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Lisa Alther

  • I wrote for 12 years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn't all that important to me.

  • I happen to feel that the degree of a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic.

  • If this was adulthood, the only improvement she could detect in her situation was that now she could eat dessert without eating her vegetables.

  • Dying was apparently a weaning process; all the attachments to familiar people and objects had to be undone.

  • Once again she decided not to decide. She preferred being compelled into her decisions.

  • A snake will always be a snake, even if you put a chain around its neck and try to make it walk upright.

  • Their civil discussions weren't interesting, and their interesting discussions weren't civil.

  • When she had been a child, children were expected to defer to their parents in everything, to wait on them and help around the house and so on; but when she became a parent and was ready to enjoy her turn at being deferred to, the winds of fashion in child rearing had changed, and parents were expected to defer to their children in hopes of not squelching their imagination and creativity. She had missed out all the way around.

  • Depression was a very active state really. Even if you appeared to an observer to be immobilized, your mind was in a frenzy of paralysis. You were unable to function, but were actively despising yourself for it.

  • Just as you began to feel that you could make good use of time, there was no time left to you.

  • The human organism has only so much energy at its disposal. If you divert a great deal of it into any one channel, you can expect the others to collapse or atrophy. If you squander your vital energies on your emotional life, as you have been doing, plan to be physically and mentally bankrupt, as it were.

  • She had learnt ... that it was impossible to discuss issues civilly with a person who insisted on referring to himself as 'we.'

  • Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.

  • What a surprise to find you could shift the contents of your head like rearranging furniture in a room.

  • The strength you've insisted on assigning to others is actually within yourself.

  • That's the risk you take if you change: that people you've been involved with won't like the new you. But other people who do will come along.

  • ... Clea was a woman who adored love. Hormones had always been her recreational drug of choice.

  • ... successful parenting was like log rolling, and she'd often landed in the drink.

  • If you kept moving, you never had to mourn what you were leaving behind.

  • ... inspiration never arrived when you were searching for it.

  • It was an old quandary for them. He needed sex in order to feel connected to her, and she needed to feel connected to him in order to enjoy sex.

  • The French would eat anything that couldn't outrun them.

Lisa Alther, U.S. novelist


Full name: Lisa Reed Alther.