Great Moments in Literature

“‘But thank God for Walter Winchell. Without him we’d be lost. He’s the last person on the radio to speak out against these dirty dogs. It’s disgusting. It’s worse than disgusting. Slowly but surely, there’s nobody in America willing to speak out against Lindbergh’s kissing Hitler’s behind.’

“‘What about the Democrats?’ I asked.

“‘Son, don’t ask me about the Democrats. I’m angry enough as it is.'”

—Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, 2004

 

“ALL RIGHT, THEN! SLINK OFF TO YOUR CORNERS AND WAIT FOR THE GUARDS TO COME — AND ONE BY ONE YOU’LL VANISH INTO THAT IRON BOX AND COME OUT AS CHEAP VOLTAGE. WE’RE NOTHING BUT FUEL TO KIBER! WHEN HE’S THROUGH WITH US HE’LL CAPTURE OTHERS UNTIL HE DESTROYS HUMANITY! MUST WE LET HIM DO IT WITHOUT A FIGHT? MUST WE GO TO OUR DEATHS LIKE SHEEP?

— Jack Kirby, BLACK PANTHER, Vol. 1, No. 12, “The Kiber Clue,” 1978

Great Moments in Literature

“In those days, I knew nothing of what I’ve come to know of the upper classes, who seemed to my mind then either fat people in dusty wigs, half recumbent or mounted upon some unfortunate horse, in paintings with gilded frames, or thin people who stalked the globe, gathered loot, and discovered the sources of rivers already long known to unimportant people.”

—Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know, 2014

 

“STORM CLOUDS BLEED FROM THE HEART OF NIGHT. SHARP WINDS RIP THROUGH THE MANHATTAN MAZE OF CONCRETE, STEEL AND GLASS. DOWN BELOW, GLITTERY HIGH ROLLERS SLIDE UP IN THEIR SLEEK BLACK LIMOUSINES. AND UP ABOVE, SHEATHED IN JET AND SILVER, AN URBAN WARRIOR RISES FROM HIS CROUCH, GAZE FASTENED ON THE TALL TOWER PIN-POINTED BY THE LIMOS’ GLEAMING EYES.”

— Doug Moench, MOON KNIGHT, Vol. 1, No. 9, “Vengeance in Reprise,” 1981

Great Moments in Literature

“Time of a summer evening when the world is being downsampled toward grayscale. The air cooling, a change that seems to be caused less by the setting of the sun than by the fading of color; and the legions of cicadas falling silent, as if color was the thing driving them mad and making them scream.”

—Greg Hrbek, Not on Fire, But Burning, 2015

 

“DOES THE SOIL REMEMBER? CONSIDER THIS PLOT OF LAND, A FEW ACRES OF UNHALLOWED GROUND. HERE LIE THE ROTTED REMAINS OF A HUNDRED EVIL MEN, THEIR LIVES SNUFFED OUT BY THE SOCIETY THEY DEFIED. MURDERERS. KIDNAPPERS. RAPISTS. MEN WHOSE LIVES WERE A CATALOG OF PAIN AND DEATH FOR ALL WHO CROSSED THEIR BLOOD-STAINED PATHS. DOES THE SOIL REMEMBER? DOES EVIL LEAVE ITS BLACK STAIN EVEN ON THE INNOCENT EARTH? I KNOW. AND I WILL TELL YOU, IF YOU ARE STOUT ENOUGH OF HEART TO WALK A WHILE ALONG THE PATH I DAILY TREAD.”

— John Byrne, ACTION COMICS, Vol. 1, No. 585, “And Graves Give Up Their Dead…,” 1987

Great Moments in Literature

“On that snowy day when he asked to borrow all that money to take care of his sick sister in Georgia, Lily’s disgust fought with relief and lost. She picked up the dog tags he’d left on the bathroom sink and hid them away in a drawer next to her bankbook. Now the apartment was all hers to clean properly, put things where they belonged, and wake up knowing they had not been moved or smashed to pieces. The loneliness she felt before Frank walked her home from Wang’s cleaners began to dissolve and in its place a shiver of freedom, on earned solitude, of choosing the wall she wanted to break through, minus the burden of shouldering a tilted man.”

