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Jessamyn West

"Law to her was all Greek and turkey tracks."

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (1940)

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"... he landed on the French word the way a hen lands on the water, skeptical, but hoping for the best."

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (1940)

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"... tea strong enough for a mouse to trot over."

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (1940)

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"She intended to forgive. Not to do so would be un-Christian; but she did not intend to do so soon, nor forget how much she had to forgive."

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (1940)

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"Knowledge of what you love somehow comes to you; you don't have to read nor analyze nor study. If you love a thing enough, knowledge of it seeps into you, with particulars more real than any chart can furnish."

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (1940)

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"A little money's like a little snow, Lucy. Unless it's added to, it melts away."

Jessamyn West, A Mirror for the Sky (1948)

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"She laid her hand across her open book feeling that the words there were so strong and beautiful that they would enter her veins through her palms and so flow to her heart. "

Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty (1948)

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"There were clearly two classes of people in the world: those for whom the world was magnified and enriched in words and those who could never find the beautiful world of their living and knowing on any sheet of paper."

Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty (1948)

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"... the source of one's joy is also often the source of one's sorrow."

Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty (1948)

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"At fourteen you don't need sickness or death for tragedy."

Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty (1948)

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"It was a little like living with a cross between Martha Graham and Groucho Marx: dancing with a wisecrack."

Jessamyn West, Cress Delahanty (1948)

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"Christmas, like love, was a mystery. Time and again it might disappoint, but like love only the promises of the Christmas to come, never the disappointments of those past, seemed real."

Jessamyn West, The Witch Diggers (1951)

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"For love expended, one did not have to receive a return; as if love were a mortgage clapped onto the loved one and paying interest at an approved rate. Love expended, whether there were any returns or not, increased, within the loving heart, the store of love available ..."

Jessamyn West, The Witch Diggers (1951)

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"You're not called on to like everything in this world. Nor to speak up about all you don't like."

Jessamyn West, The Witch Diggers (1951)

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"In my opinion the world has been steadily going downhill since the discovery of sugar."

Jessamyn West, The Witch Diggers (1951)

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"Marriage, after the first few years, becomes more than the two people involved in it. Something emerges from their effort to live together, even from their misunderstandings and bickerings and failures, something that transcends the particular husband and wife. For a while, when you're first married, you have to protect your marriage, believe in it, even when it appears to wither, to shed all its first tender leaves. Then, if you care for it, it will take root, begin to grow, and finally, and perhaps in spite of you, outstrip you, arch over your head, and become a protection. You two small ones will find refuge and solace in it."

Jessamyn West, "Love," in Elizabeth Bragdon, ed., Women Today (1953)

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"The West is color ... Its colors are animal rather than vegetable, the colors of earth and sunlight and ripeness. Tawny, buff, ocher, umber, tan, beige, sienna, sorrel, bay, blood-bay, chestnut, roan, palomino: the colors of objects bleached, sun-drenched, dry, aromatic, warm; the color of stubble fields, of barley, of foothills, of sage, of ocean and desert sands; colors capable of reflecting light like a mirror."

Jessamyn West, "The West -- A Place to Hang Your Dreams," in Woman's Home Companion (1956)

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"Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"People who keep journals have life twice."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"If you want a baby, have a new one. Don't baby the old one."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures ..."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor -- for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"Suffering is also one of the ways of knowing you're alive."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"Anyone with a real taste for solitude who indulges that taste encounters the dangers of any other drug-taker. The habit grows. You become an addict. ... Absorbed in the visions of solitude, human beings are only interruptions. What voice can equal the voices of solitude? What sights equal the movement of a single day's tide of light across the floor boards of one room? What drama be as continuously absorbing as the interior one? "

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"I understand hermits, but not people who can't understand hermits."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"The writer must be willing, above everything else, to take chances, to risk making a fool of himself -- or even to risk revealing the fact that he is a fool."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"We can love an honest rogue, but what is more offensive than a false saint?"

