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Category Archives: wit

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

— Samuel Beckett, Murphy

” ‘All the lovely things, all the lovely houses,’ said Nancy, ‘where have they all gone?’

‘Presumably the houses are where they’ve always been,’ said Nicholas, ‘but they’re being lived in by people who can afford them.’

‘But that’s just it, I should be able to afford them!’

‘Never use a conditional tense when it comes to money.’ ”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

” ‘Oh, darling,’ said Julia, resting her hands on Patrick’s shoulders, ‘are you your own worst enemy?’

‘I certainly hope so,’ said Patrick. ‘I dread to think that would happen if somebody else turned out to be better at it than me.’ ”

– Edward St Aubyn, Mother’s Milk

“Suffering takes place while somebody else is eating.”

– Edward St Aubyn, Bad News

“He checked the pill again (lower right pocket) and then the envelope (inside left) and then the credit cards (outer left). This nervous action, which he sometimes performed every few minutes, was like a man crossing himself before an altar – the Drugs; the Cash; and the Holy Ghost of Credit.”

– Edward St Aubyn, Bad News

“More powerful than God, more evil than the Devil; the poor have it, the rich lack it, and if you eat it you die?

That’s a new one

Take a guess.

I give up.

Nothing.

She takes a minute to work it out. Nothing. Yes, she says. That should do it.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

“Her upper torso made Poppy alternately growl with reproductive gusto and swoon through light fits of sleep.”

– Sean Casey, “The First Chapter”

“They argued with the men over philosophical, sociological and artistic matters, they were just as good as the men themselves: only better, since they were women. And they tramped off to the forests with sturdy youths bearing guitars, twang-twang!”

– D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterly’s Lover

“Santa doesn’t give a shit. His nose is cold, his thighs ache from their position in the sleigh, he wants only to get home to Mrs. Claus, who has roast beef and baked potatoes waiting. When he arrives, Mrs. Claus may greet him warmly and dine with him. She may ask about his day; she may have his slippers waiting.

Or maybe Mrs. Claus will choose today to find religion, in which case there will be no dinner, and perhaps Santa will need to go back out in the snow to the Wendy’s drive-thru after fielding a series of questions and accusations about his contribution to the spirit of mall commercialism that permeates this most sacred of holidays.

Or she may have become a raging feminist. She may want to be Ms. Claus, or even to return to her maiden name – an expensive and time-consuming legal process – and how will he ever explain the change to their friends, much less all the businesses that capitalize on the popularity of the icon of sweet Mrs. Claus. And the children, my God, the children. The children would never understand.”

– Rachel Haley Himmelheber

“Gabe Wallach knows only two languages, and one badly, so perhaps he is snotty out of envy. He has the malaise of many wealthy but ordinary young men: he does not know what to do with himself. Though subject to his share of depressions, nightmares, and melancholy, he cannot enjoy any of it thoroughly beacuse of a nagging doubt that he is very lucky and ought to be thankful and shut up. It would help if he could imagine himself without hope. He has an income, he has perfect health, and he believes not only in pursuit, but in the catching by the tail and dragging down in the clover of happiness. Unfortunately, all these beliefs don’t get too much in the way of his actions. If his own good fortune were inevitable, he should not have so much trouble making up his mind. For an optimist, he is very nervous and indecisive.”

– Philip Roth, Letting Go

“I am guilty, Lord, but I am also a lover – and I am one of your best people, as you know, and yea tho I have walked in many strange shadows and acted crazy from time to time and even drooled on many High Priests, I have not been an embarrassment to you.”

– Hunter Thompson, Screwjack

“I ran into the kitchen and looked around for a knife thinking that if Leach had gone crazy enough to kill his wife, now he would have to kill me too, since I was the only witness.

“Suddenly he appeared in the doorway, holding the naked woman by the neck, and hurled her across the room at me. Time stood still for an instant. The woman seemed to hover in the air, coming at me in the darkness like a body in slow motion. I went into a stance with the bread knife and braced for fighting.

“Then the thing hit me and bounced softly down to the floor. It was a rubber blow-up doll: one of those things with five orifices that young stockbrokers buy in adult bookstores after the singles bars close.

” ‘No more wife-beating. I’m cured thanks to Jennifer.’ He smiled sheepishly. ‘It’s almost like a miracle. These dolls saved my marriage. They’re a lot smarter than you think,’ he nodded gravely. ‘Sometimes I have to beat two at once, but it always calms me down, you know what I mean?’

“Whoops, I thought. Welcome to the night train.”

– Hunter Thompson, Death of a Poet

“The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish-Carnival madness is going on up in this space. Right above the gambling tables the Forty Flying Garazito Brothers are doing the high-wire trapeze act, along with four muzzled Wolverines and the Six Nymphet Sisters from San Diego.

“So you’re down on the main floor playing blackjack, and the stakes getting high when suddenly you chance to look up, and there, right smack above your head is a half-naked fourteen-year-old girl being chased through the air by a snarling wolverine, which is suddenly locked in a death battle with two silver-painted Polacks who come swinging down from opposite balconies and meet in mid-air on the wolverine’s neck. Both Polacks seize the animal as they fall straight down toward the crap tables – but they bounce off the net, they separate and spring back toward the roof in three different directions, and just as they’re about to all again they are grabbed out of the air by three Korean kittens and trapezed off to one of the balconies.

“Meanwhile, on all the upstairs balconies, the customers are being hustled by every conceivable kind of bizarre shock. Shoot the pasties off the nipples of a bull-dyke and win a cotton candy goat. Stand in front of this fantastic machine, my friend, and for just 99 cents your likeness will appear, two hundred feet tall, on a screen above downtown Las Vegas. Nintey-nine cents more for a voice message.

“Jesus Christ. I could see myself lying in bed in the Mint Hotel, half-asleep and staring idly at the window, when suddenly a vicious Nazi drunkard appears two hundred feet tall in the midnight sky, screaming gibberish at the world: ‘Woodstock Uber Alles!‘ ”

– Hunter Thompson, Death of a Poet