Ross Macdonald Famous Quotes & Sayings

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100 Ross Macdonald Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

Ross Macdonald Sayings: Graff was floating on his back in the pool when George Wall and I went Graff was floating on his back in the pool when George Wall and I went outside. His brown belly swelled above its surface like the humpback of a Galapagos tortoise. Mrs. Graff, fully clothed, was sitting by herself in a sunny corner. Her black dress and black hair seemed to annul the sunlight. Her face and body had the distinction that takes the place of beauty in people who have suffered long and hard.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: There's a contradiction in your thinking," I said. "If I took your dirty money, you There's a contradiction in your thinking," I said. "If I took your dirty money, you wouldn't be able to trust my honesty.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Some men spend their lives looking for ways to punish themselves for having been born. Some men spend their lives looking for ways to punish themselves for having been born.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: The smile that folded the puffed eyelids and creased the sagging cheeks was fixed and The smile that folded the puffed eyelids and creased the sagging cheeks was fixed and forced. I'd seen such smiles in mortuaries on the false face of death. It reminded me that I was going to grow old and die.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: As a man writes his fiction, his fiction is writing him. We can never change As a man writes his fiction, his fiction is writing him. We can never change ourselves back into what we were, any more than I can change these printed words. So we have to be careful about what we write.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: She touched his shoulder, very lightly, like a child fingering a forbidden object. She touched his shoulder, very lightly, like a child fingering a forbidden object.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: She was trouble looking for somebody to happen to. She was trouble looking for somebody to happen to.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: How can a man help breaking the law when he don't have money to live How can a man help breaking the law when he don't have money to live on?
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Jerkiness isn't as respectable as it used to be, not even in L.A. Which is Jerkiness isn't as respectable as it used to be, not even in L.A. Which is why they had to build Vegas.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: You are joking. You must want money. You work for money, don't you?""I want it You are joking. You must want money. You work for money, don't you?"
"I want it very badly," I said. "But I can't take this money. It wouldn't belong to me, I would belong to it. It would expect me to do things, and I would have to do them. Sit on the lid of this mess of yours, the way Marfeld did, until dry rot sets in.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: He wouldn't look at me. He stood against the wall, trying to merge with the He wouldn't look at me. He stood against the wall, trying to merge with the wall.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: On both sides of the highway I could see the rows of little frame houses, On both sides of the highway I could see the rows of little frame houses, all alike, as if there were only one architect in the city and he had a magnificent obsession.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Embarrassment thickened in his throat like phlegm. Embarrassment thickened in his throat like phlegm.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: innocent, as if they perceived only pre-selected facts. innocent, as if they perceived only pre-selected facts.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: People are trying so hard to live through their children. And the children keep trying People are trying so hard to live through their children. And the children keep trying so hard to live up to their parents, or live them down. Everybody's living through or for or against somebody else. It doesn't make too much sense, and it isn't working too well.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: I learned a great deal from [Raymond] Chandler - any writer can - but there I learned a great deal from [Raymond] Chandler - any writer can - but there had always been basic differences between us. One was in our attitude to plot. Chandler described a good plot as one that made for good scenes, as if the parts were greater than the whole. I see plot as a vehicle of meaning. It should be as complex as contemporary life, but balanced enough to say true things about it. The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run backward through the entire structure. Which means that the structure must be single, and intended.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: There was some kind of passion between them. It gave off a faint wrong smoky There was some kind of passion between them. It gave off a faint wrong smoky odor, like something burning where it shouldn't be, arson committed by children playing with matches. I
