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Colm Toibin Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Colm Toibin.

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Colm Toibin Quotes 2248258

The only routine I have is that I finish everything I start. I wake up early every day - about 6.30 A.M. - but I do not work every day. I could laze for a day or two, but I wouldn't do it for three. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 2240239

You know that you are the only person who shakes his head in exasperation when I insist on making jokes and small talk, when I refuse to be direct. No one else has ever minded this as you do. You are alone in wanting me always to say something that is true. I know now, as I walk towards the house I have rented here, that if I called and toldyou that the bitter past has come back to me tonight in these alien streets with a force that feels like violence, you would say that you are not surprised. You would wonder only why it has taken six years. — Colm Toibin

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It is important to find a publisher and equally important not to be noticed until your third or fourth book. — Colm Toibin

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None of them could help her. She had lost all of them. They would not find out about this; she would not put it into a letter. And because of this she understood that they would never know her now. Maybe, she thought, they had never known her, any of them, because if they had, then they would have had to realize what this would be like for her. — Colm Toibin

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the problem for her was that she was on her own now and that she had no idea how to live. — Colm Toibin

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I suppose one should have an integrated personality, but I've never really seen the point. — Colm Toibin

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Time and patience would bring a snail to America,' he repeated. — Colm Toibin

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I first went to Barcelona in 1975 after university, and I stayed for three years. I learnt Catalan because that's what everyone speaks in the mountains. They speak English to foreigners, but what people say to each other is much more important than what they say to you. — Colm Toibin

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It is terrible to be an unprotected being. — Colm Toibin

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She has gone back to Brooklyn,' her mother would say. And, as the train rolled past Macmire Bridge on its way towards Wexford, Eilis imagined the years already when these words would come to mean less and less to the man who heard them and would come to mean more and more to herself. She almost smiled at the thought of it, then closed her eyes and tried to imagine nothing more. — Colm Toibin

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And then it occurred to her that she was already feeling that she would need to remember this room, her sister, this scene, as though from a distance. — Colm Toibin

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I dreamed of setting it up out here in front of where I am sitting now, on the tripod that I would have ordered too, and starting, taking my time, to focus on a curling line of water, a piece of the world indifferent to the fact that there is language, that there are names to describe things, and grammar and verbs. My eye, solitary, filled with its own history, is desperate to evade, erase, forget; it is watching now, watching fiercely, like a scientist looking for a cure, deciding for some days to forget about words, to know at last that the words for colours, the blue-grey-green of the sea, the whiteness of the waves, will not work against thefullness of watching the rich chaos they yield and carry. — Colm Toibin

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All writing is a form of manipulation, of course, but you realize that a plain sentence can actually do so much. — Colm Toibin

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I went to live in Barcelona in 1975, when I was twenty. Even before I went there, I knew more about the Spanish Civil War than I did about the Irish Civil War. I liked Barcelona, and then I grew to like a place in the Catalan Pyrenees called the Pillars, especially an area between the village of Flavors and the high mountains around it. — Colm Toibin

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I think fiction lends itself to messiness rather than the ideal, and plays well with the ironies surrounding what happens versus what should happen. And yes, I suppose I was interested in that story in the gap between memory itself, the real business of being alive, and the imagination. — Colm Toibin

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She explained to him that she had been homesick, and that Father Flood had inscribed her on the course as a way of making her busy, and how studying in the evening made her feel happy, or as happy as she had been since she had left home. — Colm Toibin

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For a while she was quietly resigned to the prospect that nothing would change, but she did not know what the consequences would be, or what form they would take. — Colm Toibin

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From now on the architects would take over as the high preists of this bourgeois city. — Colm Toibin

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It was like the arrival of night when you knew that you would never see anything in daylight again. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 803734

As they sat at the table, she did not like the girls talking among themselves, or discussing matters she knew nothing about, and she did not encourage any mention of boyfriends. She was mainly interested in clothes and shoes, and where they could be bought and at what price and at what time of the year. Changing fashions and new trends were her daily topic, although she herself, as she often pointed out, was too old for some of the new colours and styles. Yet, Eilis saw, she dressed impeccably and noticed every item each of her lodgers was wearing. She also loved discussing skin care and different types of skin and problems. Mrs. Kehoe had her hair done once a week, on a Saturday, using the same hairdresser each time, spending several hours with her so that her hair would be perfect for the rest of the week. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 1542974

