Tag Archives: cormac mccarthy

A Drowning Incident

McCarthy, C. J. “A Drowning Incident.” The Phoenix: Orange and White Literary Supplement. Mar. 1960. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. p. 3-4.

“The black widow came threading her way toward it, and when she reached it she began a weaving motion over it with her legs as if performing some last rite.” p. 3

“He could hear the faint liquid purling even then, even before he emerged from the willows where the bridge crosses, glimpsed through the green lacework the fan of water beyond where the sun broke and danced on the stippled surface like silver bees.” p. 3

“Then with the gentle current drifted from beneath the bridge a small puppy, rolling and bumping along the bottom of the creek, turning weightlessly in the slow water. He watched uncomprehendingly. It spun slowly to stare at him with sightless eyes, turning its white belly to the softly diffused sunlight, its legs stiff and straight in an attitude of perpetual resistance. It drifted on, hid momentarily in a band of shadow, emerged, then slid beneath the hammered silver of the water surface and was gone.” p. 3-4

“It ebbed softly for a moment, then, tugged by a corner of the current, a small black and white figure, curled fetally, emerged. It was like witnessing the underwater birth of some fantastic subaqueous organism. It swayed hesitantly for a moment before turning to slide from sight in the faster water.”

“He lifted the stinking bag and looked at it. It was soggy and through a feathered split in the bottom little black hairs protruded like spiderfeet.” p. 4


Suttree influences

from books-and-movies-that-influenced-the-writing-of-suttree thread at http://www.cormacmccarthy.com

Davis Grubbs

Night of the Hunter

George Washington Harris

Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun By a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool

William Faulkner

Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! and The Reivers

William Shakespeare

(influences liked by Faulkner) Falstaff, Prince Hal, Nick Bottom, Mercutio, Huck Finn, Jim

Falstaff at Herne’s Oak, from “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Act V, Scene v, James Stephanoff, 1832. Via Wikimedia.

Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1848-1851). Titania and Bottom. Edwin Henry Landseer (1802–1873). Via Wikimedia.

Joseph Conrad

Dante Alighieri

James Joyce


Nelson Algren

The Neon Wilderness and A Walk on the Wild Side

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walt Whitman

T.S. Eliot

W. B. Yeats

John Keats

Hermann Hesse


Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

Herman Melville

H. L. Mencken

(Henry Louis Mencken) See The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1907)

Scopes Trial (1925)

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes/The Scopes Monkey Trial and Tennessee’s Butler Act. (On human evolution)


Cormac McCarthy reading list

To read

Fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah, Foster Bible. Via Wikimedia.

The Bible

Canterbury Tales, Woodcut 1484. Via Wikimedia.

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and CriseydeThe Book of the Duchess

Satan presiding at the Infernal Council. 1824. John Martin. Via Wikimedia.

John Milton: Paradise Lost  Areopagitica


Etching of Joseph O. Eaton’s portrait of Herman Melville. Via Wikimedia.

Herman Melville: Typee,Omoo,Moby-Dick 

William Faulkner


Flannery O’Connor Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Thomas Pynchon: V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon

MacKinlay Kantor: Andersonville, If the South Had Won the Civil War

Portrait of Dostoyevsky (Ф.М.Достоевского) by Vasily Perov, 1872. Via Wikimedia.

Ф.М.Достоевского Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Idiot, Demons, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment  


The Sound and The Fury

 Faulkner, William. The Sound and The Fury. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print. (1984 correction, first ed. 1929)

Luster “If you don’t hush, you know what I going to do. I going to eat that cake all up. Eat them candles, too. Eat all them thirty three candles. Come on, les go down to the branch. I got to find my quarter.” p. 4

“”Where’d you get a quarter, boy. Find it in white folks’ pocket while they aint looking.”
“Got it at the getting place.” Luster said. “Plenty more where that one come from. Only I got to find that one. Is you all found it yet.”
“I aint studying no quarter. I got my own business to tend to.”” p. 14