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: She put her hands over her ears and made a monkey face. Even then, she She put her hands over her ears and made a monkey face. Even then, she couldn't look ugly. She had such good bones, her skeleton would have been an ornament in any closet.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Pour alcohol on a bundle of nerves and it generally turns into a can of Pour alcohol on a bundle of nerves and it generally turns into a can of worms.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: I opened the door of her car and helped her in. Her breast leaned against I opened the door of her car and helped her in. Her breast leaned against my shoulder heavily. I moved back. I preferred a less complicated kind of pillow, stuffed with feathers, not memories and frustrations.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: An ugly woman with an ugly gun is a terrible thing. An ugly woman with an ugly gun is a terrible thing.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Hell lies at the bottom of the human heart. Hell lies at the bottom of the human heart.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: I felt like a lonely cat, an aging tom ridden by obscure rage, looking for I felt like a lonely cat, an aging tom ridden by obscure rage, looking for torn-ear trouble. I clipped that pitch off short and threw it away. Night streets were my territory, and would be till I rolled in the last gutter.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: I'm a sharpshooter. I still don't like to kill a man. It's too damn easy I'm a sharpshooter. I still don't like to kill a man. It's too damn easy to wipe one out and too damn hard to grow one.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Hate is usually a more compelling motive than love, Hate is usually a more compelling motive than love,
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: It was some time since I had gone to sleep in the same room with It was some time since I had gone to sleep in the same room with a girl. Of course, the room was large and reasonably well-lighted, and the girl had other things than me on her mind.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: There are certain families whose members should all live in different towns - different states, There are certain families whose members should all live in different towns - different states, if possible - and write each other letters once a year.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: The delicate sensitivity of a frightened rattlesnake. The delicate sensitivity of a frightened rattlesnake.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: I took the conch shell and set it to my ear. Its susurrus sounded less I took the conch shell and set it to my ear. Its susurrus sounded less like the sea than the labored breathing of a tiring runner. No doubt I heard what I was listening for.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: As I stood there absorbing Hammett's novel, the slot machines at the back of the As I stood there absorbing Hammett's novel, the slot machines at the back of the shop were clanking and whirring, and in the billiard room upstairs the perpetual poker game was being played.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: Some of us start out whole and stay that way.Some need a spare part or Some of us start out whole and stay that way.
Some need a spare part or two.
Henry - he was a bits-and-pieces kind of guy
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: What did the old man want?" "Your husband's money, just like everyone else." "But not What did the old man want?" "Your husband's money, just like everyone else." "But not you, eh?" Her voice was sardonic. "Not me," I said. "Money costs too much.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: She didn't look like any motel manager I had ever seen. More likely an actress She didn't look like any motel manager I had ever seen. More likely an actress who hadn't quite made the grade down south, or a very successful amateur tart on the verge of turning pro. Whatever her business was, there had to be sex in it. She was as full of sex as a grape is full of juice, and so young that it hadn't begun to sour.
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Ross Macdonald Sayings: He had pink butterfly ears. The rest of him was still in the larval stage. He had pink butterfly ears. The rest of him was still in the larval stage.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Anton was in his office, short and wide behind the desk in a gabardine suit Anton was in his office, short and wide behind the desk in a gabardine suit the color of lemon ice cream. His face was sunlamp brown.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I found myself wishing that we could live like the birds and move through nature I found myself wishing that we could live like the birds and move through nature without hurting it ourselves.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The sun, heavy and red, was almost down on the horizon now. Its image floated The sun, heavy and red, was almost down on the horizon now. Its image floated like spilled fire on the water. The
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I could smell fog even at this level now. It was rolling down from the I could smell fog even at this level now. It was rolling down from the mountains, flooding out the moon, as well as rising from the sea. The
