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Omensetter's Luck Omensetter's Luck by William H. Gass
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Omensetter's Luck Quotes Showing 1-21 of 21
“I don't know myself, what to do, where to go... I lie in the crack of a book for my comfort... it's what the world offers... please leave me alone to dream as I fancy.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“...yes, words were superior; they maintained a superior control; they touched without your touching; they were at once the bait, the hook, the line, the pole, and the water in between.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Look: if a bird were to rub its beak on a limb, you’d hear it—sure—and if a piece of water were to move an unaccustomed way, you’d feel it—that’s right—and if a fox were to steal a hen, you’d see-you’d see it—even in the middle of the night; but, heaven help you, if a friend a friend—god—were to slit your throat with his—his love—hoh, you’d bleed a week to notice it.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“How fares the thumb, boy? well? Aye, merry, ’tis the sign of the penis. With the women, look you, observe the ear. The parts appear and come together. So obesity and malice. So grumbling and nagging. So gossip, envy, spite, and avarice. Slowly settling into. So feminine weakness. Heartless piety. Savage morals. They come together. No more goody geedge. Ruthless, lifelong revenge. Zrrr. Grease in a cold pan. Stay off from gingerly lobed and delicately whorled ones. Thus appear the parts. Mind your uncle, boy, who knows. And the men then. Lewd speech and slovenly habits. And the peasant’s suspicion, his cruelty and rancor, his anger, drunkenness, pig-headed ignorance and bestiality. Inevitable they should be parts. Hoolyhoohoo. All in the normal course of nature. And they were saying we had evolved. What did it mean? But, he said in a voice that was clearly audible, I protest this world of unilluminated cocks. He caught the sense of his own words—so absurd—and his body began to shake—half in laughter, half in despair.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Every day he thought would last forever, and the night forever, and the dawn drag eternally another long and empty day to light forever; yet they sped away, the day, the night...”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
tags: day, night, time
“And how would he learn his history now? Imagine growing up in a world where only generals and geniuses, empires and companies, had histories, not your own town or grandfather, house or Samantha—none of the things you’d loved.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“The body of Our Saviour shat but Our Saviour shat not.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“I have never seen the Lord God. But I have seen Absalom alive in the tree.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Oh he was like them, like those laced-up ladies—warm from wards. A man, he still chewed the nipple, titillation, and risked no freer, deeper draught. Fearless in speech, he was cowardly in all else…ah, to be rich, luxuriant, episcopal…well, he’d conquered that by flight.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Why were they whining then?...whining, damn them, whining…
Because they’d have to give up their hope of living like an animal and return to an honest, conscious, human life. The prospect was hard.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“For suppose, and mind it narrowly, that life is simply a shadow bodies cast inside themselves when struck by all those queerly various bits and particles, those pieces, those streams of—what?—of science. Death in such a case would be only another arrangement.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“The ladies egged him on; in Eve's name, they dared him; so he made love with discreet verbs and light nouns, delicate conjunctions. They begged; they defied him to define...define everything. They could not be scandalized—impossible, they said. Indecent prepositions such as in, on, up, merely made them smile, and the roundest exclamation broke upon them like a bubble's kiss, a butterfly's. Smooth and creamy adjectives enabled them to lick their lips upon the crudest story. How charmingly you speak, Reverend Furber, how much you've seen of this wicked world, and how alive you are to it, they said.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Why have You made us the saddest animal? (...) He cannot do it, Henry, that is why. He can’t continue us. All He can do is try to make us happy that we die. Really, He’s a pretty good fellow.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“His dark room now seemed cool and restfully confining. You could imagine maps in the wallpaper. The roses had faded into vague shells of pink. Only a few silver lines along the vanished stems and in the veins of leaves, indistinct patches of the palest green remained—the faint suggestion of mysterious geography. A grease spot was a marsh, a mountain or a treasure. Irabestis went boating down a crack on cool days, under the tree boughs, bending his head. He fished in a chip of plaster. The perch rose to the bait and were golden in the sunwater. Specks stood for cities; pencil marks were bridges; stains and shutter patterns laid out fields of wheat and oats and corn. In the shadow of a corner the crack issued into a great sea. There was a tear in the paper that looked exactly like a railway and another that signified a range of hills. Some tiny drops of ink formed a chain of lakes. A darker decorative strip of Grecian pediments and interlacing ivy at the ceiling’s edge kept the tribes of Gog and Magog from invasion. Once he had passed through it to the ceiling but it made him dizzy and afraid. Shadows moved quixotically over the whole wall, usually from left to right in tall thin bands, and sank behind the bureau or below the bed or disappeared suddenly in a corner.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“He wanted to sink down and hug the coals to his chest. Flamboyant...coins of light...oil, wood, tatters...fumes from acids, soap, smoke...the sunlight shattered.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“He could have set fire to it, the garden was dry enough, and burned it clean—privet, vines, and weeds; but he waited in his rooms through the winter instead, weeping and dreaming.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Some screw for science only in the afternoon, while others keep their faith with evening—here Orcutt chuckled—it's a matter of light, I understand, but which makes which I can't remember.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
