Russell Hoban quotations used in SA4QE

This is a list of quotations from Russell Hoban's books used in the annual SA4QE fan event. Click on the novel title for details of that book, or on the "read more" link for details of who chose the quotation and where they left it.

    Dr Mzumi made another note in Klein’s folder. ‘A CT brain scan and a carotid angiogram might be a good idea. They’ll send you an appointment.’

      ‘Thank you. One day you’ll be old and pissing in two streams too. Sorry. Bye-bye.’

“My mind is subject to fits of strangeness; this morning coming to work I looked out of the bus window at people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus and I thought, all this is really only Death dressing himself up as people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus.  Ought a doctor to see things in that way?”

Lines from ‘Come Dance With Me’ by Russell Hoban, writer, 1925-2011

Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.

“Then words imprinted themselves on his mind, large, powerful, compelling belief and respect like the saying of a god in capital letters:


He felt, as in a dream, the layered meanings of the words that stood upright in his mind as if carved in the stone of a temple.”

'Modern life,' said Jachin-Boaz [to the owner of the bookshop], 'particularly modern life in cities, creates great tensions in people, don't you think?'

'Modern life, ancient life,' said the owner. 'Where there's life there's tension.'

'Yes,' said Jachin-Boaz. 'Tension and nerves.  It's astonishing, really, what nerves can do."

'Well, they have a system, you see,' said the owner.  'When you suffer an attack of nerves you're being attacked by the nervous system.  What chance has a man got against a system?'

'Exactly,' said Jachin-Boaz.  'He could have delusions, hallucinations.'

'Happens every day of the week,' said the owner.  'Sometimes I, for example, have the delusion that this shop is a business.  Then I come back to reality and realize that it's just an expensive hobby.'

“I’m not sure of anything right now,” I confessed. “I may be a figment of my own imagination.”

“But that’s all anyone is; it’s the human condition. We’re given a name at birth and photographs are taken.  We come to be known by name and face and from this we piece together an identity and fix it in memory. This identity is not physically part of us; a knock on the head can make it go away."

".....still I am of the world, still I have something to say, how could it be otherwise, nothing comes to an end, the action never stops, it only changes...."

Jump! Into the empty air,

Drop to the rocks down there.

Maybe some of us will make it.

Winter is always either just ahead or just behind.

The first time I saw her was in a dream, the colours were intense; the air was fall of vibrations; everything seemed magnified and slowed down.
The street lamps were lit but the sky was still light. She was waiting at a bus stop. A sign said BALSAMIC although there was nothing vinegary about the place, no friars and no Gilead in sight. There were nondescript buildings in warm colours, perhaps leaning a bit, perhaps painted on canvas. She was waiting for the bus; there were obscure figures queuing behind her.
There was the sign that said BALSAMIC; the letters were sharp and clear; they riffled like rail departures but the name stayed the same. There were those shaky-looking buildings and the bus stop and there she waited, the thin woman with the straw-coloured hair, blue eyes, and pale face, unknown but seeming to look at me round the edges of my memory. Sleeping or waking, I'd never seen her before.
Again and again she gestured with her clenched fist and said, 'Yes!' silently. She wanted me to follow her. Why? Here came the bus: FINSEY-OBAY, yellow, pink, and orange rice paper and bamboo lit from within like a Japanese lantern. Such a light against that not-yet-dark sky! Again she looked at me as she boarded the bus and I felt that thrill of terror as I stepped back. And again the sense of loss. What did she want? How could I find her again?


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