This section contains 2,062 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
"He felt that in all the vast and frozen space in which he lived his life - every hand needy, every heart wanting something from him - everybody had a reason to be and a place to land. Everybody but him. For him there was nothing. In all the cold and bitter world, there was not a single place for him to sit down." (Chapter 1, p. 4).
"The trick is to relax into the cold, accept that it had come and would stay a long time. To lean into it, as you might lean into a warm spring wind. The trick was to become part of it, so that you didn't end a backbreaking day in the cold with rigid, aching shoulders and red hands." (Ibid, p. 5).
"For twenty years he had not been kissed by anyone whose name he knew, and yet, even now, as the snow began to fall lightly, he remembered what it felt like, the soft giving of the lips, the sweet hunger of it." (Ibid, p. 12).
"He had sent her no photograph in return, nor had she asked for one. He had sent instead a ticket, sent it to the Christian boardinghouse in which she stayed in filthy, howling Chicago, and now he stood, a rich man in a tiny town in a cold climate, at the start of a Wisconsin winter in the year 1907. Ralph Truitt waited for the train that would bring Catherine Land to him." (Ibid, p. 13).
"Catherine Land liked the beginnings of things. The pure white possibility of the empty room, the first kiss, the first swipe at larceny. And endings, she liked endings, too. The drama of the smashing glass, the dead bird, the tearful goodbye, the last awful word which could never be unsaid or unremembered." (Chapter 2, p. 15).
"It was, she realized now, the beginning of desire. It was glory, the light, and the crimson clouds. It was the face of Jesus. It was love. Love without end. Desire without object. She had never known or felt it since." (Ibid, p. 19).
"She recounted her memories as they reeled into her past ... sewed them away as neatly as she had sewn her jewels in the hem of her skirt, needing to erase the intricacies of where she had been so she might become the simplicity of where she was going." (Ibid, p. 24).
"She could see the effort it cost him to keep his face composed, hopeful, and she could see the sadness that lay beneath the steely composure, the lack of life in him." (Chapter 4, p. 43).
"Her true heart, however, was buried so far inside her, so gone beneath the vast blanket of her lies and deceptions and whims. Like her jewels now beneath the snow, it lay hidden until some thaw might come to it. She had no way of knowing, of course, whether this heart she imagined herself to have was real in any way." (Ibid, p. 49).
"He loved sex and he hated it. He loved bad women because he didn't care if he destroyed them. There was a core of hatred in his hunger for them that never ever went away, a distaste that bit like sharp teeth, stabbed like needles, and still he couldn't stop." (Chapter 5, p. 60).
"She barely understood what he was saying. Her English was composed of manners and poetry and light, and she had no vocabulary to comprehend such darkness. All she knew was that she had been raised to be sold, and being sold to Ralph was certainly not the worst of her options." (Ibid, p. 64).
"His love died with Emilia, and with the child, but his desire flourished in the barren soil of his heart and its soft whispering never ceased in his ear." (Ibid, p. 66).
"He had believed his mother the way we all believe the people we love when they tell us who we are, believe them because what the beloved says is truth to us ... he told her of his dark and tortured desires, desires his mother had seen before he felt them, seen them in him as a baby, so that she would not pick him up or hold him, even then." (Chapter 7, p. 77.)).
"Something about his candor made her want to run away. She didn't want to know this story. She didn't want to hear the end. It made him too real. She didn't want to think of him as a person. She didn't want to hear his heartbeat." (Ibid, p. 79).
"He knew that she found him sexless, as frozen as the landscape, and he wanted to say, it isn't true, I would give everything I have to see you writhing on this floor, right now, and still he said nothing. He made no gesture that might be interpreted as leaning in to her in the slightest way." (Chapter 8, p. 88).
"The blue bottle fueled her; it was her simple, her only plan. The house would be hers. The pearls, the books and pictures, the fancy rugs from India and the East, and Truitt would be hers, too. But there would be no affection, no ambling toward a sweet old age. One drop. Two drops. That was the future." (Chapter 9, p. 108).
"In the country, there was insanity. There were fires and burnings and murders and rapes, unthinkable cruelties, usually committed by people against people they knew. It was at least personal. Here there was the heartless, sane, anonymous whir of the desolate modern machinery, the wheels and cogs, cold iron from Truitt's foundry. Here there was appalling poverty and gracelessness. She gave coins to the children. She couldn't look at the mothers." (Ibid, p. 117-18).
"...she knew they had been something to Truitt, some kind of release from his private agony, the opening of a window kept shut for too long. A homecoming. And, as always when she had given pleasure, she was happy to have given it. She knew the cost of solace in this world. She knew its rarity." (Ibid, p. 119).