“The bones rounded out of the ditch, where the dark vines were in the black ditch, into the moonlight, like some of the shapes had stopped.” p. 33-34

“Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.” p. 41

Et ego in arcadia (Et in arcadia ego)p. 44

“And one evening, when they was about a dozen them bluegum chillen running around the place, he never come home. Possum hunters found him in the woods, et clean. And you know who et him. Them bluegum chillen did.” p. 69

“You’ve been running a long time, not to’ve got any further off than mealtime, Jason said.” p. 71

“Then he went to the window and looked out. He came back and took my arm. Here she come, he said. Be quiet, now. We went to the window and looked out. It came out of Quentin’s window and climbed across into the tree. We watched the tree shaking. The shaking went down the tree, then it came out and we watch it go away across the grass. Then we couldn’t see it.” p. 74

“I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” p. 76

“I passed the jeweler’s window, but I looked away in time. At the corner two bootblacks caught me, one on either side, shrill and raucous, like blackbirds. I gave the cigar to one of them, and the other one a nickel. Then they let me alone. The one with the cigar was trying to sell it to the other for the nickel.” p. 83

“He was going bald. There was a glass in his eye–a metal tube screwed into his face. I went in.
The place was full of ticking, like crickets in September grass, and I could hear a big clock on the wall above his head. He looked up, his eye big and blurred and rushing beyong the glass.” p. 83

“There were about a dozen watches in the window, a dozen different hours and each with the same assertive and contradictiory assurance that mine had, without any hands at all. Contradiction one another.” p. 85

“And all that day, while the train wound through rushing gaps and along ledges where movement was only a laboring sound of the exhaust and groaning wheels and the eternal mountains stood fading into the thick sky,” p. 88

“The ship went through the bridge, moving under bare poles like a ghost in broad day, with three gulls hovering above the stern like toys on invisible wires.” p. 89-90

***”It twinkled and glinted, like breathing, the float slow like a breathing too, and debris half submerged, healing out to the sea and the caverns and the grottoes of the sea.” p. 90

“You can feel noon. I wonder if even miners in the bowels of the earth.” p. 104

“Father said that a man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune Father said.” p. 104

“I could still see the smoke stack. That’s where the water would be, healing out to the sea and the peaceful grottoes.” p. 112

“Only our country was not like this country. There was something about just walking through it. A kind of still and violent fecundity that satisfied even bread-hunger like. Flowing around you, not brooding and nursing every niggard stone.” p. 113

“The bridge was of gray stone, lichened, dappled with slow moisture where the fungus crept. Beneath it the water was clear and still in the shadow, whispering and clucking about the stone in fading swirls of spinning sky.” p. 115

“The arrow increased without motion, then in a quick swirl the trout lipped a fly beneath the surface with that sort of gigantic delicacy of an elephant picking up a peanut.” p. 116-117

***”Then they talked about what they would do with twenty-five dollars. They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.” p. 117

“He leaned on the rail, looking down at the trout which he had already spent, and suddenly the acrimony, the conflict, was gone from their voices, as if to them too it was as though he had captured the fish and bought his horse and wagon, they too partaking of that adult trait of being convinced of anything by an assumption of silent superiority.” p. 118

“The street turned again. I could see the white cupola, the round stupid assertion of the clock.” p. 124

“took up the coins and found two coppers in her apron and gave them to me. I handed them to the little girl. Her fingers closed about them, damp and hot, like worms.” p. 126-127

“She looked at me. She chewed quietly and steadily; at regular intervals a small distension passed smoothly down her throat. I opened my package and gave her one of the buns. “Good bye,” I said. p. 129

“Them furriners. I cant tell one from another. You might take her across the tracks where they live, and maybe somebody’ll claim her.” p. 130

“I don’t know
outside the gray light the shadows of things like dead
things in stagnant water” p. 157

