And it seemed then, with the affectionate gesture, the reassuring smile that accompanied it, the pleasant walk home, that the episode was closed, the incident over, but what incident, where flattery, even of a dubious nature, is involved, is ever over for a woman? What episode, in which she’s admired, however obliquely, is ever really ended? She will reopen what seems to you a finished chapter, and manage somehow, to add a disconcerting epilogue to some drama you assumed was done with quite some time ago.
– p. 40, In Love, Alfred Hayes
Because she wanted everything, and it seemed to her she had nothing. She wanted what was certainly not too much to ask of even a grudging world: a home, another husband, another child. …the second child, when its small image took shape for her as she lay on the studio couch in her apartment… was to be a beautiful, talented, charming, healthy, thoroughly wonderful replica of herself. And of course, to be happy; that was what she wished most for it; not deliriously happy, she was much too realistic, she told herself, to expect that; but happy, quietly happy, beautifully happy, genuinely happy. Wasn’t that little enough to ask? A world notoriously ungenerous could hardly refuse her that. The secret was, of course, to extend toward the invisible benefactor always a diffident palm. Besides, she was beautiful. Men, who said almost everything to her, and if she knew them long enough eventually the truth, always said to her that she was beautiful: it was something she remained for them, always, no matter how many other things she stopped being. Then why was everything so difficult? Why did the diffident palm return empty? Why were the alms she asked, the simple alms, refused her? Why, being beautiful, and why, being young, and why, being faithful and reasonably good and reasonably passionate, was it so hard to gouge out of the reluctant mountain her own small private ingot of happiness?
– p. 14-15, In Love, Alfred Hayes
But in my fancy, the owner [of the cafe]… must surely be a man, perhaps the woman’s husband or someone she lived with. Perhaps consumed with jealousy he had shut himself off behind the wall. Imagining the eyes of the customers creeping over his wife’s body, he was surely agonizing behind the wall. Perhaps there was a peephole somewhere in the wall through which he secretly observed the customers. Otherwise, there was no need for her to be perched like a bed, her legs exaggeratedly crossed, on the high, round stool which had been installed in front of the counter… She was worth being jealous of. Even I, who had no relationship with her at all, could only be jealous – in spite of myself.
Of course, if I could remove the wall, things would be resolved at once. … Without the wall the girl’s performance would at once appear rather artificial, and depending on the man’s attitude, quite comical. Of course, the price would be high. Her worth would be reduced by half at least. On consideration, her being worth jealousy was a part of her value, and it would be a severe loss. Regardless of who was responsible for the performance on the stool the man would never give up his own place. He is compensated in his own way by locking jealousy behind the wall with its agonizing thoughts.
– p. 281-282, The Ruined Map, Kobo Abe
“…and what, finally, are human relations but the desire in each of us to exercise absolute power over others?”
– Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal, p. 79
Gold ambled away with a barren smile and the dreary intuition that the day was fast approaching when at Victor’s tearful bidding, he would have to elucidate for Muriel the distinction between a whore and a cunt and illustrate how it was possible to be one without also being the other.
– p. 290, Good As Gold, Joseph Heller
“The way she looked at me set the glasses of grenadine rattling and the first one slipped to the edge of the tray, slowly tipped over, and spilled into her lap…. She took a glass of grenadine and poured it over her head and into her hair, and then another glass, and she was covered with raspberry syrup and soda-water bubbles. The last glass of raspberry grenadine she poured down the inside of her dress, then she asked for the bill. She walked out with the aroma of raspberries trailing behind her, out onto the street in that silk dress covered with peonies, and the bees were already circling her…
I found her standing in the square surrounded by wasps and bees like a booth selling Turkish honey at a village fair, but she made no effort to brush them away as they ate the sugary juice that coated her like an extra skin… I saw how the sun had dried the raspberry grenadine in her hair and made it stiff and hard, like a paintbrush when you don’t put it in turpentine, like gum arabic when it spills, like shellac, and I saw that the sweet grenadine had stuck her dress so tightly to her body that she’d have to tear it off like an old poster, like old wallpaper. But all that was nothing to the shock I felt when she spoke to me.”
p. 18-9, I Served the King of England, Bohumil Hrabal