"She thought of her life, her patchwork quilt of a life, pieced together from castoff scraps of this and that; experience, knowledge, clairvoyance. None if it made any sense to her. She had no knowledge of good. She had no heart and so no sense of the good thing, the right thing, and she had no field on which to wage the battle that was, in fact, raging in her." (Chapter 13, p. 146).
"She was not what she appeared to be to Ralph Truitt, but she was not what she appeared to be to Tony Moretti either, and she never stopped to wonder which self was her true self and which one was false." (Chapter 14, p. 159).
"He had sex because he was beautiful. It was beauty's burden to be made available. He had sex because there was a moment during the act of love in which he forgot who he was, forgot everything, forgot his father and his mother and his tiny idiot sister, forgot the beatings and the curses that Ralph had hurled against his flesh ... in sex, he ceased thinking and became only being, all movement and pleasure and expertise. He lived in a sexual frenzy because sometimes, afterward, he could sleep for an hour or two." (Ibid, p. 165).
"...she had become the thing Catherine had wanted to save her from; she had become Catherine, only worse, because for Alice there was no reason. It w as not a thing she had to do; it was what she wanted. The empty attention of stupid, lonely men. It was beyond thought." (Chapter 15, p. 172).
"...there was survival. There was going on, as she had always gone on, without much joy, against her will, against her instincts, without the stomach for it, but on and on and on, without relief, without release, without a hand to reach out and touch her heart. Without kindness or comfort. But on." (Chapter 16, p. 186).
"He was lost in hope and desire, as lost as he had been in his first days with Emilia. Catherine was everything. She was not a woman; she was a world. She might wound him, she might lie to him, and still he would do anything to hear one word of kindness from her lips, to feel his flesh touch her flesh without humiliation...he was at last waiting for someone whose name was known to him ... she smiled at him, and he knew then that he would die for her." (Chapter 17, p. 191-2).
"He knew that people suddenly woke up one day and reason was gone, all sense of right and wrong, all trust in their own intentions. It happened. The winter was too long. The air was too bleak. The cause was unknowable, the effect unpredictable." (Chapter 18, p. 205).
"The drug's erotic effect would end soon, and the horror would begin, if that was what she wanted. And the fact of it didn't appall him as he thought it should. He wouldn't stop her. He wouldn't save himself. He loved her. He loved her and she wanted him dead, and his son was lost forever to him and that was fine too. That was what his life had led him to. This was what he had lived twenty years of solitude for, to see what would happen, to see how it would all turn out." (Ibid, p. 209).
"A widow in town took strychnine, the poison scalding her blood, the bile spewing from her mouth as she lay on the kitchen floor, a cake cooling on the kitchen table. A young man threw his only daughter down a well and smoked a cigarette as she drowned. Such things happened." (Ibid, p. 211).
"India had spent a lifetime watching other people's lives, looking in shop windows, watching life through the plate glass of her own indifferent looks, and she had noticed everything and stored it away, her only treasure. It was her only furniture of use; her protection against the loneliness that left her and the ugly men and the sad, sad life." (Chapter 20, p. 229).
"She could grieve for herself now, finally, for her wandering, wasted life ... she wept for herself, she wept for her father and her mother, for her sister, and for every moment lost and forgotten and broken into bits on the long way from where she had been to the place where she sat. It was so fragile, a life, and she thought she had been tough enough to believe differently. Now everything was tender to her, tender as a new wound...she was applying medications to her own skin as she was nursing Truitt." (Ibid, p. 236).
"Sons came home to their fathers, even to men who weren't their fathers, men who had beaten them senseless. Sons came home, malevolent with revenge, home to fathers who could not forgive themselves for the cruelties they had committed. Such things happened." (Chapter 21, p. 239).
"She herself had lied, but now it seemed the lie had burned through her, leaving only white blank space behind, white as the landscape outside the window. At that moment, something in her ended and something began. And she lay awake until the thin light came through the windows while she gave birth to the new thing." Ibid, p. 244
"Ralph had found his passion again, so long suppressed. He had found it in a woman who had deceived and lied and pretended and worse, but he woke up every morning with the feeling of having passed the night in dreams of pleasure. He had sought one thing and found another. She was the instrument of his death. She was the invitation to his life. He knew where he stood." (Chapter 22, p. 253).
"His father, his real father, had left his mother for a rich young widow. His father ... had taught piano, was named Moretti, had given him life. This Truitt was a remote stranger whose death was the only thing Antonio had lived for for more than a dozen years. This Truitt who bought and sold and disposed, who spoke to him in kind tones that Antonio could not bear." (Chapter 23, p. 267).
"The air had turned suddenly cold, but it was a springtime kind of cold, an evening cold, without threat. It was almost dark. Things wait, she thought. Not everything dies. Living takes time. And she walked toward the golden house and took his outstretched hand in her own. Such things happen." (Chapter 25, p. 291).
This section contains 2,062 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)