“I went to the diningroom. Quentin was sitting with her head bent. She had painted her face again. Her nose looked like a porcelain insulator.” p. 257

“She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts, and above that the collapsed face that gave the impression of the bones themselves being outside the flesh, lifted into the driving day with an expression at once fatalistic and of a child’s astonished disappointment, until she turned and entered the house again and closed the door.” p. 265-266

“saw the old woman in her quilted dressing gown at the head of the stairs, calling her name with machinelike regularity.” p. 270

“It was not the bottle which Mrs Compson wanted, however, and clutching it by the neck like a dead hen Dilsey went to the foot of the stairs and looked upward.” p. 270

“She made no further move, but though she could not see her save as a blobby shape without depth, Mrs Compson knew that she had lowered her face a little and that she stood now like cows do in the rain, holding the empty water bottle by its neck.” p. 272

“The window was open. A pear tree grew there, close against the house. It was in bloom and the branches scraped and rasped against the house and the myriad air, driving in the window, brought into the room the forlon scent of the blossoms.” p.

“The Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets.” p. 288

“Two tears slid down her fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and abnegation and time.” p. 295

“But he bellowed slowly, abjectly, without tears; the grave hopeless sound of all voiceless misery under the sun.” p. 316

To read Absalom, Absalom! (1936), A Fable (1954), As I lay Dying (1930)

To re-read The Sound and the Fury.

Read the poem Kubla Khan (1816) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

To read poem The Waste Land (1922) by T. S. Eliot


The Gardener’s Son

McCarthy, Cormac. The Gardener’s Son: a screenplay. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.   

“Whipper: They say that God sends no man a burden greater than what he can bear.
“Mr McEnvoy: Ay. Nor much less, neither.” p. 69

“There are always these strangers waiting for those who cannot set their house in order.” p. 73

“Once people are dead they’re not good nor bad. They’re just dead.” p. 94

Indiewire article on the TV film

Richard Pearce (director)

OCLC WorldCat The Gardener’s Son (TV film)


The Orchard Keeper (II)

McCarthy, Cormac. The Orchard Keeper. New York, N.Y.: Vintage International, 1993. Print. (First ed. 1965).

“Half blue tick and half walker.” p. 135

Talking about “being skeered of painters” 148-150.

Muskydine wine p. 150

“They sipped their wine with the solemnity of communicants, troglodytes gathered in some firelit cave. The lamp guttered in a draft of wind and their shadows, ponderous and bearlike upon the wall, weaved in unison.” p.150

“Old Bill, he backed off some, said that old she-painter might be around. Well, I was younger’n him and likely didn’t have as good sense, so in I goes and grabs the little feller up by the scruff of the neck.” p. 152

“And two days later the charred shaft of the pine tree still smoldering, pitch bubbling gently from the shell of the bark and small electricblue flames seeping and curling, the spire of smoke standing straight up in the motionless air like a continuation of the tree itself.” p. 163

“They began to unload, carrying the cases back into the garage, the car creaking and rising bit by bit until they had finished and it stood with its rear end high in the air like a cat in heat.” p. 165

“The old man watched them from his window darting and skulking among the bushes, slipping from tree to tree like boys playing Indians.” p. 185

“The old man sat very still on the floor. One shot struck the stove begind him and leaped off with an angry spang, taking the glass out of the table lamp. It was like being in a room full of invisible and malevolent spirits.” p. 186

“They went silently along over the trace of the quarry road, the sledge whispering, the gaunt dog padding, past the quarryhole with its vaporous green waters and into the woods again, the limestone white against the dark earth, a populace of monstrous slugs dormant in a carbon forest.” p. 189

“Well, Huffaker said, I couldn’t tell you offhand where-all you might find him at. He lives up yander somewheres–a random gesture at the brooding hills that cupped in the valley.” p. 196

“In the woods mists like old gray spirits paled and scattered, by moss coverlets the dark earth stirred and nightfurled wildflowers unbent their withered fronds all down the path where came the derelict hound shambling along in an aureole of its own incredibility,” p. 199

