joy for beginners – favourite parts

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned reading Joy for Beginners.
These are some of my favourite parts.

The women around the table nodded in understanding… (they) ranged in age, but they were all old enough to know that in the currency of friendship, empathy is more valuable than accuracy. (p. 12)

It was almost midnight. The tables were cluttered with napkins and used silverware, tablecloths rumpled like bedsheets. … Wine bottles had long ago lost their ownership, travelling up and down the tables like porters on a train. … Over in the corner, a couple was forming, their heads bending slowly toward each other like candles melting. (p. 52)

Henry smiled. “I walked across a bridge that doesn’t exist. And after that, being scared just didn’t seem so important anymore.” (p. 52)

Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up. (p. 65)

Everything held for a moment and then suddenly the pigeons valuted up into the sky, the sound of their wings deafening. Without thinking, Sara raised her camera to follow their flight. … She couldn’t remember the last time she had really looked up and paid attention to anything higher than the top of her children’s heads. … The world had diminished to a height of four feet. And yet, here it was, with a sky full of birds. (p. 83)

“You know,” Marion said, “I met a woman once when I was a teenager. I knew she had gone through a lot, but she was so strong, so compassionate. I asked her how she could be the way she was… she said, ‘You can be broken, or broken open. That choice is yours.'” (p. 93)

She collected tattoos like personal journal entries, a constantly updating record of her life. When Marion asked her what it was like to have strangers read your diary, Daria declared she didn’t care who saw them. That was Daria, Marion thought, putting secrets on the outside to distract you from the ones within.
(p. 105)

“Irreversible decisions are good for the soul, word-lady.” (p.109)

“Darling girl,” Elaine said, “has anyone ever told you you need to grow down a little?” (p. 139)

She remembered the doctor at the hospital… asking her, “Kate, are you remembering to breathe these days?” As if you could forget. Except of course you did, perhaps even on purpose as if in the back of your mind you suspected that you had only been allotted so many breaths in your life, a number designated on the day you were born, precious inhalations and exhalations that you had given up so unthinkingly throughout your life, walking to the post office, kissing a boy you should never have dated in the first place. Breath you held on to now because each one out felt like one less left. “Breathe is life in, Kate,” the doctor had said, as if he knew. “Not life out.” (p. 155)

Kate had never thought of water as weight before, but she did now, as she watched it churning upon itself, clawing at the sides of the canyon it had created. This water eats rocks, Kate thought, in a moment of clarity. I am in a rubber boat. (p. 156)

She wasn’t the first one to cry to the river, Sam had said. She looked out at the big water, thinking about all the anger and sadness and love it must hold. People would tell things to a river they wouldn’t tell their friends. At least the ones they thought were going to live. (p. 161)


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