Even though she let these thoughts run as fast as they would, she still stopped when her mind moved towards real fear or dread or, worse, towards the thought that she was going to lose this world for ever, that she would never have an ordinary day again in this ordinary place, that the rest of her life would be a struggle with the unfamiliar. — Colm Toibin

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The old Victorian laws against homosexuality were still on the statute books until the early 1990s. As a gay man living in Ireland, I and people like me found it easy to feel less than citizens. — Colm Toibin

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Solitude is good in the evening. Dublin is a quiet city when you get to a certain age, when your friends settle down and have kids. Nothing much happens here. — Colm Toibin

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I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult, and this means, I think, that pleasure is out of the question. I would associate this with narcissism anyway, and I would disapprove of it. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 1443274

A novelist's job is almost to be a stupid as possible, except in the cunning moment when you need to structure something, when you need to be very intelligent indeed. The rest of the time, you need almost an empty mind, where you can let any image in, follow it along, and allow an emotional charge, almost the way actors and singers can work. The more instinct you have as a novelist, and the less intelligence, the better. — Colm Toibin

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I'm hungry." "We're all hungry. But, darling, you don't need to look hungry. Pretend you are full." "And — Colm Toibin

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My first novel was turned down by about twenty publishers over a period of two and a half years. Because my name is Irish and would not be familiar to English editors, one of them said: 'If she writes anything else, do let us know.' Slowly, very slowly, the books began to sell and be noticed. — Colm Toibin

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Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep - it can't be done abruptly. — Colm Toibin

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Eilis was fascinated by [ ... ] his sweet duplicity in giving no sign of what had happened before. She was almost glad to know that he had secrets and had ways of calmly keeping them. — Colm Toibin

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Suffering is too strong a word, but writing is serious work. I pull the stuff up from me - it's not as if it's a pleasure. — Colm Toibin

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But he also knew that, as much as he wanted to aid and console the soldier, he wanted to be alone in his room with the night coming down and a book close by and pen and paper and the knowledge that the door would remain shut until the morning came and he would ne be disturbed. The gap between these two desires filled him with sadness and awe at the mystery of the self, the mystery of having a single consciousness, knowing merely its own bare feelings and experiencing singly and alone it own pain or fear or pleasure or complacency. — Colm Toibin

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I am violently untidy. My desk is overcrowded. I write my first drafts in longhand in a long notebook using a plastic throwaway fountain pen. Then I work on a word processor using a different desk and a different room. — Colm Toibin

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Eilis replied to say that it was not just Mrs Kehoe, who was not in any way extravagant, it was everyone in America, they all kept their heating on all night. As — Colm Toibin

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What she would need to do in the days before she left and on the morning of her departure was smile, so that they would remember her smiling. * — Colm Toibin

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I do not care much about the mysteries of the universe, unless they come to me in words, or in music maybe, or in a set of colours, and then I entertain them merely for their beauty and only briefly. — Colm Toibin

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New people arrive and they could be Jewish or Irish or Polish or even coloured. Our old customers are moving out to Long Island and we can't follow them, so we need new customers every week. We treat everyone the same. We welcome every single person who comes into this store — Colm Toibin

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May Lacey, wisps of thin grey hair appearing from under her hat, her scarf still around her neck, sat opposite Nora in the back room and began to talk. After a while, the boys went upstairs; Conor, when Nora called him, was too shy to come down and say good night, but soon Donal came and sat in the room with them, carefully studying May Lacey, saying nothing. — Colm Toibin

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John McGovern taught me that it's OK to write repeatedly about the same things. — Colm Toibin

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By day the old area of Barcelona is bustling, full of shouting, hammering, drilling and shutters being pulled up and down. You listen out for sounds.
If you want a replacement gas cylinder you wait for the sound of the delivery man hitting a cylinder with a piece of metal in the street. — Colm Toibin

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The novel space is a pure space. I'm nobody once I go into that room. I'm not gay, I'm not bald, I'm not Irish. I'm not anybody. I'm nobody. I'm the guy telling the story, and the only person that matters is the person reading that story, the target. It's to get that person to feel what I'm trying to dramatize. — Colm Toibin

