JR Moehringer The Tender Bar
“Do you know why God invented writers? Because He loves a good story. And he doesn’t give a damn about words. Words are the curtain we’ve hung between Him and our true selves. Try not to think about the words. Don’t strain for the perfect sentence. There’s no such thing. Writing is guesswork. Every sentence is an educated guess, the reader’s as much as yours. Think about that the next time you curl a piece of paper into your typewriter.”
“People just don’t understand how many men it takes to build one good man. Next time you’re in Manhattan and you see one of those mighty skyscrapers going up, pay attention to how many men are engaged in the enterprise. It takes just as many men to build a sturdy man, son, as it does to build a tower.”
“He’d mastered himself. He knew that hard work was the right path for a man, the only path. He wasn’t paralyzed, as I was, by the fear of making a mistake. When he bounced a pitch in front of me, or threw it over my head, he didn’t care. He was experimenting, exploring, finding himself, and finding his way by trial and error to a kind of truth.”
“I saw that we must lie to ourselves now and then, tell ourselves that we’re capable and strong, that life is good and hard work will be rewarded, and then we must try to make our lies come true. This is our work, our salvation, and this link between lying and trying was one of my mother’s many gifts to me, the truth that always lay just beneath her lies.”
“Sinatra’s voice, I said, is the voice most men hear in their heads. It’s the paradigm of maleness. It has the power men strive for, and the confidence. And yet when Sinatra is hurt, busted up, his voice changes. Not that the confidence goes away, but just beneath the confidence is a strain of insecurity, and you hear the two impulses warring for his soul, you hear all that confidence and insecurity in every note, because Sinatra lets you hear, lays himself bare, which men seldom do.”
“I didn’t know sentences could be made like that. Cheever did with words what Seaver did with fastballs. He described a garden full of roses as smelling like strawberry jam. He wrote about longing for a more ‘peaceable world.'”
“I loved the look of those words, the shapes of them, the subliminal association of their typeface with the pretty face of my mother, but it may have been their functionality that won my heart. Like nothing else, words organized my world, put order to chaos, divided things neatly into black and white.”
Anton Chekov Uncle Vanya
We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see evil and all our pain disappear in the great pity that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and gentle and sweet as a caress.
Longfellow, from MONOLOGUE: THE LAST JUDGMENT
“First love or last love,–which of these two passions
Is more omnipotent? Which is more fair,
The star of morning or the evening star?
The sunrise or the sunset of the heart?
The hour when we look forth to the unknown,
And the advancing day consumes the shadows,
Or that when all the landscape of our lives
Lies stretched behind us, and familiar places
Gleam in the distance, and sweet memories
Rise like a tender haze, and magnify
The objects we behold, that soon must vanish?”
Logan Pearsall Smith:
“The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection, even though it consists in nothing more than the pounding of an old piano, is what alone gives meaning to our life on this unavailing star.”