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"There are two barriers that often prevent communication between the young and their elders. The first is middle-aged forgetfulness of the fact that they themselves are no longer young. The second is youthful ignorance of the fact that the middle aged are still alive."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"It is so easy for a middle-aged person, in the presence of youth, to be deluded about his own age. The young faces are so exactly like the one he saw in his own mirror -- only day before yesterday, it seems."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"No one can be taught to be a writer. But it is possible to learn to write better."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"I am sad for people who do not like to be in the sun. It's a free intoxicant."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"... there is a hard clear rationality about Quakers -- and, indeed, all mysticism, which, once experienced, makes other ways appear indirect, childish, and crude."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"Our three horses are as unlike as three persons. Perhaps more so, since they don't read, listen to radio or TV ... They don't try to talk like Flicka, walk like Trigger, or eat like Silver."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"All agree that it is wrong to be bound to Hollywood; though no one has suspected that the bonds, instead of money or fleshpots or easy work, might be the joys of shared effort. I give something which, though my own, becomes part of something beyond me; and Hollywood's pull for me becomes the pull felt by the member of any order."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"... I thought movie making might be for the twentieth century what cathedral building was for the Middle Ages."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"... poetry requires two readers. They need to be read aloud, to be sung, cried, bellowed; they need to be exclaimed over. Prose can be read alone, as one can eat a sandwich alone; but poetry is an intoxicant, and solitary drinking is a vice."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"A movie is a guess at an echo. We guess at the reverberation of its impact upon an audience."

Jessamyn West, To See the Dream (1957)

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"There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as exist ... lead through ... the jungles of the self, the world, and of craft."

Jessamyn West, in Saturday Review (1957)

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"The emotion, the ecstasy of love, we all want, but God spare us the responsibility."

Jessamyn West, Love Is Not What You Think (1959)

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"We find what we search for -- or, if we don't find it, we become it."

Jessamyn West, Love Is Not What You Think (1959)

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"The tragedy of our time is not that we are so eye centered, so appearance besotted. The tragedy is that we do not know what we like until we are told by our advertisers and entertainers."

Jessamyn West, Love Is Not What You Think (1959)

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"... it is the loving, not the loved, woman who feels lovable."

Jessamyn West, Love Is Not What You Think (1959)

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"... we are forever in the dark about what touch means to another. ... With touch, one enters at once a private and an ambiguous world ..."

Jessamyn West, Love Is Not What You Think (1959)

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"When Opal stepped down from the wagon, she gave Hannah a hug and Hannah, who was solid, co-operated by making herself as compressible as possible. The fun in squeezing was, she knew, that something gave."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"He moved forward to greet his guests with that extra heartiness which the host who has had some inhospitable qualms always assumes."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"Opal lived in her house like an egg in a shoe box, curves enhancing corners."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"Joicey, trying to be reasonable, always melted Shel's heart -- like a bird trying to plow, a baby wanting to pitch hay."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"How anybody with one kid ever finds a chance to get another beats me. I never laid down with you in my life but some kid comes busting in."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"... Asa had looked into the face of many a religious man without being able to detect a thing there except a lifelong satisfaction in eating fried chicken and talking about sin. "

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"It took an alert person to find anything in that house; the demands of life were not watered down by deciding once and for all where everything was to be kept. 'A place for everything and everything in its place' is a help to the tired and slow-witted. None of the Raunces were. They lived like hunters in a forest, never sure of what they would find behind the next tree."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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" A teaser is always asking for a response from somebody without having to take any responsibility for it ..."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"Dying, when you came down to it, was a job. It took planning and attention and energy -- like setting up housekeeping or planting corn."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"I don't think you ought to tell yourself too many things. You've got to listen to what things tell you once in a while."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"Bad and good, loving and unloving, ugly and handsome are not so separated as lucky and unlucky. She felt cold around the heart. Those miserable ones for whom nothing ever went right, whose stores burned down, whose wives had female diseases, whose children whined, who were themselves stricken with kidney disease, beaten in horse trades, burdened with cows that soured and tobacco that mildewed, who got sick on good whisky, broke wind in company and were constipated in private, this was the common run of mankind, and after tomorrow morning, he, who had lived in his pride of being above such men, would be right down in their midst."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"Character is nothing but habit. Strong when habit is strong."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"... in her opinion a man who made the love of God and a show of goodness his paying profession got more and more professional and less and less loving and good."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"A jokester needs to see two things at once, appearance and reality."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"There is nothing better than to have a daughter and to love her. She is on your side forever."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"His own hair imitated a toupee better than any toupee ever imitated hair."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"'Here's Pete, Junior, your son and heir,' Doc had said, and held up something that looked like a slippery fish in a wig."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don't, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions."