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Between the time I was 16 until I was about 20, the books I read were by people like Thomas Mann, James Baldwin, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Bishop. All gay, of course, although I swear I didn't know that at the time. Yet all of them, it turned out, had had a parent who died during their childhood. Sexuality is nothing compared to that. — Colm Toibin

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I like it that they [disciples] feed me and pay for my clothes and protect me. And in return I will do for them what I can, but no more than that. Just as I cannot breathe the breath of another or help the heart of someone else to beat or their bones not to weaken or their flesh not to shrivel, I cannot say more than I can say. And I know how deeply this disturbs them, and it would make me smile, this earnest need for foolish anecdote or sharp simple patterns in the story of what happened to us all, except that I have forgotten how to smile. — Colm Toibin

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Describe character using dialogue. Describe character using what the characters see or do or think, but not what they had done or where they had been. — Colm Toibin

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I remember too much; I am like the air on a calm day as it holds itself still, letting nothing escape. — Colm Toibin

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The idea that what had happened could be erased, that the burden that was on her now could be lifted, that the past could be restored and could make its way effortlessly into a painless present. — Colm Toibin

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He had grown fat on solitude, he thought, and had learned to expect nothing from the day but at best a dull contentment. Sometimes the dullness came to the fore with a strange and insistent ache which he would entertain briefly, but learn to keep at bay. Mostly, however, it was the contentment he entertained; the slow ease and the silence could, once night had fallen, fill him with a happiness that nothing, no society nor the company of any individual, no glamour or glitter, could equal. — Colm Toibin

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Dreams belong to each of us alone, just as pain does. — Colm Toibin

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The men could be easily distinguished as fellow Americans by the quality of their mustaches and the innocent and amicable expressions on their faces; the several women could only have come from New England, making this clear, he felt, by their willingness to allow their menfolk the right to speak at length while confining their own talk to short and brisk, intelligent interruptions or slightly disagreeable remarks once the men had finished. — Colm Toibin

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On one of the nights during my journey I wandered out under the sky which was lit with stars and I believed for a moment that soon these stars would cease to glitter, that the nights of the future would be dark beyond dark, that the world itself would undergo a great change, and then I quickly came to see that the change would happen only to me and to the few who knew me; it would be only we who would look at the sky at night in the future and see the darkness before we saw the glitter. We would see the glittering stars as false and mocking, or as bewildered themselves by the night as we were , as leftover things confined to their place, their shining nothing more than a sort of pleading. — Colm Toibin

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The sentences I write have their roots in song and poetry, and take their bearings from music and painting, as much as from the need to impart mere information, or mirror anything. I am not a realist writer, even if I seem like one. — Colm Toibin

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Carefully, she went back up the stairs and found that if she moved along the first landing she would be able to see him from above. Somehow, she thought, if she could look at him, take him in clearly when he was not trying to amuse her or impress her, something would come to her, some knowledge, or some ability to make a decision. — Colm Toibin

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So this was what being alone was like, she thought. ... It was this wandering in a sea of people with the anchor lifted, and all of it oddly pointless and confusing. — Colm Toibin

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I wrote every day between the ages of 12 and 20 when I stopped because I went to Barcelona, where life was too exciting to write. — Colm Toibin

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The rest of the time he entertained all the guilt that wished to call, carried in by the wind through the darkness, to enter his spirit ... — Colm Toibin

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more she thought about it the more she came — Colm Toibin

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There will always be reservations, things one must leave out, events one can't explain without handing over a full map of one's life, unfolding it, making clear that all the lines and contours stand for long days and nights when things were bad or good, or when things were too small to be described at all: when things just were. This is a life. — Colm Toibin

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I've never put Northern Ireland into a novel because it's not my territory. I come from the South, so my imaginative territory is very much the Republic of Ireland rather than the North. Even though, if I wrote a novel about the North, it might sell more. — Colm Toibin

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In the meantime, when I wake in the night, I want more. I want what happened not to have happened, to have taken another course. — Colm Toibin