“Through a gap in the trees he could see the valley far below him where the river ran, a cauldron in the mountain’s shadow where smoke and spume seethed like the old disturbance of the earth erupting once again, black mist languidin the cuts and trenches as flowing lava and the palisades of rock rising in the high-shored rim beyond the valley,” p. 200-201

about the old man and his dog “proceeding on the weathered sun-washed bridge, jaunty and yet sad, like maimed soldiers returning.” p. 202

cat being prey to an owl 216-217
“When she left the rocks, was clear of the overreaching branches of the tree, there grew about her a shadow in the darkness like pooled ink spreading, a soft-hissing feathered sound which ceased even as she half turned, saw unbelieving the immense span of wings cupped downward, turned again, already squalling when the owl struck her back like a falling rock.” p. 217

“Cats is smart, allowed the old man. Course it could of been a common everyday housecat. They’ll tear up anything they come up on, a cat will. Housecats is smart too. Smarter’n a dog or a mule. Folks thinks they ain’t on account of you cain’t learn em nothin, but what it is is that they won’t learn nothin. They too smart.” p. 227

“The sun broke through the final shelf of clouds and bathed for a moment the dripping trees with blood, tinted the stones a diaphanous wash of color, as if the very air had gone to wine.” p. 246

“They are gone now. Fled, banished in death or exile, lost, undone. Over the land sun and wind still move to burn and sway the trees, the grasses. No avatar, no scion, no vestige of that people remains. On the lips of the strange race that now dwells there their names are myth, legend, dust.” p. 246


The Orchard Keeper (I)

McCarthy, Cormac. The Orchard Keeper. New York, N.Y.: Vintage International, 1993. Print. (First ed. 1965).

“A phantom rabbit froze in the headlights, rolled one white eye, was gone.” p. 20

“One by one the fallen were entering through the front door red with blood and clay and looking like the vanquished in some desperate encounter waged with sabers and without quarter.” p. 26

“For miles on miles the high country rolled lightless and uninhabited, the road ferruling through dark forests of owl trees, bat caverns, witch covens.” p. 31

“Above the heads of the dancers he could see himself hollow-eyed and sinister in the bar mirror and it occurred to him that he was ungodly and tired.” p. 32

“Cabe made off with a cashbox and at the last minute authorized the fleeing patrons to carry what stock they could with them, so that with the warmth of the fire and the bottles and jars passing around, the affair took on a holiday aspect.” p. 47

“By now the entire building was swallowed in flames rocketing up into the night with locomotive sounds and sucking on the screaming updraft half-burned boards with tremendous velocity which fell spinning, tracing red ribbons brilliantly down the night to crash into the canyon or upon the road, dividing the onlookers into two bands, grouped north and south of harm’s way, their faces lacquered orange as jackolanterns in the ring of heat.” p. 47-48

“There it continued to burn, generating such heat that the hoard of glass beneath it ran molten and fused in a single sheet, shaped in ripples and flutings, encysted with crisp and blackened rubble, murrhined with bottlecaps. It is there yet, the last remnant of that landmark, flowing down the sharp fold of the valley like some imponderable archeological phenomenon.” p. 48

“Coming back he glanced down at the water again. The thing seemed to leap at him, the green face leering and coming up through the lucent rotting water with eyeless sockets and green fleshless grin, the hair dark and ebbing like seaweed.” p. 54

***”She told him that the night mountains were walked by wampus cats with great burning eyes and which left no track even in snow, although you could hear them screaming plain enough of summer evenings.” p. 59-60

“In the fall before this past winter he had come awake one night and seen it for the second time, black in the paler square of the window, a white mark on its face like an inverted gull wing. And the window frame went all black and the room was filling up, the white mark looking and growing. He reached down and thumbed the hammer and let it fall. The room erupted… he remembered the orange spit of flame from the muzzle and the sharp smell of burnt powder, that his ears were singing and his arm hurt where the butt came back against it.” p. 60

