far we have not come from the cave and the woods, from the lonely and dangerous days of the prarie or the plain, witness the reaction of a modern suburban family, nearly ready for bed, when the doorbell rings or the door is rattled. They will stop where they stand, or sit bolt upright in their beds, as if a streak of pure lightning has passed through the house. Eyes wide, voices fearful, they will whisper to each other, "There's someone at the door," in a way that might make you believe they have always feared and anticipated this moment - that they have spent their lives being stalked.”
Alice McDermott
“My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child's need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents', my brother's, even Tom's, had failed to do. Love was required of me now--to be given, not merely to be sought and returned.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”
Alice McDermott
“The lesson, I suppose, is that none of us have much control over how we will be remembered. Every life is an amalgam, and it is impossible to know what moments, what foibles, what charms will come to define us once we're gone. All we can do is live our lives fully, be authentically ourselves, and trust that the right things about us, the best and most fitting things, will echo in the memories of us that endure.”
Alice McDermott
“It was not the future they'd been objecting to, but the loss of the past. As if it was his fault that you could now have one without the other”
Alice McDermott, After This
“For one of us at least, we knew, we were certain - this is how we saw the world - there would never again be loneliness in life.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“I suppose I've never set out to write a novel in which nothing happens . . . only to write a novel about the lives of certain characters. That nothing 'happens' in their lives is beside the point to me; I'm still interested in how they live, and think, and speak, and make some sense of their own experience. Incident (in novels and in life) is momentary, and temporary, but the memory of an incident, the story told about it, the meaning it takes on or loses over time, is lifelong and fluid, and that's what interests me and what I hope will prove interesting to readers. We're deluged with stories of things that have happened, events, circumstances, actions, etc. We need some stories that reveal how we think and feel and hope and dream. ”
Alice McDermott
“But Mrs. Meany, see, the women went on, leaning forward, despite how her heart was broken, pulled herself together, anyway, to put on a good face for the rest of the family at home. And she went back, Sunday after Sunday, right up until the Sunday before she died. Mrs. Meany put her beautiful love - a mother's love - against the terrible scenes that brewed like sewage in that poor girl's troubled mind. She persevered, she baked her cakes, she hauled herself (the goiter swinging) on and off the ferry, and she sat, brokenhearted, holding her daughter's hand, even as Lucy shouted her terrible words, proving to anyone with eyes to see that a mother's love was a beautiful, light, relentless thing that the devil could not diminish.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“It might have been the first time in my life I understood what an easy bond it was, to share a neighborhood as we had done, to share a time past.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“We turned onto the last landing. Going out with this guy, I thought, would involve a lot of silly laughter, some wit--the buzz of his whispered wisecracks in my ear. But there would be as well his willingness to reveal, or more his inability to conceal, that he had been silently rehearsing my name as he climbed the stairs behind me. There would be his willingness to bestow upon me the power to reassure him. He would trust me with his happiness.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“We are at the mercy of time, and for all the ways we are remembered, a sea of things will be lost. But how much is contained in what lingers!”
Alice McDermott
“Isn’t it funny how we all die at the same time? Always at the end of our lives. Why worry?”
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour
“It’s sometimes more torment for a man, Mr. Fagin said, to consider what might have been than to live with what is.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“It was in its strangeness and in its familiarity an illustration of someone else's life going on in its own way, steeped in itself, its own business, its own dailyness, its own particular sorrow or joy, all of it more or less predictable”
Alice McDermott, After This
“But love’s a tonic, Michael, not a cure. He was a bastard still.”
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour
“And then I saw him waving to us from behind the sky’s reflection.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“The world was a cruder, more vulgar place than the one I had known. This was the language required to live in it, I supposed.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“It was as if he stopped time for them two weeks out of every year, cut them off from both the past and the future so that they had only this present in a brand-new place, this present in which her children sought the sight and the scent of her: a wonderful thing, when you noticed it. When the past and the future grew still enough to let you notice it. He did that for her. This man she'd married.”
Alice McDermott, At Weddings and Wakes
“She recalled how Pauline had fallen off a bus one night, late, went skidding into Creedmoor. In a novel, it would have portended the fall they were all about to take”
Alice McDermott, After This
tags: after, this
“This was, I thought, the language of shy men, men too much alone with their reading and their ideas - politics, war, distant countries, tyrants. Men who would bury their heads in such stuff just to avert their eyes from a woman's simple heartache.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“His eyes went again to the crucifix above his head, reflected in the mirror. The strained arms, the arched spine. All that effort to open the gates of heaven for us and we (he thought) probably spend out first hours among the heavenly hosts settling old scores with relatives.”
Alice McDermott, After This
“There was tremendous affection in Billy's eyes, or at least they held a tremendous offer of affection, a tremendous willingness to find whomever he was talking to bright and witty and better than most”
Alice McDermott
“His love for his children bore down on his heart with the weight of three heavy stones. There were all his unnamed fears for them, and hopes for them. There was all he was powerless to change, including who they were--one too mild, one too easily tempted to be cruel, and the little girl (it was the weight of a heavy stone against his heart) a mystery to him, impossible to say what she, through her life, would need. And soon, one more.”
Alice McDermott, After This
“I’m sorry this happened to you, Marie,' he said wearily. 'There’s a lot of cruelty in the world.' And then he waved his hat to indicate the paths through the park and all the people on them. 'You’ll be lucky if this is your worst taste of it.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“She saw how the skim of filth, which was despair, which was hopelessness, fell like soot on the lives of the poor.”
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour
“The devil loves these short, dark days.”
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour
“The owner’s wife gave me a container of chicken soup and a quart of rice pudding to take home. She was a broad, solid woman with thick arms and legs. She swiped vigorously at the stain on my coat with a wad of dampened paper towel, and I remembered Pegeen then: There’s always someone nice.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“Billy didn't need someone to pour him his drinks, he needed someone to tell him that living isn't poetry. It isn't prayer. To tell him and convince him. And none of us could do it because every one of us thought that as long as Billy believed it was, as long as he kept himself believing it, then maybe it could still be true.”
Alice McDermott, Charming Billy
“Liz Tierney had nothing against the salvation of all men. She was as grateful for the fact of heaven as she was sure of her path toward it. She counted the Blessed Mother as first among her confidantes. She loved the order and the certainty the Church gave her life, arranging the seasons for her, the weeks and the days, guiding her philosophies and her sorrows. She loved the hymns. She loved the prayers. She loved the way the Church—the priests and the Brothers and the nuns, as well as the handy threat of eternal damnation—ordered her disorderly children. But holiness bored her.”
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour

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Someone Someone
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The Ninth Hour The Ninth Hour
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Charming Billy Charming Billy
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After This After This
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