Uncompromising purpose and the search for eternal truth have an unquestionable sex appeal for the young and high-minded; but when a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane--in the cigarette on the stoop or the gingersnap in the bath--she had probably put herself in unnecessary danger.
If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us...then there wouldn't be so much fuss about love in the first place.
In our twenties, when there is still so much time ahead of us, time that seems ample for a hundred indecisions, for a hundred visions and revisions—we draw a card, and we must decide right then and there whether to keep that card and discard the next, or discard the first card and keep the second. And before we know it, the deck has been played out and the decisions we have just made will shape our lives for decades to come.
But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect's ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of the finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)? So removed from daily life was the whole experience that when all was rotten to the core, a fine dinner could revive the spirits. If and when I had twenty dollars left to my name, I was going to invest it right here in an elegant hour that couldn't be hocked.
But the Count hadn’t the temperament for revenge; he hadn’t the imagination for epics; and he certainly hadn’t the fanciful ego to dram of empires restored. No. His model for mastering his circumstances would be a different sort of captive altogether: an Anglican washed ashore. Like Robinson Crusoe stranded on the Isle of Despair, the count would maintain his resolve by committing to the business of practicalities. Having dispensed with dreams of quick discovery, the world’s Crusoes seek shelter and a source of fresh water; they teach themselves to make fire from flint; they study their island’s topography, it’s climate, its flora and fauna, all the while keeping their eyes trained for sails on the horizon and footprints in the sand.
For wasn't it just a matter of time before we crossed each other's path? Despite all the hoopla, wasn't Manhattan just ten miles long and a mile or two wide? So in the days that followed, I kept an eye out, I looked for his figure on the street corners and in the coffee shops. I imagined coming home and having him emerge once more from the doorway across the street. But as the weeks turned into months, and the months into years, this sense of anticipation waned, and slowly but surely, I stopped expecting to see him in a crowd.
For wasn't it just a matter of time before we crossed each other's path? Despite all the hoopla, wasn't Manhattan just ten miles long and a mile or two wide? So in the days that followed, I kept en eye out, I looked for his figure on the street corners and in the coffee shops. I imagined coming home and having him emerge once more from the doorway across the street. But as the weeks turned into months, and the months into years, this sense of anticipation waned, and slowly but surely, I stopped expecting to see him in a crowd.
--You're rather well read for a working-class girl, she said with her back to me. --Really? I've found that all my well-read friends are from the working class. --Oh my. Why do you think that is? The purity of poverty? --No. It's just that reading is the cheapest form of entertainment. --Sex is the cheapest form of entertainment. --Not in this house.
Katey's the hottest bookworm you'll ever meet. If you took all the books that she's read and piled them in a stack, you could climb to the Milky Way.
[...]education will give you a sense of the world's scope, of its wonders, of its many and varied ways of life.
...education will give you a sense of the world's scope, of its wonders, of its many and varied ways of life.
As a youth, I always did a good deal of reading in the summer months, having suffered since birth from an allergy to athletic activity.
Of course, you wouldn't want to re-create the era of aristocracy; it was a totally unfair era. The finer aspects of it were admirable, and so there's nostalgia for that: the behavior, the values, the cultural sensitivities.
Dad has worked as a banker at the same firm in Boston, living in the same suburban neighborhood for over 50 years. Later in life, when I got out of graduate school and imagined myself living the life of a writer like Hemingway or Kerouac, his practical self inevitably encouraged me to get a steady a job and raise a family, just like he did.
One restaurant I visit without fail, whenever I'm in the Bay Area, is the Boulevard at 1 Mission Street, a few strides from the waterfront. It has excellent food and wine very much in the modern California style, but I go there less for any one dish than for the pleasure of dining with the restaurant's chefs.
As a traveler, I should probably count myself fortunate to be living in the jet age, and as an author, I know I am lucky to have a book tour at all.
In 1989, I had a fellowship to teach for Yale in China for two years. I came back from California to New Haven to spend the summer learning Chinese, but because of Tiananmen Square, Yale cancelled the program.
By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration but our reconsideration.
Some writers such as John Cheever and Raymond Carver seem to draw artistic energy from analyzing the realm of their own experiences - their social circles and memories and mores. I'm one of those who draw creative energy from the opposite.
While I began writing 'Rules of Civility' in 2006, the genesis of the book dates back to the early 1990s, when I happened upon a copy of 'Many Are Called,' the collection of portraits that Walker Evans took on the New York City subways in the late 1930s with a hidden camera.