A Widow's Story Quotes

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A Widow's Story A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates
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A Widow's Story Quotes (showing 1-30 of 31)
“There is an hour, a minute - you will remember it forever - when you know instinctively on the basis of the most inconsequential evidence, that something is wrong. You don't know - can't know - that it is the first of a series of "wrongful" events that will culminate in the utter devastation of your life as you have known it.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Our great American philosopher William James has said - "We have as many personalities as there are people who know us." To which I would add "We have no personalities unless there are people who know us. Unless there are people we hope to convince that we deserve to exist.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“I am made to think, not for the first time, that in my writing I have plunged ahead-head-on, heedlessly one might say-or 'fearlessly'- into my own future: this time of utter raw anguished loss. Though I may have had, since adolescence, a kind of intellectual/literary precocity, I had not experienced much;nor would I experience much until I was well into middle age-the illnesses and deaths of my parents, this unexpected death of my husband. We play at paste till qualified for pearl says Emily Dickinson. Playing at paste is much of our early lives. And then, with the violence of a door slammed shut by wind rushing through a house, life catches up with us.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“In our marriage it was our practice not to share anything that was upsetting, depressing, demoralizing, tedious—unless it was unavoidable. Because so much in a writer’s life can be distressing—negative reviews, rejections by magazines, difficulties with editors, publishers, book designers—disappointment with one’s own work, on a daily/hourly basis!—it seemed to me a very good idea to shield Ray from this side of my life as much as I could. For what is the purpose of sharing your misery with another person, except to make that person miserable, too?”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“In this way unwittingly the Widow-to-Be is assuring her husband’s death—his doom. Even as she believes she is behaving intelligently—“shrewdly” and “reasonably”—she is taking him to a teeming petri dish of lethal bacteria where within a week he will succumb to a virulent staph infection—a “hospital” infection acquired in the course of his treatment for pneumonia. Even as she is fantasizing that he will be home for dinner she is assuring that he will never return home. How unwitting, all Widows-to-Be who imagine that they are doing the right thing, in innocence and ignorance!”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“I am thinking of having a T-shirt printed: Yes my husband died. Yes I am very sad. Yes you are kind to offer condolences. Now can we change the subject?”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“This determination to manage—to cope—to do as much unassisted as possible—is the Widow’s prerogative. You might argue that it’s a sign of her wish to appear to be—which is not the same as being—self-sufficient; or you might argue that it is a symptom of her derangement. But then, in the early minutes/hours/days of Widowhood—what is not, if examined closely, a symptom of derangement?”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“The minutiae of our lives! Telephone calls, errands, appointments. None of these is of the slightest significance to others and but fleetingly to us yet they constitute such a portion of our lives, it might be argued that our lives are a concatenation of minutiae interrupted at unpredictable times by significant events.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Loving our parents, we bring them into us. They inhabit us. For a long time I believed that I could not bear to live without Mom and Dad—I could not bear to “outlive” them—for to be a daughter without parents did not seem possible to me.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“How strange it is, to be walking away. Is it possible that I am really going to leave Ray—here? Is it possible that he won’t be coming home with me in another day or two, as we’d planned? Such a thought is too profound for me to grasp. It’s like fitting a large unwieldy object in a small space. My brain hurts, trying to contain it.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“It's a taboo subject. How the dead are betrayed by the living. We who are living--we who have survived--understand that our guilt is what links us to the dead. At all times we can hear them calling to us, a growing incredulity in their voices, You will not forget me -- will you? How can you forget me? I have no one but you.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“But you are a solace just by existing, vividly in my thoughts if not here before me.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“The challenge is, to live in a house from which meaning has departed, like air leaking from a balloon. A slow leak, yet lethal. And one day, the balloon is flat: it is not a balloon any longer. By”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“For the widow inhabits a tale not of her own telling.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“For writing is a solitary occupation, and one of its hazards is loneliness. But an advantage of loneliness is privacy, autonomy, freedom.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Like editing, gardening requires infinite patience; it requires an essential selflessness, and optimism.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“The gardener is the quintessential optimist: not only does he believe that the future will bear out the fruits of his efforts, he believes in the future.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“The coolly calibrated manipulation of the credulous American public, by an administration bent upon stoking paranoid patriotism!”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“It may be that actual tears have stained the tile floors or soaked into the carpets of such places. It may be that these tears can never be removed. And everywhere the odor of melancholy, that is the very odor of memory.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Nowhere in a hospital can you walk without blundering into the memory pools of strangers—their dread of what was imminent in their lives, their false hopes, the wild elation of their hopes, their sudden terrible and irrefutable knowledge; you would not wish to hear echoes of their whispered exchanges—But he was looking so well yesterday, what has happened to him overnight—”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“It is utterly naive, futile, uninformed—to think that our species is exceptional. So designated to master the beasts of the Earth, as in the Book of Genesis!”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Hospital vigils inspire us to such nostalgia. Hospital vigils take place in slow-time during which the mind floats free, a frail balloon drifting into the sky as into infinity.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“How exhausted I am suddenly!—though this has been Ray’s best day in the hospital so far, and we are feeling—almost—exhilarated.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“That I was sleeping at a time when my husband was dying is so horrible a thought, I can’t confront it.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“She will speculate that she didn’t fully know her husband—this will give her leverage to seek him, to come to know him. It will keep her husband “alive” in her memory—elusive, teasing.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Still, I am angry with him. I am very angry with him. With my poor dead defenseless husband, I am furious as I was rarely—perhaps never—furious with him, in life. How can I forgive you, you’ve ruined both our lives.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“Nor do I like being told upsetting news—unless there is a good reason. I can’t help but feel that there is an element of cruelty, if not sadism, in friends telling one another upsetting things for no reason except to observe their reactions.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“it might be argued that our lives are a concatenation of minutiae interrupted at unpredictable times by significant events.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“stroke recently. A friend at least a decade”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story
“There are those—a blessed lot—who can experience life without the slightest glimmer of a need to add anything to it—any sort of “creative” effort; and there are those—an accursed lot?—for whom the activities of their own brains and imaginations are paramount. The world for these individuals may be infinitely rich, rewarding and seductive—but it is not paramount. The world may be interpreted as a gift, earned only if one has created something over and above the world.”
Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow's Story

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