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“Perhaps the turning point in one’s life is realizing that to be treated like a victim is not necessarily to become one.”

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source: The Paris Review Interviews, vol. II (New York: Picador, 2007), 259.

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medium: interview

notes: Originally published in Issue 91 of The Paris Review, 1984.

“Another thing we have in common was good, solid, loving, and companionate marriages. On one of our car trips, I complained over the useless, trivial hyperactivity of my eyes gazing at women. At any conference, or in an airport on the way, I find myself continually checking out the beauty of young women, dwelling on figures and faces. It disturbed me that I wasted time and energy evaluating quarries I would never mine. Wendell agreed explosively, as if he had been waiting for someone to bring up the subject. He suffered from this idle habit himself, and found himself in lecture halls doing inventories of the female audience. One day, he told me, he saw one face that was absolutely perfect and irresistible to him. It was a few seconds before he realized that his eyes had lighted on his wife, Tanya.”

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source: “The Best Noise in the World,” in Wendell Berry: Life and Work edited by Jason Peters (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007), 46.

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medium: nonfiction

“People wouldn’t know this about me, but I adore ball gowns. I love their cut, their architecture and the thought of the hands of so many seamstresses working on them.”

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source: “A Rare Spirit, a Rarer Eye,” Ruth La Ferla, The New York Times, March 19, 2010.

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medium: newspaper profile

“I would tell my twenty-one year old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your C.V., are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

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source: Harvard commencement speech, June 2008

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medium: speech

“Counterphobic, a shrink once called it, meaning I run fast toward any event I suspect might be excruciating.”

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source: Lit (New York: Harper, 2009), 94.

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medium: memoir

“Count yourself lucky…You’re still promising until your first book’s out.”

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source: Lit (New York: Harper, 2009), 68.

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medium: memoir

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