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"A religious awakening which does not awaken the sleeper to love has roused him in vain. "

Jessamyn West, South of the Angels (1960)

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"... at an age when all is known to more gifted assimilators, the plodding experiencers are still making exciting discoveries."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"Summer on the desert dies like a snake. You think it's done for, dead as a doornail, then there comes another fierce burst of life. And even that violent lashing may not be final."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"Everett was chiefly a romanticist, and I chiefly a sentimentalist. One looks to the future; the other to the past; and the present, on the unlikely chance that both ever happen to be in it at the same time, is, under such circumstances, foredoomed to be disappointing. "

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"Applause is nothing compared with laughter. Anyone can clap hands, and the mind be miles away. A laugh comes right from the center. No wonder comedians love their audiences."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"None but the lonely heart, they say, keeps a diary. None but a lonelier heart, perhaps, reads one. The diary keeper has no one to speak to; the diary reader has no one who speaks to him. The diary writer is at least talking to himself. The diary reader is listening to a man talking to himself."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"Sometimes you don't know that the house you live in is glass until the stone you cast comes boomeranging back. Maybe that's the actual reason you threw it. Something in you was yelling, 'I want out.' The life you saved, as well as the glass you shattered, was your own."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"... an autumn day on the desert contains every season. ... Before dawn it was bitter winter, with the stars sparkling in the black desert sky. At six there was a short spring. The mountains were rosy and suddden thunderstorms moving down from Snow Peak dampened the sand and set loose the scents of all the countless flowers that had blossomed and perished there. By noon it was blazing summer. ... Sundown would bring the day and the season into some congruity. Dusk brought not only nightfall, but the year's fall as well, a real autumn of an hour's duration. "

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"... the mind needs room to turn around in, and when the future doesn't provide this dimension, one chooses of necessity whatever spaciousness the past affords."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"She is a gray cat, but around her eyes the fur is black, so that she looks a little like those fifteen-year-olds who believe that being Cleopatra is mostly a matter of mascara."

Jessamyn West, A Matter of Time (1966)

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"July was the month when summer, like bread in the oven, might change color, but it would rise no higher. It was at its height."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"You can no more put a sense of time into a man who doesn't have it than you can put tides in a pond."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"Kissing was like death from lightning. If it happened, you didn't know it. And vice versa."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"Her frame and features when moving, talking, feeling were like the pebbles at the bottom of the branch: not worth a glance without the living water that flowed over them."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"They were always reading the law to her at home, which might not have been so bad if her father and mother had read from the same book."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"If God had made a woman before he made a man, that might've been the end of creation. A woman, used to having the run of the Garden, and all of its say-so to herself, might've raised Jesse with God if she'd been roused up one morning to find a rib missing, and a man there to spoil the quiet and mess up the neatness and to pounce on her in the one-flesh act."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"Some folk are always thirsting for water from other people's wells."

Jessamyn West, Leafy Rivers (1967)

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"A good time for laughing is when you can."

Jessamyn West, Except for Me and Thee (1969)

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"She had less rise to her than a buckwheat cake. After an evening with Emily he began to appreciate the merits of disorder and hard cider."

Jessamyn West, Except for Me and Thee (1969)

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"Victory is a matter of chance; but truth, if a man so elects, he can have at any time. "

Jessamyn West, Except for Me and Thee (1969)

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"The prohibition against solitude is forever. A Carry Nation rises in every person when he thinks he sees someone sneaking off to be alone. It is not easy to be solitary unless you are also born ruthless. Every solitary repudiates someone."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Alone, alone, oh! We have been warned about solitary vices. Have solitary pleasures ever been adequately praised? Do many people know that they exist?"

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Solitude, like a drug, can be addictive. The more you have it, the more you want it. "

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"... when the opportunity for solitude must be stolen, as for the most part it must in large families or even in small families of one husband and one wife, it is, like stolen fruits, very sweet."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"I understand why one wants to know the names of what he loves ... Naming is a kind of possessing, of caressing and fondling."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"... the superhighway is our true sacrificial altar."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Was Thoreau never lonely? Certainly. Where do you think writing like his comes from? Camaraderie?"

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"She believed in excess. How can you tell whether or not you have had enough until you've had a little too much?"

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"One man's enough is another's privation."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Mama enjoyed bandying words. In fact, there was scarcely anything she enjoyed more. She made up words from scratch, by combining words, by turning them upside down, by running them backward. She built word palaces. Structures came out of her mouth like Steinberg pictures: wobbly, made of material fabricated on the spot, and no more useful than a poem."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"I seem to be the only person in the world who doesn't mind being pitied. If you love me, pity me. The human state is pitiable: born to die, capable of so much, accomplishing so little; killing instead of creating, destroying instead of building, hating instead of loving. Pitiful, pitiful."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Writing my name I raise an edifice / Whose size and shape appear to me / As homelike as the hexagon the bee / Builds for his own and honey's use."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Almost all travel is lost on teen-agers. ... The young do not discover the world. They discover themselves, and travel only interrupts their trips to the interior."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Perhaps burglars are solitaries, and theft is only a sideline with them. The real high comes not from the money or the tape recorders, but from being alone where they ought not to be."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Why do men resist putting gas in their cars until the last minute? ... There's not much left in life for men to gamble about. They can gamble about the gas."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Sex and religion are bordering states. They use the same vocabulary, share like ecstasies, and often serve as a substitute for one another."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Visitors to Los Angeles, then and now, were put out because the residents of Los Angeles had the inhospitable idea of building a city comfortable to live in, rather than a monument to astonish the eye of jaded travelers."