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I turned and moved fast, focusing swiftly on a wave I had selected for no reason. There was whiteness and grenyess in it and a sort of blue and green. It was a line. It did not toss, nor did it stay still. It was all movement, all spillage, but it was pure containment as well, utterly focused just as I was watching it. It had an elemental hold; it was something coming towards us as though to save us but it did nothing instead, it withdrew in a shurgging irony, as if to suggest that this is what the world is, and our time in it, all lifted possibility, all complexity and rushing fervour, to end in nothing on a small strand, and go back out to rejoin the empty family from whom we had set out alone with such a burst of brave unknowing energy. — Colm Toibin

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History is a way of interpreting, rather than, say, knowing, the past. It is usually a set of disputes between those who have access to the same sources. It depends on ideology as much as voting in an election does. — Colm Toibin

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She felt almost guilty that she had handed some of her grief to him, and then she felt close to him for his willingness to take it and hold it, in all its rawness, all its dark confusion. — Colm Toibin

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In my 20s, as I began to travel in Europe, I found comfort in religious paintings. Even though my own belief in Catholic dogma had been shaken and weakened, I found that the beauty and the richness of the art still held me. — Colm Toibin

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Anyone who works in the arts knows, if you're writing a novel or a play or anything, you have to be ready for someone to say, 'Your time is up.' — Colm Toibin

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Life is but a day and expresses mainly a single note. — Colm Toibin

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If water can be changed into wine and the dead can be brought back, then I want time pushed back. — Colm Toibin

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Life has a funny way of becoming ordinary as soon as it can. — Colm Toibin

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The boy became a man and left home and became a dying figure on a cross. I want to be able to imagine that what happened to him will not come, it will see us and decide - not now, not them. And we will be left in peace to grow old. — Colm Toibin

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I have,' Georgina said. 'I go home once a year to see my mam. It's a lot of suffering for a week. By the time I've recovered I have to go back. But I love seeing them all. We're not getting any younger, any of us, so it's nice to spend a week together. — Colm Toibin

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Some people are nice and if you talk to them properly, they can be even nicer. -Rose — Colm Toibin

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She closed her eyes and tried to think, as she had done so many times in her life, of something she was looking forward to, but there was nothing. Not the slightest thing. Not even Sunday. Nothing maybe except sleep, and she was not even certain she was looking forward to sleep. In any case, she could not sleep yet, since it was not yet nine o'clock. There was nothing she could do. It was as though she had been locked away. In — Colm Toibin

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I have to write a first draft with a fountain pen before I type it up as a second. — Colm Toibin

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He was delighted by things, as he was delighted by her, and he had done nothing else ever but make that clear. — Colm Toibin

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Memory fills my body as much as blood and bones. — Colm Toibin

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Rose appeared to be in a sort of dream. As Eilis watched her, it struck her that she had never seen Rose look so beautiful. And then it occurred to her that she was already feeling that she would need to remember this room, her sister, this scene, as though from a distance. In the silence that had lingered, she realized, it had somehow been tacitly arranged that Eilis would go to America. Father Flood, she believed, had been invited to the house because Rose knew that he could arrange it. Her — Colm Toibin

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Wait until you're old, Nora," she said, "and then you'll know. It's the mixture of being content with even the smallest thing and then feeling a great dissatisfaction with everything. — Colm Toibin

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The world has loosened, like a woman preparing for bed who lets her hair flow free. And I am whispering the words, knowing that words matter, and smiling as I say them to the shadows of the gods of this place who linger in the air to watch me and hear me. — Colm Toibin

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Tony was so wrapped up in the game that it gave her a chance to let her thoughts linger on him, float towards him, noting how different from her he was in every way. The idea that he would never see her as she felt that she saw him now came to her as an infinite relief, as a satisfactory solution to things. — Colm Toibin

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We can all have plenty of lives, but there are limits. You never can tell what they are. — Colm Toibin

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What is hard to understand is that our dreams matter — Colm Toibin

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She thought it was strange that the mere sensation of savouring the prospect of something could make her think for a while that is must be the prospect of home. — Colm Toibin

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Writing tends to be very deliberate. A novelist could probably run a military campaign with some success. They could certainly run a country. — Colm Toibin

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That which interest me above all else,' he wrote,'is the caligraphy of a tree or the tiles of a roof, and I mean leaf by leaf, branch by branch, blade by blade of the grass. — Colm Toibin

