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John Irving Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from John Irving
  1. #1
    “The night [Grandmother] died, Dan found her propped up in her hospital bed; she appeared to have fallen asleep with the TV on and with the remote-control device held in her hand in such a way that the channels kept changing. But she was dead, not asleep, and her cold thumb had simply attached itself to the button that restlessly roamed the channels—looking for something good.
    How I wish that Owen Meany could have died as peacefully as that!”
  2. #2
    “When I would complain about the kneeling, which was new to me—not to mention the abundance of litanies and recited creeds in the Episcopal service—Owen would tell me that I knew nothing. Not only did Catholics kneel and mutter litanies and creeds without ceasing, but they ritualized any hope of contact with God to such an extent that Owen felt they’d interfered with his ability to pray—to talk to God DIRECTLY, as Owen put it. And then there was confession! Here I was complaining about some simple kneeling, but what did I know about confessing my sins? Owen said the pressure to confess—as a Catholic—was so great that he’d often made things up in order to be forgiven for them.”
  3. #3
    “Whether she died that quickly, I don’t know; but she was dead by the time Mr. Chickering reached her. He was the first one to her. He lifted her head, then turned her face to a slightly more comfortable position; someone said later that he closed her eyes before he let her head rest back on the ground. I remember that he pulled the skirt of her dress down—it was as high as midthigh—and he pinched her knees together.”
  4. #4
    “It’s true: we Wheelwrights have rarely suffered. And unlike most of those other Americans, I also had the church; don’t underestimate the church—its healing power, and the comforting way it can set you apart. ”
  5. #5
    “I love the part when he tells the angel what to say—that’s brilliant,” Mr. Fish said. “And how he throws his mother aside—how he starts right in with the criticism…I mean, you get the idea, right away, that this is no ordinary baby. You know, he’s the Lord! Jesus—from Day One. I mean, he’s born giving orders, telling I had no idea it was so…primitive a ritual, so violent, so barbaric. But it’s very moving,” Mr. Fish added hastily, lest Dan and I be offended to hear our religion described as “primitive” and “barbaric.”
  6. #6
    “It occurred to me that the Catholics had done this to her—whatever it was, it surely qualified for the unmentioned UNSPEAKABLE OUTRAGE that Owen claimed his father and mother had suffered. There was something about Mrs. Meany’s obdurate self-imprisonment that smacked of religious persecution—if not eternal damnation.”
  1. #7
    “YOU LET ME DROWN!” Owen said. “YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! YOU JUST WATCHED ME DROWN! I’M ALREADY DEAD!” he told us. “REMEMBER THAT: YOU LET ME DIE.”
  2. #8
    “The crack of the bat was so unusually sharp and loud for a Little League game that the noise captured even my mother’s wandering attention. She turned her head toward home plate—I guess, to see who had hit such a shot—and the ball struck her left temple, spinning her so quickly that one of her high heels broke and she fell forward, facing the stands, her knees splayed apart, her face hitting the ground first because her hands never moved from her sides (not even to break her fall), which later gave rise to the speculation that she was dead before she touched the earth.”
  3. #9
    Dan understood that I loved Owen, and that I wanted to talk with him—most of all—but that it was a conversation, for both Owen’s sake and mine, that was best to delay. But before we finished loading the baseball cards in the car, Dan Needham asked me, “What are you giving him?”
    “What?” I said.
    “To show him that you love him,” Dan Needham said. “That’s what he was showing you. What have you got to give him?”
  4. #10
    “The main thing is, Johnny,” Dan Needham said, “you have to show Owen that you love him enough to trust anything with him—to not care if you do or don’t get it back. It’s got to be something he knows you want back. That’s what makes it special.”
  5. #11
    “My mother stopped the car and hugged him, and kissed him, and told him he was always welcome to come with us, anywhere we went; and I rather awkwardly put my arm around him, and we just sat that way in the car, until he had composed himself sufficiently for his return to 80 Front Street, where he marched in the back door, past Lydia’s room and the maids fussing in the kitchen, up the back stairs past the maids’ rooms, to my room and my bathroom, where he closed himself in and drew a deep bath. He handed me his sodden clothes, and I brought the clothes to the maids, who began their work on them.”
  6. #12
    “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. I make no claims to have a life in Christ, or with Christ—and certainly not for Christ, which I’ve heard some zealots claim.”

Books about grief

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Grandpa's Top Threes book
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6.4
Ida, Always book
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6.0
A Stopwatch from Grampa book
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5.3
The Rough Patch book
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5.0
Where Lily Isn't book
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The Goodbye Book book
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4.8
The Memory Box book
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4.8
  1. #13
    ″[Harry Hoyt] was embarrassed by his mother’s lack of patriotic zeal; it may have been the only time he argued with anyone, but he won the argument—he got to go to Vietnam, where he was killed by one of the poisonous snakes of that region. It was a Russell’s viper and it bit him while he was peeing under a tree; a later revelation was that the tree stood outside a whorehouse, where Harry had been waiting his turn. He was like that; he was a walker—when there was no good reason to walk.”
  2. #14
    “Owen doesn’t think it’s right to try to change his voice,” I said. ”
  3. #15
    “BELIEF IS NOT AN INTELLECTUAL MATTER,” he complained. “IF HE’S GOT SO MUCH DOUBT, HE’S IN THE WRONG BUSINESS.”
  4. #16
    “It is amazing to me, now, how such wild imaginings and philosophies—inspired by a night charged with frights and calamities—made such perfectly good sense to Owen Meany and me; but good friends are nothing to each other if they are not supportive. ”
  5. #17
    “What does he do, Tabitha?” my grandmother asked. That was a Wheelwright thing to ask. In my grandmother’s opinion, what one “did” was related to where one’s family “came from”—she always hoped it was from England, and in the seventeenth century. And the short list of things that my grandmother approved of “doing” was no less specific than seventeenth-century England.”
  6. #18
    “Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”
  7. #19
    “Hearing about him made me even miss practicing that stupid shot; and so I wrote to him, just casually—since when would a twenty-year-old actually come out and say he missed his best friend?”
  8. #20
    “Since her death, Owen had hinted that the strongest force compelling him to attend Gravesend Academy—namely, my mother’s insistence—was gone. Those rooms allowed us to imagine what we might become—if not exactly boarders (because I would continue to live with Dan, and with Grandmother, and Owen would live at home), we would still harbor such secrets, such barely restrained messiness, such lusts, even, as these poor residents of Waterhouse Hall. It was our lives in the near future that we were searching for when we searched in those rooms, and therefore it was shrewd of Owen that he made us take our time.”
Book Topics › friendship
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