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Margaret Millar

  • Common sense is a vastly overrated virtue. I myself prefer the spark of genius.

  • ... the emotions at death, as at birth, are instinctive and primitive.

  • The day will probably come when you can tell everything about a person from his dreams except his age and weight.

  • The inexplicable isn't the impossible.

  • While lesser women were subtly subtracting a year here and a year there, Miss Bonner did not hesitate to add ten years when the spirit moved her. After all, if one couldn't retain the privileges of extreme youth one might as well claim those of extreme age. The result was that at the age of sixty-five Miss Bonner was variously credited with seventy to eighty-five years and people agreed that she was remarkably well preserved.

  • Civilization has imposed countless restrictions and conventions on each of us, with the result that the subconscious in the majority of us has become a storage room without a key. We are forced to suppress or forget so many events and ideas and thoughts that those to which we should have access are lost in the welter. However, there are people who seem capable of unlocking this part of their minds and extracting relevant information.

  • ... most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness ...

  • When you're counting alibis and not apples, one plus one equals none.

  • Mr. Goodwin was filled with the profound bitterness found only in an insomniac contemplating a sleeping fellow human.

  • Suspicions grew in Edith's mind like little extra eyes.

  • You have what is known as a lot of character, meaning you can be wrong at the top of your lungs.

  • He could fling words across the room like knives.

  • Money was her drug, and spending it was her method of escaping from her life. The department stores and antique shops and French salons and auction houses, all intoxicated her. Like a drunk who doesn't care what he drinks as long as it contains alcohol, she bought without discrimination, without restraint. Later, when she took her purchases home and unwrapped them, her euphoria would evaporate and she would be left with a hangover.

  • The smell of moist earth and lilacs hung in the air like wisps of the past and hints of the future.

  • The sun was shining like a congratulation.

  • For your own good. What a ghastly phrase that was. It covered the most barbarous and inhuman cruelties ever inflicted.

  • No one had ever been able to escape from young Mr. Shoemaker's inexorable politeness.

  • That's what a conscience is made of, scar tissue ... Little strips and pieces of remorse sewn together year by year until they formed a distinctive pattern, a design for living.

  • Miriam's only fault is a habit of pushing the truth out in front of her like a wheelbarrow.

  • Dalloway's face tightened like a fist ...

  • Silence settled on the courtroom like snow.

  • She has the hide of a rhinoceros, as so many people do who confuse sensitivity with egocentricity.

  • Shrews are made, not born.

  • Flattery was such a rare treat to Ethel that she ate it up raw like caviar.

  • ... the smell of lilacs crept poignantly into the room like a remembered spring.

  • Violence is the instinctive response to fear.

  • One drink and she was a drunk. She'd been a drunk for thirty years and didn't find it out until then.

  • He was the wren and the rain, he was the wind and the trees bending under the wind. He was split in two, the mover and the moved, the male and the female.

  • ... she was the kind of woman who liked to ask questions to which she already knew the answers. It gave her a sense of security.

  • 'Mother means to do the right thing.' Dorothy paused and let the implication go on without her, like a riderless horse: but she never does, of course.

  • Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines.

  • Harry was extremely liberal with free pills, diagnoses and advice. On occasion, he was more effective than a regular doctor, since he was unhampered by training, medical ethics or caution, and some of his cures were miraculously quick. These were the ones his friends remembered.

  • Any good marriage involves a certain amount of play-acting.

  • Private problems don't constitute an excuse for bad manners.

  • Sanity is a matter of culture and convention. If it's a crazy culture you live in, then you have to be irrational to want to conform. A completely rational person would recognize that the culture was crazy and refuse to conform. But by not conforming, he is the one who would be judged crazy by that particular society.

  • People, alas, are more impressed by statistics than they are by ideas.

  • I wish people would quit telling me to think. I think. Thinking's easy. It's not thinking that's hard.

  • The sheriff's an eager beaver who couldn't build a dam if his life depended on it.

  • When someone gives me three reasons instead of one, I'm inclined not to believe any of them.

  • To the uneducated eye, as to the incurious mind, much of the world is in darkness, and a thousand songs are lost on the unlistening ear.

  • There is no such thing as an ex-exhibitionist.

  • Perfect young men don't get murdered, they don't even get born.

  • If you go around looking for accidents, asking for them, they can't be called accidents any more.

  • Day after day she dragged her trouble over to our house like a sick animal she couldn't cure, couldn't kill.

  • Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans.

  • She had a point and Aragon guessed that she would cling to it even if it impaled her.

  • You can't drown your troubles ... because troubles can swim.

  • I didn't mind giving up carnality, jewelry and red meat in return for comradeship and an afterlife.

  • I've reached the age where anyone who lets me talk seems like an old By listening to my memories, you have become part of them.

  • ... I can't always take Emilia's word for things. Her great passion makes fires in her mind and you can't poke around until the ashes cool.

  • Years flowed in and flowed out of his mind like tides, leaving pools of memories full of small living things.

  • Don't borrow trouble. The interest is too high.

  • Sighing was, he believed, simply the act of taking in more oxygen to help the brain cope with an unusual or difficult set of circumstances.

  • Eyes ... small and dark and liquid, like drops of strong coffee.

    • Margaret Millar

Margaret Millar, Canadian-born U.S. writer

(1915 - 1994)

Full name: Margaret Ellis Sturm Millar. She and Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald) were married. I’d’ve loved to have had dinner with them.