At New England Sisters in Crime meetings, we sometimes read lines we wish we’d written. People in the group have quoted from well-known authors and from short stories written by other Sisters in Crime.
I’ve avoided having to choose from among the many talented writers I know and instead include four quotes that I’ve never been able to forget. They’re not from mystery writers but the words touch on violence, mystery, and power.
From Ralph Ellisons’s The Invisible Man, “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, because people refuse to see me.”
I don’t pretend to experience what a black person does but I have often felt invisible.
Charles II of England said on his death bed, I’m sorry to be such a long time dying.
He had over one hundred illegitimate children and was said to be truly the father of his people. I think he learned how to read his audience and he knew those around his bed couldn’t wait to grab power and make sweeping changes.
George Orwell in Animal Farm wrote, “Everyone’s equal but some are more equal than others.”
I think that sums up our human endeavors to make equality and democracy real.
In Paradise, Toni Morrison wrote, “They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here.”
Those first lines are so stark and set the mood for the rest of the story. They haunt me.
I’m sure there are mystery writers who can quote lines as witty and/or haunting.