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Florence King

  • ... to a Southerner it is faux pas, not sins, that matter in this world.

  • ...because the theater lost a Barrymore every time a Southerner decided not to go on the stage, just about anything that comes out of a Southern mouth is bound to be a ringing line.

  • Southerners have a genius for psychological alchemy. ... If something intolerable simply cannot be changed, driven away, or shot, they will not only tolerate it but take pride in it as well.

  • Oppressed people are treacherous for the simple reason that treachery is both a means of survival and a way to curry favor with one's oppressor.

  • Nothing is more likely to start me screaming like a madwoman than New York in February with its piles of blackened snow full of yellow holes drilled by dogs.

  • We exchanged wary stares: two people in search of a wavelength.

  • ... agoraphobia was my quirky armor against a gregarious America ...

  • Episcopalians have always preferred the flying buttress to the pillar of the church.

  • [On her first day of kindergarten:] I wasn't used to children and they were getting on my nerves. Worse, it apppeared that I was a child, too. I hadn't known that before; I thought I was just short.

  • Resistance to team play seemed to pour like wet cement through my bones, displacing supple marrow, until I was ballasted with my own contempt.

  • Families composed of rugged individualists have to do things obliquely ...

  • In the South, Sunday morning sex is accompanied by church bells.

  • It was a Victorian parlor maid's nightmare, marked by the kind of decor involving the word 'throw.' Throw pillows, throw covers, throw cloths ... Next to throw, the operative word was 'occasional.' Occasional tables, occasional chairs, occasional lamps; footstools, hassocks, stacked trays, wheeled teacarts, and enough card tables to start a gambling den.

  • He travels fastest who travels alone, and that goes double for she.

  • Spinsterhood is Nature's Own Feminism.

  • Recently while browsing in a secondhand bookstore I bought a paperback copy of The Intellectual and the City, but I was unable to read it. When I got home I discovered that the original owner had highlighted the entire book — literally. Every line on every page had been drawn through with a bright green Magic Marker. It was a terrifying example of a mind that had lost all power of discrimination.

  • Democracy is the fig leaf of elitism.

  • The copyeditor I drew was a brachycephalic, web-footed cretin who should have been in an institution learning how to make brooms.

  • I like to use as few commas as possible so that sentences will go down in one swallow without touching the sides ...

  • People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they're all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error. ... Since we're all human, since anybody can make mistakes, since nobody's perfect, and since everybody is 'equal,' a human error is Democracy in Action.

  • Wit goes for the jugular, not the jocular, and it's the opposite of football; instead of building character, it tears it down.

  • The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.

  • For men who want to flee the Family Man America and never come back, there is a guaranteed solution: homosexuality is the new French Foreign Legion.

  • Updike's style is an exquisite blend of Melville and Austen: reading him is like cutting through whale blubber with embroidery scissors.

  • Of all the benefits of spinsterhood, the greatest is carte blanche. Once a woman is called 'that crazy old maid' she can get away with anything.

  • A home without a grandmother is like an egg without salt ...

  • Americans worship creativity the way they worship physical beauty — as a way of enjoying elitism without guilt: God did it.

  • I don't mind being regarded as perverted and unnatural, but I would die if people thought I was a Democrat.

  • In the last few years, race relations in America have entered upon a period of intensified craziness wherein fear of being called a racist has so thoroughly overwhelmed fear of being a racist that we are in danger of losing sight of the distinction.

  • The more immoral we become in big ways, the more puritanical we become in little ways.

  • ... Americans respect talent only insofar as it leads to fame, and we reserve our most fervent admiration for famous people who destroy their lives as well as their talent. The fatal flaws of Elvis, Judy, and Marilyn register much higher on our national applause meter than their living achievements. In Amerca, talent is merely a tool for becoming famous in life so you can become more famous in death — where all are equal.

  • If we define a misanthrope as 'someone who does not suffer fools and likes to see fools suffer,' we have described a person with something to look forward to.

  • Insecurity breeds treachery: if you are kind to people who hate themselves, they will hate you as well.

  • Familiarity doesn't breed contempt, it is contempt.

  • ... misanthropy is a realistic attitude toward human nature that falls short of the incontinent emotional dependency expressed by Barbra Streisand's anthem to insecurity, 'Peepul who need peepul are the luckiest peepul in the world.' Considered in this context, an examination of misanthropy has value for Americans who do not necessarily hate everybody, but are tired of compulsory gregariousness, fevered friendliness, we-never-close compassion, goo-goo humanitarianism, sensitivity that never sleeps, and politicians paralyzed by a hunger to be loved.

  • If you ever meet someone who cannot understand why solitary confinement is considered punishment, you have met a misanthrope.

  • My object is to live in a place that does not call itself 'the community with a heart.' I want one of those godforsaken towns where all the young people leave and the rest sit on the porch with a rifle across their knees.

  • There is more sexism in a year's worth of movies than actually exists in a woman's entire lifetime.

    • Florence King
  • The nice thing about Southerners is the way we enjoy our neuroses.

    • Florence King
  • I have always said that next to Imperial China, the South is the best place in the world to be an old lady.

    • Florence King
  • Insecure people are dangerous and it is best to stay away from them. Especially now, when there are so many of them, only a misanthrope can avoid being exsanguinated by their emotional demands.

Florence King, U.S. writer, journalist

(1936)