Jessamyn West, Hide and Seek (1973)

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"Cry for joy in April, / Cry for death in fall. / Birth's an open gateway, / But death's a solid wall."

Jessamyn West, "For Every Fallen Thing," The Secret Look (1974)

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"Why is pain / Durable / Beyond love and poetry?"

Jessamyn West, "To Dull by Anticipation," The Secret Look (1974)

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"Love is all things / Both high and low / And nothing else / Can hurt you so."

Jessamyn West, "Counting Out Rhyme," The Secret Look (1974)

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"All darkness is a beauty. / All lightness is a duty."

Jessamyn West, "All Darkness Is a Beauty," The Secret Look (1974)

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"Cold is a tooth of silver / that bites like crimson flame, / a savage tooth of silver / that only June can tame."

Jessamyn West, "Cold," The Secret Look (1974)

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"Justice is a terrible but necessary thing."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"Bandying words with Jud Clasby would be like trying to outgrunt a pig."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"His mouth was as thin as the cutting edge of an axe and it turned down at the corners in the same way."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"She had a plump little mouth like a buttonhole worked with a heavy satin stitch."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"But February was like a snake with a broken back. It could still bite."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"Winter could drop down out of a clear sky, sharp as an icicle, and, without a sound, pierce your heart."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"Reason to the lovesick was fire to the feverish. It sent them clean out of their minds. "

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"The words a man speaks are always more comforting than the words he hears."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"Lawyers' work required sharp brains, strong vocal chords, and an iron butt."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"He thinks he's finer than frog hair."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"What's too much for the law to see is too much for the law to require."

Jessamyn West, The Massacre at Fall Creek (1975)

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"The sick soon come to understand that they live in a different world from that of the well and that the two cannot communicate."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Sleeplessness is a desert without vegetation or inhabitants."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Dying is a short horse and soon curried. Living is a horse of another color and bigger."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Both Grace and I 'took on' when in pain. We were Irish. We didn't wait for the wake to wail. We wailed while we were still hurting, not leaving all the work for others after we were past helping."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Groan and forget it."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"Sister, dear sister, come home and help me die."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"When death threatens, when a good-bye is faced, how one searches the past for images, begins to shoal up the past for future use."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but there is more grace in receiving than giving. When you receive, whom do you love and praise? The giver. When you give, the same holds true."

Jessamyn West, The Woman Said Yes: Encounters with Life and Death (1976)

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"The body's language is stronger than sounds shaped by the tongue and teeth."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"I never meet anyone nowadays who admits to having had a happy childhood."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Abel was a dog poisoner. It sometimes works out that way. A man wants to have some direct connection with life. If he can't bring life into being, he'll put an end to it. In that way he's not completely powerless. Some men can start it. Others can end it."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"In their sympathies, children feel nearer animals than adults."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"We love those we feed, not vice versa; in caring for others we nourish our own self esteem. Children are dependent upon adults. It's a craven role for a child. It's very natural to want to bite the hand that feeds you."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"I was no more musical than a muskrat ..."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"A rattlesnake that doesn't bite teaches you nothing ..."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"And if kissing and being engaged were this inflammatory, marriage must burn clear to the bone. I wondered how flesh and blood could endure the ecstasy. How did married couples manage to look so calm and unexcited?"

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Teaching is the royal road to learning."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Round, gray, plump-jowled like a grandmother, she washed, ate, and saw to it that she and her offspring went outside for calls of nature as regularly as any privy-bound housewife. With a recipe written in cat language, she could have baked cookies or fried a chicken."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Pleasure in irony, either in your own life or in what you read, is an ego trip. 'I know what others do not.'"