“The well hidden in the weeds and johnson grass that burgeoned rankly in the yard had long shed its wall of rocks and they were piled in the dry bottom in layers between which rested in chance interment the bones of rabbits, possums, cats, and other various and luckless quadrupeds.” p. 63

(young rabbit in the well) “He brought green things to it every day and dropped them in and then one day he futtered a handful of garden lettuce down the hole and he remembered how some of the leaves fell across it and it didn’t move. He went away and he could see for a long time the rabbit down in the bottom of the well among the rocks with the lettuce over it.” p. 64

describing a market “By shoe windows where shoddy footgear rose in dusty tiers and clothing stores in whose vestibules iron racks stood packed with used coats, past bins of socks and stocking, a meat market where hams and ribcages dangled like gibbeted miscreants and in the glass cases square porcelain trays piled with meat white-spotted and trichinella-ridden, chinks of liver the color of clay tottering up from moats of water blood, a tray of brains, unidentifiable gobbets of flesh scattered here and there.” p.82

“And the sun running red on the mountain, high killy and stoop of a kestrel hunting, morning spiders at their crewelwork. But no muskrats struggled in his sets.” p. 87

“The old man remembered it now with dim regret. and remembered such nights when the air was warm as breath and the moon no dead thing.” p. 89

“The moon was higher now as he came past the stand of bullbriers into the orchard, the blackened limbs of the trees falling flatly as paper across the path and the red puddle of moon moving as he moved, sliding sodden and glob-like from limb to limb, flatly surreptitious, watching as he watched.” p. 89

“The glade seemed invested with an aura of antiquity, overhung with a silence both spectral and reverent.” p. 90

***”And on the very promontory of this lunar scene the tank like a great silver ikon, fat and bald and sinister.” p. 93

“But there was the house looming, taking shape as he approached, and he felt that he had come a great distance, a sleepwalker who might have spanned vast and dangerous terrains unwittingly and unharmed.” p. 93

“He dropped the lid of the locker closed and the lamp flickered, on the wall a black ghoul hulking over a bier wavered.” p. 94

“The bottle clattered on the floor, he lurched once, wildly, collapsed into the bread rack and went to the floor in a cascade of cupcakes and moonpies.” p. 96

“Wiping water from his eyes he looked about and saw the flashlight, still lit, scuttling downstream over the bed of the creek like some incandescent water-creature bent on escape.” p. 100

“They paid little attention to him and he just watched them, the injured man waving his arms, telling the story, the other scratching alternately belly and head and saying Godamighty softly to himself from time to time by way of comment.” p. 105

“Mornin, the man said cheerfully.
Are you hurt? she asked. She was small and blond and very angry-looking.” p. 107

“The boy looked down at himself, soggy and mudsplattered, seeds and burrs collected on his waterdark jeans like some rare botanical garden being cultivated there, at his rubber kneeboots with twigs and weeds sticking out of them,” p. 108


Child of God

McCarthy, Cormac. Child of God. New York, N.Y.: Vintage International. 1993.

(First published 1973)

“He rose and reached and prodded the pale blue underside of the snake with his finger. It shot forward and dropped to the floor with a thud and rifled over the boards like ink running in a gutter and was out the door and gone.” p. 16

“Going up a track of a road through the quarry woods where all about lay enormous blocks and tablets of stone weathered gray and grown with deep green moss, topped monoliths among the trees and vines like traces of an older race of man.” p. 25

“Ballard pointed the rifle at a large mottled tom and said bang. The cat looked at him without interest. It seemed to think him not too bright. Ballard spat on it and it immediately wiped the spittle from its head with a heavy forepaw and set about washing the spot.” p. 26

“Alone in the empty shell of a house the squatter watched through the moteblown glass a rimshard of bonecolored moon come cradling up over the black balsams on the ridge, ink trees a facile hand had sketched against the paler dark of winter heavens.” p. 41

