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Helen McCloy

  • Every criminal leaves psychic fingerprints. And he can't wear gloves to hide them.

  • ... the small amenities and sensualities of life are more comforting in a crisis than any philosophy. She was fond of saying that there was no tragedy in this world that could not softened a little by a hot bath, a cup of strong coffee, and a good cigarette, while a couple of cocktails and a well-cooked dinner would mend a broken heart.

  • ... like most scientists, he imagines he can explain a thing by naming it ...

  • ... the fool is the one true cosmopolite — the one character common to all nationalities.

  • In a city you thought of all life as human life. You had to live in the heart of the woods to realize that humanity was a slight ripple on the surface of a flood of life that seeped into every vacant crack, flowed into every biological vacuum the moment it occurred.

    • Helen McCloy,
    • Panic
    • ()
  • That's the worst thing about money — the moment you have some you begin to suspect everyone of trying to take it away from you. And usually they are.

  • To the Latin, cynicism and middle age are synonymous. Look at our politicians — they move through their careers from left to center to right, like the hands of a clock.

  • The author portrays himself in every line he writes and portrayal is always betrayal.

  • Even a small, everyday lie is a clue to the personality and preoccupations of the liar, like a dream or any other confection of the mind, that is half-conscious and half-unconscious, as all creative acts must be.

  • Wouldn't it be kinder to say that a lie is a short work of fiction? 'A story' as my daughter says?

  • ... fiction and lies are both works of creative art, and creation always reveals the creator.

  • ... the Hollywood idea of life was much more satisfactory than life itself. For years Vera had been trying to remold reality in the shape of a Hollywood film.

  • A critic is a person who rationalizes his likes and dislikes in such impressive language that the layman thinks he is reasoning instead of rationalizing.

  • Thunderstorms were rare in California, but when they came they were, like most things in California, larger than life.

    • Helen McCloy,
    • "Murder Ad Lib," in Ellery Queen's 20th Anniversary Annual ()
  • Nobody believes in ghosts, but everybody is afraid of them ...

  • At twenty your choices are almost unlimited. At fifty you're a prisoner of past decisions. At seventy you have no free will left at all.

  • ... the unconscious forces that govern accessible memory are the most arbitrary of editors and the absolute masters of our lives.

  • The experiences of the heartless are so limited. It is hate that is blind. Love may miss a flaw here and there, but hate misses beauty everywhere.

  • Other people's children, like other people's love affairs, were so much less interesting than one's own.

  • ... what you fear, you invite.

  • Civilization is a fiction which becomes a fact only as long as everyone can believe in it. It is the cynic, rather than the rebel, who pulls down the whole flimsy structure periodically throughout history.

  • Falling in love is like religious conversion. It goes on for a long time below the threshold before it reaches consciousness.

  • She was looking only for comfort now, and she was completely resigned to the knowledge that this is the beginning of old age.

  • Money is an acquired taste. But, once acquired, it becomes an addiction.

  • Were modern cities only beautiful after darkness hid everything but their lights?

  • Like all moralists, he had a touch of the voyeur in his nature.

  • Everything you do in a war is crime in peace.

  • Diamonds are the tears of the poor.

  • ... law is a substitute for love.

  • That's the one thing a politician mustn't have — political opinions or principles. He can have prejudices — indeed he must have prejudices and share all the popular political superstitions of the moment as ardently as he can. But he must not have principles. He must never let the people suspect that they cannot eat their cake and have it. He must promise them a defense program and a higher standard of living. He must never use that dreadful little word or.

  • Habit is far stronger than the lessons of experience.

  • There's always trouble in the Middle East. I can't recall any time in my life when there hasn't been trouble there.

  • ... money is an acquired taste that grows as it is fed.

  • Never return in August — / Along the leaves will be rust / And over the hedges, dust, / And, in the air, vague thunder and silence burning ... / Choose some happier time for your returning.

  • ... most of our social and educational institutions are designed to weed out or make over people ... until we produce a world where everyone is a smart, quick-witted, aggressive person living on the surface of the mind without ever looking into the depths.

  • Privacy is like sleep — something you don't appreciate until you have to go without it.

  • ... the true and the plausible are rarely the same.

  • ... the old ploy of the powerful: never refuse when you can confuse. Distraction and delay are always better than obstruction.

Helen McCloy, U.S. writer

(1904 - 1994)

She sometimes wrote as Helen Clarkson.