—Toni Morrison, Home, 2012

 

“Plants are like people. Writers are like plants. Therefore, and this may come as a surprise, writers are like people. Give them light, water, nourishment, a comfortable pot, and an encouraging word and they’ll grow. Really. They’ll blossom. They’ll create things of beauty.”

— Steve Gerber, HOWARD THE DUCK, Vol. 1, No. 16, “Zen and the Art of Comic Book Writing: A Communique from Colorado,” 1977

Great Moments in Literature

“Fiona had written poetry when she was Adam Henry’s age, though she had never presumed to read it aloud, not even to herself. She remembered quatrains daringly unrhymed. There was even one about death by drowning, of sinking deliciously backward among the river weeds, an improbable fantasy inspired by the Millais paintings of Ophelia, before which she’d stood enraptured during a school visit to the Tate. This daring poem in a crumbling notebook, on whose cover were doodles in purple ink of desirable hairstyles.”

—Ian McEwan, The Children Act, 2014

“FOR DAYS — FOR WEEKS — A THOUSAND THINGS TRIED TO TELL ME THE TRUTH! …MY MAILBOX EMPTY OF HIS LOVE NOTES…MY HOME DESERTED BY HIS LAUGHTER…MY TELEPHONE DEAD WITHOUT HIS VOICE BREATHING LIFE INTO IT…”

— unknown, SECRET HEARTS, Vol. 1, No. 67, “Believe Me, Beloved,” 1960

Great Moments in Literature

“I found myself remembering the day in kindergarten when the teachers showed us Dumbo, and I realized for the first time that all the kids in the class, even the bullies, rooted for Dumbo, against Dumbo’s tormentors. Invariably they laughed and cheered, both when Dumbo succeeded and when bad things happened to his enemies. But they’re you, I thought to myself. How did they not know? They didn’t know. It was astounding, an astounding truth. Everyone they thought they were Dumbo.”

—Elif Batuman, The Idiot, 2017

 

BUT, OF WHAT AVAIL IS COURAGE? OF WHAT AVAIL IS GRIM RESOLVE…AGAINST A FOE WHO CANNOT BE DEFEATED??

—Stan Lee, THOR, Vol. 1, No. 151, “–To Rise Again,” 1968

Great Moments in Literature

“Anna drew on the cigarette, enjoying the dry heat inside her mouth, and let the smoke scatter into the wind. It was dirty, but a dirtiness she liked — akin to the girl welders eating their lunches sitting on the floor. She and Nell smoked in silence. Anna looked across Wallabout Bay at the hammerhead crane bent against the sky. A few days before, she’d watched it lift a cement truck off the ground as if it were a die-cast toy. Beyond the crane sprawled the Williamsburg Bridge and then the low buildings on the shore of Manhattan, windows like gold flakes in the dusty sky.”

—Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach, 2017

 

FIVE WORLDS AS HEADS FROZE THE MOMENT — AND BRIDGET WAS AWED TO THAT HAIR-RAISING SILENCE ALWAYS FOLLOWING A GASP. I‘D SUCKED AIR WITH PRICKLED SCALP, TOO, THE FIRST TIME I’D SEEN IT: FIVE CONCENTRIC LAYER-WORLDS, TUCKED ONE INSIDE THE OTHER, THE CEILING OF EACH STUDDED WITH ARTIFICIAL SUNS LIGHTING THE LAYER BELOW…OCEANS OF AIR PERMITTING TRAVEL FROM ONE WORLD TO THE NEXT, AND EVEN ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE CORE. THE WHOLE THING WAS A SYMBOLIC REALIZATION OF TIME, SPACE, HISTORY’S MYSTERY, AND THAT WHICH COULD UNRAVEL THE WHOLE BALL OF YARN. AN ONION WITH FIVE LAYERS AND A NASTY CENTER — OR FIVE APPLES SHARING THE SAME WORM-RIDDEN CORE. BUT DON’T ASK ME HOW IT CAME TO BE; I HAD OTHER PROBLEMS…”

—Doug Moench, AZTEC ACE, Vol. 1, No. 1, “The Mexica Serpent,” 1984