“I’m from Pine Bluff Arkansas and I’m a fugitive from the ways of this world. I’d be a fugitive from my mind if I had me some snow.” p. 53

“All the trouble I ever was in, said Ballard, was caused by whiskey or women or both. He’d often heard men say as much.
All the trouble I ever was in was caused by gettin caught, said the black.” p. 53

“Uptown he walked around in the stores. He went into the postoffice and looked through the sheaves of posters. The wanted stared back with surly eyes. Men of many names. Their tattoos. Legends of dead loves inscribed on perishable flesh. A prevalence of blue panthers.” p. 55

“I’ll say one thing. He could by god shoot it. Hit anything he could see. I seen him shoot a spider out of a web in the top of a big redoak one time and we was far from the tree as from here to the road yonder.” p. 57.

“They was a bunch of us pretty hotshot birdhunters lost our money out there fore we got it figured out. What he was doin, this boy was loadin the old pigeons up the ass with them little firecrackers. They’d take off like they was home free and get up about so high and blam, it’d blow their asses out.” p. 58

“Well, they got us back there and got the gloves on me and all, and this feller that owned the ape, he told me, said: Now don’t hit him too hard out there cause if you do you’ll make him mad and you’ll be in some real trouble. I thought to myself: Well he’s tryin to save his ape a whippin is what he’s tryin to do. Tryin to protect his investment.” p. 59

“The crowd was moving toward the edge of a field and assembling there, Ballard among them, a sea of country people watching into the dark for some midnight contest to begin.” p. 65

“In the bloom of light too you could see two men out in the field crouched over their crate of fireworks like assassins or bridgeblowers.” p. 65

“The hounds’ voices in that vast and pale blue voided echoed like the cries of demon yodelers.” p. 68

“It’s like a lot of things, said the smith. Do the least part of it wrong and ye’d just as well to do it all wrong. He was sorting through handles standing in a barrel. Reckon you could do it now from watchin? he said.
Do what, said Ballard.” p. 74

White caps.

Returning to the car several times. p. 89

“He went outside and looked in through the window at her lying naked before the fire.” p. 92

“The dead girl lay in the other room away from the heat for keeping.” p. 94

“When they had gone from sight in the dry weeks one of them called back something but Ballard could not make it out. He stood in the door where they’d stood and he looked into the room to see could he repeat with his own eyes what they’d seen. Nothing was certain. She lay beneath rags.” p. 94

“She rose slumpshouldered from the floor with her hair all down and began to bump slowly up the ladder. Half-way up she paused, dangling. Then she began to rise again.” p. 95

“The flue howled with the enormity of the draw and red flames danced at the chimney top. An enormous brick candle burning in the night. Ballard crammed brush and pieces of stumpwood right up the chimney throat. He made coffee and leaned back on his pallet. Now freeze, you son of a bitch, he told the night beyond the window-pane.” p. 103

“He woke in the night with some premonition of ill fate. He sat up. The fire had diminished to a single tongue of flame that stood near motionless from the ashes. He lit the map and turned up the wick. A shifting mantle of smoke overhung the room. Thick ribbons of white smoke were seeping down between the boards in the ceiling and he could hear a light crackling noise overhead like something feeding. Oh shit, he said.” p. 104

“When he went back outside he had the bears and the tigers in his arms. The roof was now afire.” p. 105

“His finger filled the cold curve of the trigger. Bang, he said.” p. 109

“Behind the house stood the remains of several cars and from the rear glass of one of them a turkey watched him.” p. 110.

“You ort to be proud, Lester, that you aint’t never married. It is a grief and a heartache and they ain’t no reward in it atall. You just raise enemies in ye own house to grow up and cuss ye.” p. 111.