Ross Macdonald Sayings: ...Miss Seeley came in.... She was a little older, a little thinner. Her tailored pinstriped ...Miss Seeley came in.... She was a little older, a little thinner. Her tailored pinstriped suit emphasized the boniness of her figure. But she still wore hopeful white ruffles at her wrists and throat.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I like a little danger. Tame danger, controlled by me. It gives me a sense I like a little danger. Tame danger, controlled by me. It gives me a sense of power, I guess, to take my life in my hands and know damn well I'm not going to lose it.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: For answer, he threw off the covers, swung his legs over the edge of the For answer, he threw off the covers, swung his legs over the edge of the high bed, reached for the floor with his bare feet, and stood up tottering. Then he fell forward onto his knees, his head swinging loose, slack as a killed buck.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Pretty was hardly the word. With her fierce curled lips, black eyes and clean angry Pretty was hardly the word. With her fierce curled lips, black eyes and clean angry bones she must have stood out in her graduating class like a chicken hawk in a flock of pullets.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Behind the semi-elliptical bar four cowboys who had never been near a cow sang western Behind the semi-elliptical bar four cowboys who had never been near a cow sang western songs which sounded as if they had originated in the far east.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I wanted to write as well as I possibly could to deal with life-and-death problems I wanted to write as well as I possibly could to deal with life-and-death problems in contemporary society. And the form of Wilkie Collins and Graham Greene, of Hammett and Chandler, seemed to offer me all the rope I would ever need.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: We treat the crime capital of the United States as if it was a second We treat the crime capital of the United States as if it was a second Disneyland, smelling like roses, a great place to take the family or hold a convention.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The second building was enormous. Its central corridor looked long enough to stage a hundred-yard-dash The second building was enormous. Its central corridor looked long enough to stage a hundred-yard-dash in. I contemplated making one. Ever since the Army, big institutions depressed me: channels, red tape, protocol, buck-passing, hurry up and wait. Only now and then you met a man with enough gumption to keep the big machine from bogging down of its own weight.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: In wine was truth, perhaps, but in whisky, the way Hoffman sluiced it down, was In wine was truth, perhaps, but in whisky, the way Hoffman sluiced it down, was an army of imaginary rats climbing your legs.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The smell of the sea, of kelp and fish and bitter moving water, rose stronger The smell of the sea, of kelp and fish and bitter moving water, rose stronger in my nostrils. It flooded my consciousness like an ancestral memory. The swells rose sluggishly and fell away, casting up dismal gleams between the boards of the pier. And the whole pier rose and fell in stiff and creaking mimicry, dancing its long slow dance of dissolution. I reached the end and saw no one, heard nothing but my footsteps and the creak of the beams, the slap of waves on the pilings. It was a fifteen-foot drop to the dim water. The nearest land ahead of me was Hawaii.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I knew how it was with drunks. They ran out of generosity, even for themselves. I knew how it was with drunks. They ran out of generosity, even for themselves.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The sea was surging among the pilings like the blithe mindless forces of dissolution. The sea was surging among the pilings like the blithe mindless forces of dissolution.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: daughter?' 'She was a beautiful child.' Mrs Williams's eyes grew misty with the quasi-maternal feelings daughter?' 'She was a beautiful child.' Mrs Williams's eyes grew misty with the quasi-maternal feelings of a procuress.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. I learned that at my mother's knee Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. I learned that at my mother's knee and other low joints,
Ross Macdonald Sayings: When there's trouble in a family, it tends to show up in the weakest member. When there's trouble in a family, it tends to show up in the weakest member. And all the other members of the family know that. They make allowances for the one in trouble.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: He made a production out of answering her, marching around to her side of the He made a production out of answering her, marching around to her side of the car, carrying his belly in front of him like a gift.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: She held her shoulders straighter, and her breasts were bold. She held her shoulders straighter, and her breasts were bold.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: She folded her arms across her breasts and looked at me like a lioness. She folded her arms across her breasts and looked at me like a lioness.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The sun burned like a fire ship on the water, sinking slowly till only a The sun burned like a fire ship on the water, sinking slowly till only a red smoke was left trailing up the sky. A fishing boat was headed into the harbor, black and small against the enormous west. Above its glittering wake a few gulls whirled like sparks which had gone out.