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Well, I didn't really know what to say. So maybe I should say that I have thought about you and I like you, I like seeing you, I care for you and maybe I love you too. And the next time if you tell me you love me, I'll
She stopped.
"You'll what?"
"I'll say I love you too. — Colm Toibin

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People's interest in glamour and clothes and nylon stockings and all those things were, when I was a little boy, the sort of world that I listened to. — Colm Toibin

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There were always children, Miss — Colm Toibin

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She was lonely without Blunt, but she was lonelier at the idea that the world went on as though she had not loved him. — Colm Toibin

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You will be hearing from me," she said, as he opened the door for her. "And you will find that when I am crossed I am very formidable. — Colm Toibin

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You have to keep writing. It's almost like practice, almost like tennis, that actually after a few days of not writing, first of all it makes you slightly depressed and uneasy, but it also affects the style when you start up again. You need to get the show on the road. — Colm Toibin

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As they looked at one another, Nora felt Fiona was hostile, and forced herself to remember how upset she must be, and how lonely she might be too. She smiled as she said that they would have to go and in return Fiona smiled at her and at the boys. As soon as Nora walked away, however, she felt helpless and regretted not having said something kind or special or consoling to Fiona before they left her; maybe even something as simple as asking her when she was coming down next, or emphasising how much they looked forward to seeing her soon. She wished she had a phone in the house so she could keep in more regular touch with her. She thought that she might write Fiona a note in the morning thanking her for coming to meet them. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 1880954

Making such leaps (into the dark) requires us to be brave and determined, but doing so may also freeze other possibilities. It is easier to renounce bravery, rather than be brave over and over. It could not, in her case, be done again. The will and the nerve needed for such actions do not come to us often, any of us, least of all Isabel Archer from Albany. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 1901478

In Ireland, novels and plays still have a strange force. The writing of fiction and the creation of theatrical images can affect life there more powerfully and stealthily than speeches, or even legislation. Imagined worlds can lodge deeply in the private sphere, dislodging much else, especially when the public sphere is fragile. — Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin Quotes 1924172

At the moment the only topic she could discuss was herself. And everyone, she felt, had heard enough about her. They believed it was time that she stop brooding and think of other things. But there were no other things. There was only what had happened. It was as though she lived underwater and had given up on the struggle to swim towards air. It would be too much. Being released into the world of others seemed impossible; it was something she did not even want. How could she explain this to anyone who sought to know how she was or asked if she was getting over what happened? — Colm Toibin

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Now, she felt that she was being singled out for something for which she was not in any way prepared, and this, despite the fear it carried with it, gave her a feeling, or more a set of feelings, she thought she might experience in the days before her wedding, days in which everyone looked at her in the rush of arrangements with light in their eyes, days in which she herself was fizzy with excitement but careful not to think too precisely about what the next few weeks would be like in case she lost her nerve. — Colm Toibin

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In the morning, she was not sure that she had slept as much as lived a set of vivid dreams, letting them linger so that she would not have to open her eyes and see the room. — Colm Toibin

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As his widow, she knew who she was and what she had inherited. She had loved him in her way and sometimes missed him. She knew what words like "loved" and "missed" meant when she thought of her husband. When she thought of Blunt, on the other hand, she was unsure what anything meant except the sonnets she had written about their love affair. — Colm Toibin

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The Roman Catholic Church and its rituals were so much part of life that, although my parents would often question a small matter of dogma and none of us seemed more religious than anyone else, no one ever questioned the rituals or the basic tenets of belief. — Colm Toibin

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I do not know why it matters that I should tell the truth to myself at night, why it should matter that the truth should be spoken at least once in the world. Because the world is a place of silence, the sky at night when the birds have gone is a vast silent place. Words will make the slightest difference to the sky at night. They will not brighten it or make it less strange. And the day too has its own deep indifference to anything that is said. — Colm Toibin

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Between the ages of 8 and 12 it was difficult to know what my father was saying, and he moved very slowly, and then he died. — Colm Toibin

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The best thing about New York is working late into the night. At 1 in the morning on a Saturday, to be still working, there's an immense satisfaction in being enclosed by it. — Colm Toibin

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We walk among them sometimes, the ones who have left us. They are filled with something that none of us knows yet. It is a mystery. — Colm Toibin