“The night out there was clear and cold and the moon sat in a great ring in the sky.” p. 118

looking for his empty shell p. 119

“As he whirled about there in the kitchen door the last thing he saw through the smoke was the idiot child. It was watching him, berryeyed filthy and frightless among the painted flames.” p. 120

“He halfway put his hand to the water as if he would touch the face that watched there but then he rose and wiped his mouth and went on through the woods.” p. 127

“At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned and these were like them.” p. 127

“He passed a windfelled tulip poplar on the mountainside that held aloft in the grip of its roots two stones the size of fieldwagons, great tablets on which was writ only a tale of vanished seas with ancient shells in cameo and fishes etched in lime.” p. 127-128

“The shrouded road wound off before him almost lost among the trees and a stream ran beside the road, dark under bowers of ice, small glassfanged caverns beneath tree roots where the water sucked unseen. In the frozen roadside weeds were coiled white ribbons of frost, you’d never figure how they came to be.” p. 128

Selling watches. p. 132.

“The nearer walls of the cavern composed themselves out of the constant night with their pale stone drapery folds and faultline in the vault’s ceiling appeared with a row of dripping limestone teeth. In the black smokehole overhead the remote and lidless stars of the Pleiades burned cold and absolute. p. 133

“Here the walls with their softlooking convolutions, slavered over as they were with wet and bloodred mud, had an organic look to them, like the innards of some great beast. Here in the bowels of the mountain Ballard turned his light on ledges or pallets of stone where dead people lay like saints.” p. 135

“With the advent of this weather bats began to stir from somewhere deep in the cave. Ballard lying on his pallet by the fire one evening saw them come from the dark of the tunnel and ascend through the hole overhead fluttering wildly in the ash and smoke like souls rising from hades.” p. 141

“When they were gone he watched the hordes of cold stars sprawled across the smokehole and wondered what stuff they were made of, or himself.” p. 141

“You put down that rifle and I will.
Any time you feel froggy, jump, said Ballard.” p. 150

“Scuttling down the mountain with the thing on his back he looked like a man beset by some ghost succubus, the dead girl riding him with legs bowed akimbo like a monstrous frog.” p. 153.

“In the dark Ballard passed beneath them, scuttling with his ragged chattel down stone tunnels within the mountain.” p. 154

“Once far downstream he thought he saw toy bears bobbing on the spate but they were lost from sight beyond a stand of trees and he was already nearer the highway than he wished and so turned back.” p. 157

“In the night it had frozen and he came up through a field of grass webbed with little panes of ice and into a wood where the trees were seized in ice each twig like small black bones in glass that cried or shattered in the wind.” p. 158

“Ballard’s shadow veering dark and mutant over the cupped stone walls.” p. 159

“you think people was meaner then than they are now? the deputy said.
The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said. I don’t. I think people are the same from the day God first made one.” p. 168

“Lying awake in the dark of the cave he thought he heard a whistling as he used to when he was a boy in his bed in the dark and he’d hear his father on the road coming home whistling, a lonely piper, but the only sound was the stream where it ran down through the cavern to empty it may be in unknown seas at the center of the earth.” p. 170

“Then the man said: Get up, Lester
Ballard pulled at the bedcovers. I ain’t allowed up, he said… He looked back once at the bed.” p. 178. Ballard at the hospital.

“He heard the mice scurry in the dark. Perhaps they’d nest in his skull, spawn their tiny bald and mewling whelps in the lobed caverns where his brains had been.” p. 189

“At the last seat in the rear a small boy was looking out the window, his nose puttied against the glass. There was nothing out there to see but he was looking anyway.” p. 191

“Ballard saw him from time to time as they were taken out for airing but he had nothing to say to a crazy man and the crazy man had long since gone mute with the enormity of his crimes.The hasp of his metal door was secured with a bent spoon and Ballard once asked if it were the same spoon the crazy man had used to eat the brains with but he got no answer.” p. 193

“As they went down the valley in the new fell dark basking nighthawks rose from the dust in the road before them with wild wings and eyes red as jewels in the headlights.” p. 197