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Paula Fox

  • My life was incoherent to me. I felt it quivering, spitting out broken teeth.

  • The truth came slowly like a story told by people interrupting each other.

  • A lie hides the truth, a story tries to find it ...

  • Imagination has to do with one's awareness of the reality of other people as well as of one's own reality. Imagination is a bridge between the provincialism of the self and the great world.

    • Paula Fox,
    • "To Write Simply," Horn Book Magazine ()
  • Eugenio knew a number of old ladies whose circumstances reminded him of all he had lost, and in whose houses his cold sycophancy, his careful foreigner's diction, his elaborate courtliness screened the cupidity, the longing, with which he noted every teacup, every bibelot, every scrap of evidence of the blissful oblivion which money only can bring.

  • Life is all getting used to what you're not used to.

  • To be human is to be in a story.

  • When there's a terrible murder people who are interviewed say, 'This has always been a quiet neighborhood.' That is so dumb and uninformed! The earth is not a quiet neighborhood. There isn't anyplace that's a quiet neighborhood. People are asking themselves how to stay neat in the cyclone.

    • Paula Fox,
    • in Melanie Rehak, The New York Times ()
  • And what movies we saw! All the actors and actresses whose photographs I collected, with their look of eternity! Their radiance, their eyes, their faces, their voices, the suavity of their movements! Their clothes! Even in prison movies, the stars shone in their prison clothes as if tailors had accompanied them in their downfall.

  • ... she spoke English with a foreigner's extreme caution, as though entering an unexplored forest full of dangers.

  • Now and then I asked a question. Daddy would preface his answer with the assertion, 'I hear what you're saying beneath that!' It gratified me with its implication that there was a deeper meaning to my words than even I understood. If only I could discover what I really meant!

  • A year and a half after the end of the war and the German occupation, Paris was muted and looked bruised and forlorn. Everywhere I went, I sensed the tracks of the wolf that had tried to devour the city. But Paris proved inedible, as it had been ever since its tribal beginnings on an island in the Seine, the Ile de la Cité.

  • When I had a few francs, I spent them at a café on the Place de Longchamps, a block or so from my pension, where I could order a glass of Beaujolais and a plate of string beans in vinaigrette for the equivalent of fifteen cents.

  • Freedom is a public library.

    • Paula Fox,
    • interview with Radhika Jones, "Borrowed Finery," Bookforum ()
  • If a person had accused him of meanness, he could have defended himself. But with a dog — you did something cheap to it when you were sure no one was looking, and it was as though you had done it in front of a mirror.

  • Perhaps dogs had thoughts. How else to explain the way Grace would suddenly rise from where she was lying and go to another room? Something must have occurred to her.

  • Life was an impenetrable mystery cloaked in babble.

  • ... we are, in this country, more open to new ideas. But we are also, it seems to me, more inclined to hail the new as absolute truth — until the next new comes along.

  • Labels not only free us from the obligation to think creatively; they numb our sensibilities, our power to feel. During the Vietnam War, the phrase body count entered our vocabulary. It is an ambiguous phrase, inorganic, even faintly sporty. It distanced us from the painful reality of corpses, of dead, mutilated people.

  • The language of labels is like paper money, issued irresponsibly, with nothing of intrinsic value behind it, that is, with no effort of the intelligence to see, to really apprehend.

  • Words are nets through which all truth escapes.

Paula Fox, U.S. writer

(1923)