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"You make what seems a simple choice: choose a man or a job or a neighborhood -- and what you have chosen is not a man or a job or a neighborhood, but a life."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Memory is a magnet. It will pull to it and hold only material nature has designed it to attract."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Nothing ruins a face so fast as double-dealing. Your face telling one story to the world. Your heart yanking your face to pieces, trying to let the truth be known. One eyelid'll hang down lower than the other, one side of your mouth'll stay stiff while the other smiles. I know a dozen cases like that."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"I've done more harm by the falseness of trying to please than by the honesty of trying to hurt."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Nothing is so dear as what you're about to leave."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Did California cause any of this? No, though it does seem to draw to it people with unusual inclinations."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Delay breeds fear."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Every arrival foretells a leave-taking: every birth a death. Yet each death and departure comes to us as a surprise, a sorrow never anticipated. Life is a long series of farewells; only the circumstances should surprise us."

Jessamyn West, The Life I Really Lived (1979)

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"Letters tell you what the writer thinks of the recipient; journals tell you who the writer is."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"You travel to discover yourself. At home there is known to you only the girl you remember. Who you really have become, you do not know. When you travel, that person emerges: she is mirrored in the faces of people you meet."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"The middle-aged bring to the idea of travel the romanticism with which they once gilded the idea of meeting a new man. Something will happen, they know not what."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"I'm a reader, not a listener. But apart from that, I do believe that what is written to be read tends to be better than what is written to be spoken."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"The born traveler shouldn't be a besotted reader. Traveling interrupts reading."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"Letters are a cross between saying what you can't keep quiet about and what you think the recipient would like to hear."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"If I had been told that Hemingway was seated at the next table, I would certainly have stared my eyes out. And perhaps been disappointed in what I saw. The best of a good writer -- and Hemingway was a great one -- goes into his writing. What's left over may be less than an eyeful."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"Something else I don't understand -- Paris traffic. ... First, I waited for ten minutes on the curb. Then I discovered how to cross a street. You look an approaching taxi driver in the eye; with your unwavering glance, you mesmerize him as you would a wild animal. Then, with your glance never wavering, you continue in front of his now slowing car. He stops. He dares not run over anyone who looks him straight in the eye; should your glance waver, he'd run you down in a minute."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"I have always been better able to confront the disaster that is real than the one I imagine."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"I think that it is terrible to want to have your cake and eat it, too. So I put my cake on a very high shelf; always being careful, however, that a tall stool is nearby."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"I am always jumping into the sausage grinder and deciding, even before I'm half ground, that I don't want to be a sausage after all."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"We travel not to discover new lands or new people, but new selves."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"Letters strike me as an attempt to tell others how you are. Journals are an attempt to discover who you are."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"... my story, as Mama would have said, was a short horse and soon curried."

Jessamyn West, Double Discovery (1980)

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"The conversation of two people remembering, if the memory is enjoyable to both, rocks on like music or lovemaking. There is a rhythm and a predictability to it that each anticipates and relishes."

Jessamyn West, The State of Stony Lonesome (1984)

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"Love is like the measles. It's catching."

Jessamyn West, The State of Stony Lonesome (1984)

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"Birdeen fainted the way other people took a nap. She wouldn't take a rest of her own free will. Nature gave her a rest by letting her lie down unconscious for a few minutes. "

Jessamyn West, The State of Stony Lonesome (1984)

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"Writing fiction is an almost certain way of making a fool of yourself."

Jessamyn West, introduction, Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"It takes all kinds, I understand. Some want to live dangerously and some want to live. "

Jessamyn West, "Foot-Shaped Shoes," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"I believe, in spite of everything, we all half expected to escape. More than half expected, believed completely. Thought it would come to everyone else, but pass us by. Without us, without me, how's anything else to exist?"

Jessamyn West, "The Linden Trees," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"You can only write about what you don't know, and find out about it in the writing."

Jessamyn West, "Breach of Promise," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"Miss McManaman had gazed at Ada's face. It had every appurtenance faces have, yet it seemed primitive: an early, trial face to which, century after century, endearing and humanizing details would be added. It was a small granite face, made by a hurried man with a sharp chisel."

Jessamyn West, "The Singing Lesson," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"... it is worse to have a good thing that is not true believed about you, than a bad."

Jessamyn West, "Reverdy," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"... pity can bind you closer than love. You feel that you owe more to pity than you do to love. Love gives you joy; pity, pain. And isn't what pain says more to be trusted than what joy says?"

Jessamyn West, "Up a Tree," Collected Stories of Jessamyn West (1986)

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"If you like a book, maybe you'd better not meet the writer because she's only what's left over; most of her has gone into the book."

Jessamyn West

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Jessamyn West, U.S. novelist, poet, librettist, screenwriter
(1902 - 1984)

Full name: Mary Jessamyn West McPherson.