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Flames entered the room like dancers, orange-colored and whirring. Flames entered the room like dancers, orange-colored and whirring.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I had a counter impulse to walk out of the bar and away from the I had a counter impulse to walk out of the bar and away from the Hacienda and her. She was trouble looking for somebody to happen to. And succeeding. I raised my drink and said with false cheer: 'Luck to the gold drinkers.' She sipped at hers.'You didn't say what kind of luck, good or bad. Not that it matters, people don't get their wishes. Wishing-wells are to drown in. But I mustn't go on like that. I'm always pitying myself, and that's neurotic.' She made a visible effort, and focused her attention on me: 'Speaking of luck, you don't as if you had too much luck in your life. Some of the kicks you say you go for were kicks in the head, I bet'.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I went through a living room crowded with overstuffed furniture in a green-and-white jungle design I went through a living room crowded with overstuffed furniture in a green-and-white jungle design from which eyes seemed to watch me, down a short hallway past a pink satin bedroom which reminded me of the inside of a coffin in disarray, to the open door of a bathroom. Tom's jacket lay across the threshold like the headless torso of a man, flattened by the passage of some enormous engine.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: We writers, as we work our way deeper into our craft, learn to drop more We writers, as we work our way deeper into our craft, learn to drop more and more personal clues. Like burglars who secretly wish to be caught, we leave our fingerprints on broken locks, our voiceprints in bugged rooms, our footprints in the wet concrete.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: He placed me in a straight chair against the wall, brought me an ashtray, sat He placed me in a straight chair against the wall, brought me an ashtray, sat at his desk with his back to the window. He was quick in movement, very still in repose. His bald scalp and watchful eyes made him resemble a lizard waiting for a fly to expose itself.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run backward through the entire structure.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Neighborhood grocery stores, coal yards, gas stations, cheap taverns, big old rundown houses, a few Neighborhood grocery stores, coal yards, gas stations, cheap taverns, big old rundown houses, a few churches with blank embarrassed faces.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I've spilled all my secrets. How do you make people do it?" "I don't. People I've spilled all my secrets. How do you make people do it?" "I don't. People like to talk about what's hurting them. It takes the edge off the pain sometimes.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: When I stepped out of my car the night shot up like a tree and When I stepped out of my car the night shot up like a tree and branched wide into blossoming masses of stars. Under their far cold lights I felt weak and little. If a fruit fly lived for one day instead of two, it hardly seemed to matter. Except to another fruit fly.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: He gave me an appealing look, which fell with a thud between us: He gave me an appealing look, which fell with a thud between us:
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I'm sick of always doing the professional thing for prudential reasons.' I I'm sick of always doing the professional thing for prudential reasons.' I
Ross Macdonald Sayings: A cockroach stepped out from behind the ketchup, gave me a quick impassive once-over, decided A cockroach stepped out from behind the ketchup, gave me a quick impassive once-over, decided that I was of the Brahmin faith, and walked earnestly across the table on errands of his own. Somebody had left a newspaper on the bench beside me, and I picked it up and swatted the cockroach, permitting his soul to transmigrate into the body of a quartermaster.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Tourists and transients lived in hotels and motels along the waterfront. Behind them a belt Tourists and transients lived in hotels and motels along the waterfront. Behind them a belt of slums lay ten blocks deep, where the darker half of the population lived and died. On the other side of the tracks - the tracks were there - the business section wore its old Spanish facades like icing on a stale cake.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: had chewed and swallowed it, he said: "I don't generally let the language flow around had chewed and swallowed it, he said: "I don't generally let the language flow around here. People, the richer they get, the more they dislike to hear a Negro express himself in well-chosen words. I guess they feel there's no point in being rich unless you can feel superior to somebody. I study English on the college level, but if I talked that way I'd lose my job. People are very sensitive.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Now take it easy. This is a gun I have at your back. Don't you Now take it easy. This is a gun I have at your back. Don't you feel it?"
