"This was a part of the story I had never heard.
And the minute that I heard it, something happened. It was as if a trap had snapped shut, to hold these words in my head. I did not exactly understand what use I would have for them. I only knew how they jolted me and released me, right away, to breathe a different kind of air, available only to myself…"
From “Family Furnishings,” a story by this little-known writer named Alice Munro. These sentences, whether I think consciously about them or not, are with me every time I sit down to write a story.
"To say you’ve fashioned a novel from stories is to say you’ve fashioned an adult by standing one child on the shoulders of another."
— William Giraldi, in a thought-provoking if not totally convincing essay on short story collections and novels at The Rumpus.
"So to show my utter thankfulness upon waking, I make a pass of the Old City the next day. I stop in every quarter, pray at every place of worship I find. That’s my secret, a flittingness. I favor no gods. Establish again and again my lack of allegiance … Staying alive means never blinking and never taking sides."
— From Nathan Englander's brilliant short story, “In This Way We Are Wise,” about a couple who survive an attack in a Jerusalem cafe.
"Have you ever wanted something very badly and then gotten it? Then you know that winning is many things, but it is never the thing you thought it would be. Poor people who win the lottery do not become rich people. They become poor people who won the lottery."
— from Miranda July’s short story, “Birthmark”
"If you can still see how you could once have loved a person, you are still in love; an extinct love is always wholly incredible."
— Michael Chabon's short story, “Ocean Avenue,” begins with this line, one I happen to think about on a daily basis.