tags: sex
“Rancorous ivy. On the other side of the wall, at the edge of the river, the sand burned. The river lay afire. Kingfishers fell like spots across the eyes and laughter was yellow. Every Sunday Omensetter strolled by the river with his wife, his daughters, and his dog. They came by wagon, spoke to people who were off to church, and while Furber preached, they sprawled in the gravel and trailed their feet in the water. Lucy Omensetter lay her swollen body on a flat rock. Furber felt the sun lapping at her ears. It was like a rising blush, and his hands trembled when he held them out to make the bars of the cross. May the Lord bless you and keep you . . . He closed his eyes, drifting off. They would see how moved he was, how intense and sincere he was. Cause His light to shine upon you . . . He would find the footprints of the dog and imprint of their bodies. All the days of your life . . . The brazen parade of her infected person. Watchman. Rainbows like rings of oil around her. Watchman. Shouldn’t we be? I spy you, Fatty, behind the tree. He wanted to rub the memory from his eyes. Glittering. Beads of water stood on her skin and drop fled into drop until they broke and ran, the streaks finally fading. Her navel was inside out—sweet spot where Zeus had tied her. She was so white and glistening, so . . . pale, though darker about the eyes, the nipples dark. Open us to evil. He made a slit in his lids. Burn our hearts. Shawls of sunlight spilled over the backs of the pews. Nay-ked-nessss. The droplets gathered at the point of her elbow and hung there, the sac swelling until it fell and spattered on her foot. Nay . . . nay. To enclose her like the water of the creek had closed her. Nay . . . Proper body for a lover. Joy to be a stone. Please, the peep-watch is over. Please hurry now. Hurry. Get out of my church.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“The thought turned him topsy-turvy. It seemed to summarize the whole worthless way of the world--if there was one. And versions of it began to flutter wildly through his head. You have to look round to see straight. Good enough. Useful. And the rough places plain. But all that's geometry. But it measures the earth. You have to go slow to catch up. Eat to get thin? no, but fast to grow fat, that was a fine one. Then lose to win? fail to succeed? Risky. Stop to begin. The form made noiseless music--lumly lum lum or lum-lee-lee lum--like fill to empty, every physical extreme. Die to live was a bit old hat. But default to repay. And lie to be honest. He liked the ring of that. Flack! I'm white in order to be black. Sin first and saint later. Cruel to be kind, of course, and the hurts in the hurter--that's what they say--a lot of blap. That's my name, my nomination: Saint Later. Now then: humble to be proud; poor to be rich. Enslave to make free? That moved naturally. Also multiply to subtract. Dee dee dee. Young Saint Later. A list of them, as old as Pythagoras had. Even engenders odd. How would that be? Eight is five and three. There were no middle-aged saints--they were all old men or babies. Ah, god--the wise fool. The simpleton sublime. Babe in the woods, roach in the pudding, prince in the pauper, enchanted beauty in the toad. This was the wisdom of the folk and the philosopher alike--the disorder of the lyre, or the drawn-out bow of that sane madman, the holy Heraclitus. The poet Zeno. The logician Keats. Discovery after discovery: the more the mice eat, the fatter the cats. There were tears and laughter, for instance--how they shook and ran together into one gay grief. Dumb eloquence, swift still waters, shallow deeps. Let's see: impenitent remorse, careless anxiety, heedless worry, tense repose. So true of tigers. Then there was the friendly enmity of sun and snow, and the sweet disharmony of every union, the greasy mate of cock and cunt, the cosmic poles, war that's peace, the stumble that's an everlasting poise and balance, spring and fall, love, strife, health, disease, and the cold duplicity of Number One and all its warm divisions. The sameness that's in difference. The limit that's limitless. The permanence that's change. The distance of the near at home. So--to roam, stay home. Then pursue to be caught, submit to conquer. Method--ancient--of Chinese. To pacify, inflame. Love, hate. Kiss, kill. In, out, up, down, start, stop. Ah . . . from pleasure, pain. Like circumcision of the heart. Judgement and mercy. Sin and grace. It little mattered; everything seemed to Furber to be magically right, and his heart grew fat with satisfaction. Therefore there is good in every evil; one must lower away to raise; seek what's found to mourn its loss; conceive in stone and execute in water; turn profound and obvious, miraculous and commonplace, around; sin to save; destroy in order to create; live in the sun, though underground. Yes. Doubt in order to believe--that was an old one--for this the square IS in the circle. O Phaedo, Phaedo. O endless ending. Soul is immortal after all--at last it's proved. Between dead and living there's no difference but the one has whiter bones. Furber rose, the mosquitoes swarming around him, and ran inside.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Furber had come in the late fall following that enormous summer, now famous, in which the temperature had hung in the high nineties along the river for weeks, parching the fields, drying and destroying; weeks which had, unmindful of the calendar, fallen undiminished into October so that the leaves shriveled before they fell and fell while green, the river level fell, exposing flat stretches of mud and bottom weed, the Siren Rocks were seen for the first time in twenty years, quite round and disappointingly small, and an unmoving cover of dust lay thickly everywhere, on fields, trees, buildings, on the river itself which crawled beneath it blindly like a mole. -- William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck, p. 97, Penguin Twentieth Century Classics, 1997 (first published by The New American Library 1966).”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck
“Then Jethro Furber wondered whether Omensetter wasn't an actor.”
William H. Gass, Omensetter's Luck