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In Ireland a woman could raise hens and sell the eggs. Of course there were fights. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law disputing control of the hens, and some of those disputes were vicious; but still an egg is a pleasant thing to contemplate, warm in a straw nest, carrying all that power and history.
Angela Bourke, ‘Le Soleil et le Vent’, in By Salt Water
"There’s a name on every part of the hill. A name in Irish, that a man would know where he was, and if he saw a sheep lost there, or something else like that, he could tell the man that lost it, and him go straight to where it were, and take it with him."
Robert Bernen, ‘Brock’
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Behind the clouds, in the south, a clear patch was growing larger, and pretty soon emptiness would have the sky. That was the way, a dream of days followed by emptiness, the huge water turning over the grains of sand, neither one knowing which was big and which was small. Mr. Cheung was uneasy and sad. He would have to die, and the quiet knife of this fact wasn’t dissuaded by the interplay of milkiness and inkiness in the textures of the Atlantic under these clouds of October, or by his prayers, best wishes, or sorrow. His mood swelled and the action of the wind over the beach seemed full of power.
Denis Johnson, Fiskadoro
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I could not more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself and other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.
—Jane Austen, April 1816, in a letter to James Stanier Clarke, who had suggested that she write a historical romance.
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Entertainment is terrific, and lord knows there’s nothing more tedious than a preachy story. A story without plot, characterization, or emotional depth should never be written. But sf has occasionally been and increasingly will become much more than entertainment. It’s a tool for emotional and psychological exploration just as surely as the sailing ship was for exploring the world, or the space programme may be for exploring the solar system.
—Vonda N. McIntyre, ‘Potential vs. Actuality in Science Fiction’, from Nebula Award Stories (1975), ed. Ursula K. Le Guin
Time back way way back befor peopl got clevver they had the 1st knowing. They los it when they got the clevverness and now the clevverness is gone as wel.
Every thing has a shape and so does the nite only you cant see the shape of the nite nor you cant think it. If you put your self right you can know it. Not with knowing in your head but with the 1st knowing.
Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker
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When you call me Miss or Mrs.
You invade my private life,
For it’s not the public’s business
If I am, or was, a wife.
(Anon, quoted in Miller & Swift’s Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing.)
More at Sentence first: Ms., Mrs., and Missing options
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Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.
Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.
Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn the world into this world. (“This world”! As if there were any other.)
The world, our world, is depleted, impoverished enough. Away with all duplicates of it, until we again experience more immediately what we have.
Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
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I folded out of the next round and wandered into the kitchen, glass in hand. I’d seen enough, everything else was extra. Cissy was in the kitchen. She had a black Persian in her arms and she was purring along with the cat.
"Are we having fun?" she asked.
"Tons," I said. "I’ve got cramps I’ve been laughing so hard."
The old woman stared at me. It was a long, lingering kind of look that started at the top of my head and slid down until she’d untied the knots in my shoelaces and tied them back up again, all in her head, just to see what kind of knot tier I was.
W.R. Philbrick, ‘The Empty Sleeve’, from Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, edited by Byron Preiss
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Clarity depends on our making judicious use of all of a language’s resources. Words, grammar, rhythm, discourse, and stylistic level all play their part. It is never possible to identify a single dimension or principle of usage, or a cluster of ‘rules’, and say that these are obligatory features of clarity of expression. When people try to do this, they invariably end up … breaking the very principles they have themselves promulgated.
David Crystal, The Fight for English
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