Doctor Reefy was a tall man who had worn one suit of clothes for ten years. It was frayed at the sleeves and little holes had appeared at the knees and elbows. In the office he wore also a linen duster with huge pockets into which he continually stuffed scraps of paper. After some weeks the scraps of paper became little hard round balls, and when the pockets were filled he dumped them out upon the floor. For ten years he had but one friend, another old man named John Spaniard who owned a tree
nursery. Sometimes, in a playful mood, old Doctor Reefy took from his pockets a handful of the paper balls and threw them at the nursery man. “That is to confound you, you blathering old sentimentalist,” he cried, shaking with laughter.

— Sherwood Anderson

This was the passage I remembered best from reading Winesburg, Ohio the first time.


It matters not at all in what way I lay this poker on the floor. But if Bonaparte should say it must be placed in this direction, we must instantly insist upon its being laid in some other one.

— Horatio Nelson

Almost certainly apocryphal. Sourced to Henry Addington by Alfred Thayer Mahan in his biography of Nelson.

The revolutionary

“Do you know what it was like? It was a long time before I could think of it.”
Her right hand was creeping upward, toward her eyes. I caught it and forced it back.
“I thought I saw my worst enemy, a kind of demon. And it was me.”
Her scalp was bleeding. I put clean lint there and taped it down, though I knew it would soon be gone. Curling, dark hairs were entangled in her fingers.
“Since then, I can’t control my hands… I can if I think about it, if I know what they’re doing. But it is so hard, and I’m getting tired.” She rolled her head away and spat blood. “I bite myself. Bite the lining of my cheeks, and my tongue and lips. Once my hands tried to strangle me, and I thought oh good, I will die now. But I only lost consciousness, and they must have lost their strength, because I woke. It’s like that machine, isn’t it?”
I said, “Allowin’s necklace.”
“But worse. My hands are trying to blind me now, to tear my eyelids away. Will I be blind?”
“Yes,” I said.
“How long before I die?”
“A month, perhaps. The thing in you that hates you will weaken as you weaken. The revolutionary brought it to life, but its energy is your energy, and in the end you will die together.”

Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer

Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk, England. Highsmith once attended a London cocktail party with a “gigantic handbag” that “contained a head of lettuce and a hundred snails” which she said were her “companions for the evening.”

— Wikipedia