I felt it. I took it easy.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The tea tasted like a clear dark dripping from the past. My grandmother came back The tea tasted like a clear dark dripping from the past. My grandmother came back with it, in crisp black funeral silks,
Ross Macdonald Sayings: He looked like a sleepwalker waking up on the verge of a precipice. He looked like a sleepwalker waking up on the verge of a precipice.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Don't be silly," he said uncertainly. "Now, what's your problem? If you think you're broke, Don't be silly," he said uncertainly. "Now, what's your problem? If you think you're broke, I'm broker, ask my broker.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: My free hand reached for something to hold on to, and closed on liquid nothing. My free hand reached for something to hold on to, and closed on liquid nothing.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The Archer novels are about various kinds of brokenness. The Archer novels are about various kinds of brokenness.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I had reached the point when I could not see anything clearly ahead, I needed I had reached the point when I could not see anything clearly ahead, I needed help, and I got it.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: You notice things.""A sexburger like her I notice." The tip of his tongue protruded between You notice things."
"A sexburger like her I notice." The tip of his tongue protruded between his teeth, which were a good grade of plastic.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: A moon like a fallen fruit reversing gravity was hoisting itself above the rooftops. A moon like a fallen fruit reversing gravity was hoisting itself above the rooftops.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: As a man gets older, if he knows what is good for him, the women As a man gets older, if he knows what is good for him, the women he likes are getting older too. The trouble is that most of them are married.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Like other self-educated men, he was vain of his vocabulary. Like other self-educated men, he was vain of his vocabulary.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The fire bit into my legs like a rabid fox. The fire bit into my legs like a rabid fox.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The apparent facts, if you like. I'm not a philosopher. We lawyers don't deal in The apparent facts, if you like. I'm not a philosopher. We lawyers don't deal in ultimate realities. Who knows what they are? We deal in appearances.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: If California is a state of mind, Hollywood is where you take its temperature. There If California is a state of mind, Hollywood is where you take its temperature. There is a peculiar sense in which this city existing mainly on film and tape is our national capital, alas, and not just the capital of California. It's the place where our children learn how and what to dream and where everything happens just before, or just after, it happens to us.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: No more guns for you. No more guns for you.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Try listening to yourself sometime, alone in a transient room in a strange town. The Try listening to yourself sometime, alone in a transient room in a strange town. The worst is when you draw a blank, and the ash-blonde ghosts of the past carry on long twittering long-distance calls with your inner ear, and there's no way to hang up.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I found when I followed the driveway around to the back that behind its imposing I found when I followed the driveway around to the back that behind its imposing front it was just another tract house, as if the architect had tried to combine a southern plantation mansion with the slave quarters.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: No one looks at the mountains. But they were there, making them all look silly. No one looks at the mountains. But they were there, making them all look silly.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Money costs too much. Money costs too much.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: I used to think the world was divided into good people and bad people, that I used to think the world was divided into good people and bad people, that you could pin responsibility for evil on certain definite people and punish the guilty. I'm still going through the motions.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: The walls were lined with books, many of them in foreign languages, like insulation against The walls were lined with books, many of them in foreign languages, like insulation against the immediate present.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: She said surprisingly, in a voice as thin as a flute:"Are you a good man?""I She said surprisingly, in a voice as thin as a flute:
"Are you a good man?"
"I like to think so," but her candor stopped me. "No," I said, "I'm not. I keep trying, when I remember to, but it keeps getting tougher every year. Like trying to chin yourself with one hand. You can practice off and on all your life, and never make it.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: If you can't pass on a little loving-kindness in this world, you might as well If you can't pass on a little loving-kindness in this world, you might as well be a gopher in a hole.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: He hadn't wanted to be helped the way I wanted to help him, the way He hadn't wanted to be helped the way I wanted to help him, the way that helped me.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: A young man with an untrimmed beard and rebellious eyes looked like a conscientious objector A young man with an untrimmed beard and rebellious eyes looked like a conscientious objector to everything.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: his manner had the heavy ease of a politician, poised between bullying and flattery. his manner had the heavy ease of a politician, poised between bullying and flattery.
Ross Macdonald Sayings: Vallon was said to have a Puritan conscience but I had never met his conscience. Vallon was said to have a Puritan conscience but I had never met his conscience.