Great Moments in Literature

“They had dozens of sexual partners before they married each other. Dance floor romances, Ibiza flings. The nineties, ecstatic decade! They were married though they needn’t have married, and though both had sworn they never would be. It is hard to explain—in that game of musical chairs—why they would have stopped, finally, at each other. Kindness, as a quality, had something to do with it. Many things were easy to find on those dance floors, but kindness was rare.”

—Zadie Smith, NW, 2012

 

“EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE NEVER SPOKEN TO ME … EVEN THOUGH I KNOW WHO YOU TRULY ARE … I TRULY LOVE YOU WITH A PASSION NONE MAY EVER MATCH IN THIS STAR SYSTEM! TO PROVE THIS LOVE, I’LL PRESENT YOU WITH A TOKEN OF MY AFFECTIONS — A TOKEN SUCH AS NO LOVER IN HISTORY COULD EVER MATCH! THIS DAY, I GIVE YOU EARTH!

—Jim Starlin, CAPTAIN MARVEL, Vol. 1, No. 31, “The Beginning of the End!,” 1974

Great Moments in Literature

“Lila Mae removed the two suitcases from the back of the pickup truck. The suitcases were new, with a formidable casing of green plastic. Scratchproof, supposedly. Her father had only been able to afford them because they were, manufacturer’s oaths aside, scratched—gouged, actually, as if an animal had taken them in its fangs to teach them about hubris.”

—Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist, 1999

 

“ELSEWHERE, THE MAN KNOWN AS KRAVEN DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN UNIQUE GREATNESS … MOVING SWIFTLY, SILENTLY, AND, ABOVE ALL, CALMLY! NO JUNGLE CAT WAS EVER MORE CERTAIN OF ITS INTENT — AND WITHIN MINUTES HIS TASK IS FINISHED!

—Denny O’Neil, AMAZING SPIDER-MAn, Vol. 1, No. 209, “To Salvage My Honor!,” 1980

Great Moments in Literature

“I began to understand home when Riv and I slept next to each other and Riv told me stories in the dark. Once, River told me about the ocean. He said: We got so much water where I’m from. It come down from the north in rivers. Pool in bayous. Rush out to the ocean, and that stretch to the ends of the earth that you can see. It changes color, he said, like a little lizard. Sometimes stormy blue, sometimes cool gray. In the early mornings, silver. You could look at that and know there’s a God, he said to me as the other gunmen coughed and tossed. Maybe one day, when you and me get out of here, you could come down and see it, Riv said.”

—Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing, 2017

 

“THOU HAVE DARED TO DISOBEY MINE ORDERS IMPERIAL! I HAVE FORBAD THY VISIT TO EARTH … AND YET … THERE, BEFORE MINE EYES, THOU DO STAND ON THE PLANET OF THE MORTALS! IF WITH MORTALS THOU WOULDST DWELL … AS POWERLESS AS THEY SHALT THOU BE! I HAVE SPOKEN! SO BE IT!

—Stan Lee, THOR, Vol. 1, No. 148, “Let There Be…Chaos!,” 1968

Great Moments in Literature

“Hints of robustness survived in him, more than a hint of primitive good looks, and Margaret, noting the spine that might have been straight, and the chest that might have broadened, wondered whether it paid to give up the glory of the animal for a tail coat and a couple of ideas. Culture had worked in her own case, but during the last few weeks she had doubted whether it humanized the majority, so wide and so widening is the gulf that stretches between the natural and the philosophic man, so many the good chaps who are wrecked in trying to cross it. She knew this type very well—the vague aspirations, the mental dishonesty, the familiarity with the outsides of books. She knew the very tones in which he would address her.”

—E.M Forster, Howards End, 1910

 

“YOU MISJUDGE ME, MY DEAR. THIS IS A QUESTION NOT OF MURDER, BUT OF BUSINESS EFFICIENCY …AND ADVANCEMENT.”

—Roger Stern, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Vol. 1, No. 236, “Kill or Be Killed!,” 1979

Great Moments in Literature

“Julian shooed Sasha into the other bedroom like a peaceable teenage goatherd. Asking if I needed anything before he said good night. I was taken aback—he reminded me of the boys in school who’d become more polite and high functioning on drugs. Dutifully washing the family dinner dishes while they were tripping, mesmerized by the psychedelic magic of soap.”

—Emma Cline, The Girls, 2016

 

“AND THEN THE UGANDANS CUT LOOSE WITH THEIR MORTARS. THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO FOR HER. ALL I FOUND WAS A TOOTH. AND TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, MY COPY OF THE RED PONY WAS IN FLAMES. THERE WAS NOTHING LEFT FOR ME HERE. I SET MY COURSE FOR MARIN. THE NIGHT HAD CLEARED, AND THE STARS TWINKLED WETLY, AS IF THEY TOO WEPT FOR THE POOR BRAVE GIRL WHO HAD GOTTEN HER WISH. SOMEWHERE A BELL TOLLED. AND, BROTHER, YOU CAN BET I DIDN’T ASK FOR WHOM!”

—Will Jacobs & Gerard Jones, THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, Vol. 1, No. 1, “Meeting Girls,” 1987

Great Moments in Literature

“Outside the house, a shadow moved, an autumn wind rose up and faded away. But there was something else in the silence that he heard. It was like a breath exhaled upon the window. It was like a faint drift of greenish luminescent smoke, the motion of a single huge October leaf blowing across the lawn and away.”

—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1953

 

“A MELODY OF ALARM IS WAFTED BY THE WIND THROUGHOUT THE MOST SECRET RECESSES OF THE JUNGLE … RECOGNIZED BY ALL ITS CREATURES … AS THE SONG CEASES … RAUCOUS LAUGHTER TAKES ITS PLACE …”

—Robert Kanigher, RIMA, THE JUNGLE GIRL, Vol. 2, No. 6, “Safari of Death,” 1975

Great Moments in Literature

“My mother poured recklessly but perfect, capping off my glass just before it overflowed. Still, a trick to get it to my mouth without spilling. She smirked a little as she watched me. Leaned back against the newel post, tucked her feet under her, sipped.”

—Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects, 2006

 

“ONE OF THOSE QUIET EVENINGS, WHEN EVEN THE CITY SOUNDS FADE INTO GENTLE, DISTANT MUTTERINGS — ONE OF THOSE SILENT PERSONAL MOMENTS A MAN SPENDS JUST BREATHING — JUST FEELING AN INSTANT OF TREASURED LIFE.”

—Gerry Conway, DAREDEVIL, Vol. 1, No. 80, “In the Eyes … Of the Owl!,” 1971