Kugel thought specifically about the experience of dying. He thought about the pain, about the fear. Most of all, he thought about what he would say at the final moment; his ultima verba; his last words. They should be wise, he decided, which is not to say morose or obtuse; simply that they should mean something, amount to something. They should reveal, illuminate. He didn’t want to be caught by surprise, speechless, gasping, not knowing at the very last moment what to say.
No, wait, I oof.
I haven’t really given it much splat.
If I could just ka-blammo.
Shalom Auslander, Hope: A Tragedy (2012)
—I ever tell you about that time years ago I was on this ledge uptown trying to pull the damn psycho inside?
—You mean where the guy jumped and you almost fell? No, you never told me that story.
—[laughing] No, you never listened. So there I was. I put everything I had into saving this dumb-ass, low-life suicidal that when he went down, it was like I wanted to go with him.
—That happened once in Ireland. This girl jumped off the Cliffs of Moher and the wind blew her back up.
—The wind blew her back up?
—Yeah, the wind.
—No, that was Jesus, son.
—It was also the wind.
—The wind, my black ass. That was Jesus.
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Tickling is not a footnote in the story of laughter but at the very heart of it.
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Cartoon by Otto Soglow in The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925–1975
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Travel writer Honor Tracy was in Dublin once and needed the exact time. She asked a garda [police officer], who told her the exact time was between 2 and 3.
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The Honda 50 was a great ould yoke for the bad roads, and it gave the poor ould fellas a bit of freedom, which they used sparingly – often you would see a poor ould fella sitting on a Honda 50 rigid with fear, or perhaps with porter, or some combination of both, riding home at about eight miles an hour.
Declan Lynch with Arthur Mathews, The Book of Poor Ould Fellas
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'I must warn you, that we don't do anything political.'
'What I have written is not political.'
'What's the subject?'
'The subject is universal pity.'
Volodya’s expression was strained, as though he had entered his remark for an important prize, and could hardly believe that he wouldn’t receive it.
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Beginning of Spring (1988)
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The wombat lives across the seas,
Among the far Antipodes.
He may exist on nuts and berries,
Or then again, on missionaries;
His distant habitat precludes
Conclusive knowledge of his moods.
But I would not engage the wombat
In any form of mortal combat.
Ogden Nash, ‘The Wombat’
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