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Amy Hempel

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When my mother died, my father's early widowhood gave him social cachet he would not have had if they had divorced. He was a bigger catch for the sorrow attached.
--
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

 
Amy Hempel

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Other children had fathers and mothers and honored them, and they prospered and lived to a ripe old age; but he was often bitter towards his father and mother and dishonored them in his heart. His mother had cuckolded his father, and his father had betrayed his mother, and both of them had betrayed the boy. The only consolation was that he had a Father in heaven. And yet—it would have been better to have a father on earth.

 
Halldor Laxness
 

My father, William C. Boulding, was a working plumber in business for himself. At the back of the house was the yard, a corrugated iron shed full of pipes, wrenches, and blow torches, and other mysterious and rather frightening apparatus. He had two faithful employees, Billy Fox, who was moody and regarded as a little queer, and Billy Sankey, who was short and cheerful. They and my father always smelled strongly of some kind of grease. My father was a gentle man. I never I never heard his voice raised in anger. He had had a very hard childhood. His father died soon after he was born; his mother married again, a man known in the family legends as "Pa Hardacre," about whom endless stories were told. He was a bigamist. He drove my father out of the house at the age of twelve to earn his own living on the streets of Liverpool. He constantly mistreated my half-aunts, Ethel and Rosie. He died before I was born, but my mother's accounts of him sounded like something out of Dickens.

 
Kenneth Boulding
 

My mother saw herself as a victim. Once upon a time she had shaped her future and made decisions -- she had left Somalia for Aden, divorced her first husband and chosen my father--but at some point, it seemed, she lost hope. Many Somali women in her position would have worked, would have taken control of their lives, but my mother, having absorbed the Arab attitude that pious women should not work outside the home, felt that this would not be proper. It never occurred to her to go out and create a new life for herself, although she can't have been older than thirty-five or forty when my father left. Instead, she remained completely dependent. She nursed grievances; she was resentful; she was often violent; and she was always depressed.

 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
 

When my dad died at the end of my sophomore year [at university], I stopped and took stock of my life. There was this real sense that my childhood was officially over. I decided I wanted to be an actor. I knew I was loved as a kid. The thing you can always rely on, your core person, comes from your family's attention and love. When my mother got sick, and I'd see her fight to survive, it gave me an early view of bravery and what life was about. I was able to prepare for it. Your mother dies, and you're eighteen, and you face a choice. Are you going to take drugs? Become a drunk? Or are you going to try to become more spiritual? Why not go with the thing that seems more positive? [pause] Why do I tend to be optimistic? Because the alternative is just crushing to my soul.

 
Martin Short
 

My father has asked me to be the fourth corner at the Joy Luck Club. I am to replace my mother, whose seat at the mah jong table has been empty since she died two months ago. My father thinks she was killed by her own thoughts.

 
Amy Tan
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