The authors’ original words do their work more justice than any book review I write, and when grouped together, the quotes become atmospheric of the state they are set in. I hope you enjoy this addition of a “Favorite Quotes” series to my Andrea Reads America coverage.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

From Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

“He had grown up in the Middle West, in a house dug out of the ground, with windows just at earth level and just at eye level, so that from without, the house was a mere mound, no more a human stronghold than a grave.”

“So the wind that billowed her sheets announced to her the resurrection of the ordinary.”

“Sometimes the sun would be warm enough to send a thick sheet of snow sliding off the roof, and sometimes the fir trees would shrug, and the snow would fall with surprisingly loud and earthy thuds, which would terrify my great-aunts.”

“Sylvie believed in stern solvents, and most of all in air. It was for the sake of air that she opened doors and windows.”

“There the wind would be, quenching the warmth out of the air before the light was gone, raising the hairs on our arms and necks with its smell of frost and water and deep shade.”

“It seemed to me that if she could remain transient here, she would not have to leave.”

“Sylvie was often at the lake. Sometimes she came home with fish in her pockets.”

“The frost is so thick that the grass cracks when you step on it.”

“Lot’s wife was salt and barren, because she was full of loss and mourning, and looked back.”

“What with the lake and the railroads, and what with blizzards and floods and barn fires and forest fires and the general availability of shotguns and bear traps and homemade liquor and dynamite, what with the prevalence of loneliness and religion and the rages and ecstasies they induce, and the closeness of families, violence was inevitable.”

“Now truly we were cast out to wander, and there was an end to housekeeping.”

The Jailing of Cecelia Capture by Janet Campbell Hale

From The Jailing of Cecelia Capture by Janet Campbell Hale

“‘Not poor? How can you sit there and say that with a straight face? Why I remember your momma told my momma once that your daddy got drunk and spent his paycheck and you had to pick up beer bottles alongside the road for lunch money and you had holes in the bottoms of your shoes. You had to line them with newspapers. If that ain’t poor, I sure don’t know what is.'”

“She had been the daughter of a half-insane, mean old woman and an ineffective alcoholic father, and she had grown up poor and unwanted. She had been an unmarried welfare mother and finally become a drunk herself.”

“She remembered the old man in the bar in the Mission District telling her, ‘We are the biggest tribe of all, us displaced ones, us urban Indians, us sidewalk redskins.'”

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

From Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

“It was Saturday night, and in preparation for the evening a number of the railroad gang from Meadow Creek were gathered at the hole, bathing with their clothes on and sitting themselves out on the rocks to dry before the last of the daylight left the canyon.”

“He liked the grand size of things in the woods, the feeling of being lost and far away, and the sense he had that with so many trees as wardens, no danger could find him.”

“The moss on the shingled roof of her home curled and began to smoke faintly. The logs in the walls stressed and popped like large-bore cartridges going off. On the table by the stove a magazine curled, darkened, flamed, spiraled upward, and flew away page by page, burning and circling.”

“‘I know everything,’ Heinz sputtered and fumed, somewhat like an automobile himself, and said, ‘I’m God!’
Grainier thought about how to answer. Here seemed a conversation that could go no further.”

“‘In a civilized place, the widows don’t have much to say about who they marry. There’s too many running around without husbands. But here on the frontier, we’re at a premium. We can take who we want, though it’s not such a bargain. The trouble is you men are all worn down pretty early in life.'”

“God needs the hermit in the woods as much as He needs the man in the pulpit.”

“He very often wept in church. Living up the Moyea with plenty of small chores to distract him, he forgot he was a sad man. When the hymns began, he remembered.”

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