Russell Hoban quotations used in SA4QE

This is a list of quotations from Russell Hoban's books used in the annual SA4QE fan event. Click on the novel title for details of that book, or on the "read more" link for details of who chose the quotation and where they left it.

The people who run the world now were children once. What went wrong? Why do perfectly good children become rotten grown-ups?

That night the sea-thing child heard the air humming. He looked up at the sky for the star that he always looked at, but it was blotted out. He could not see the star with his eyes, but in the dark of his mind he saw it burning and flickering over the sea. The humming of the air grew louder, and the sea-thing child stepped out of his double circle and faced into the wind. The ocean was high and wild, and the sky and the sea roared together, heaving in the dark.

The sea-thing child spread his wings to keep from falling down, and the wind blew him backwards. He moved forwards against the wind, then he began to run, faster and faster. The beach slipped away under him, he laughed, and flapped his wings and flew up into the storm.

Don’t worry about the form, and don’t worry about beginnings, middles and endings, take hold of the thing, wherever you can, whatever of an idea presents itself to you, whether it’s the foot or the elbow, grab it, and work out from there. Don’t expect too much of yourself, but – just as people who are thrifty, and who save money – and don’t wait until they’ve got fifty pounds to put in the bank, but put in a pound, or five pounds, or ten pounds, and it accumulates that way, do something every day. If you can only write a paragraph, do a paragraph. If you can write a page, do a page. A whole story, okay, an idea, okay, notes, whatever – just get into the habit of doing something every day. And, let the ideas develop as they will – don’t require of yourself that you do a whole story or a whole novel, just do whatever you can – every day.

"He was delighted to find that he did not love Gretel for any reason that he might have thought good in the past. Not for intelligence or accomplishments. Not for anything that she did. He loved her simply because she was. What a thing, thought Jachin-Boaz. Love without a purpose."

'Alone and blind and endlessly voyaging I think constantly of fidelity. Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart. In love or in terror or in loathing one responds to them with the true self; fidelity is not an act of the will: the soul is compelled by recognitions. Anyone who loves, anyone who perceives the other person fully can only be faithful, can never be unfaithful to the sea and the mountains and the death in that person, so pitiful and heroic is it to be a human being.'

The people who run the world now were children once. What went wrong? What is it that with such dismal regularity goes wrong? Why do perfectly good children become rotten grown ups? If I say there's a language failure somewhere does that make sense? Keep in mind my claim that everything is language. Am I saying then that there's an everything failure? Yes, because nothing has a chance of working right when people won't listen to what it says and with the proper action say the right things back.

“What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

One speaks of the American Dream and the meaning various with the speaker but always what is meant is a montage of heart-pictures, desire-pictures, richly coloured wishes and memories and expectations of what people variously want from America or associate with America. This montage may have in it the Declaration of Independence, John D. Rockefeller, the Ku Klux Klan, Daniel Boone and Joseph MCarthy, Shirley Temple and the mountain men and Charlie Parker; it may have Abe Lincoln and Billy the Kid and the Statue of Liberty lifting her lamp beside the golden door of the Land of Opportunity where the plough breaks the plains, the West is won, the Yanks are coming, the Wright brothers and the astronauts go up and the economy comes down, Henry David Thoreau plants beans at Walden Pond, the Okies roll out of the dustbowl in battered Fords and talking blues by Woody Guthrie, Frank Sinatra sings at Las Vegas, Thomas Wolfe burns in the night and Jack Dempsey, Marilyn Monroe, Diamond Jim Brady, P.T. Barnum and the Enola Gay gleam high in the sunlight over Hiroshima while Bartolomeo Vanzetti writes a letter to his son and survivalists in Texas stockpile provisions and machine guns. The American Dream is pretty much whatever montage of heart-pictures you like to look at.

[Angelica:]   'What's this got to do with my

            reality problems?'

[Psychoanalyst:] 'I have in mind your

                  fascination with sexual

            intercourse with animals.'

[Angelica:]   'Only my hippogriff, and he's 

                imaginary.'

What passes for reality seems to me mostly a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds. The reality that interests me is strange and flickering and haunting

Share this page