"Little Altars Everywhere" by Rebecca Wells (Quotes)

“Little Altars Everywhere” is a novel by Rebecca Wells, the author of “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”. The former has the same characters as the latter; I personally have read the Ya-Ya Sisterhood first and I understood that novel and its movie better after I have read Little Altars Everywhere. The family troubles there, especially the mother-daughter conflict, definitely exists in real life, but everything was lightened up by the humorous perspective of the characters, especially of Siddalee Walker and Viviane Abbot-Walker. I have listed some quotes from the novel that I find amusing, and not necessarily wise or educational or whatever:


“You have to start early if you plan to be popular. Mama was extremely popular when she was growing up. She was elected Most Well-Liked, she was head cheerleader, captain of the girls’ tennis team, and assistant editor of the yearbook. Everyone at Thornton high knew who she was. Even though it sometimes wore her out, she said Hi! to every single soul she passed in the hall. It was a lot of work, but that was how her reputation was built. Mama understands the gospel of popularity and she is passing it on to me so I won’t be left out on the fringes.”

“Mama always says, If you can’t sing it good, Siddalee, at least sing it loud.”

“Mimi says, I know a nasty joke. Yall wanna hear? Her joke is all about this man who gets his Thing stuck in a hole in the floor, and I laugh and laugh even though I don’t think it’s all that funny. I have seen both of my brothers’ Things and they look like turkey necks to me. Like if you’re not careful they could get slammed in a door and fall right off on the floor. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad I’m a girl with everything tucked up inside where things can’t get at it so easy.”

“Sometimes just have to reach out and grab what you want, even when they tell you not to. This is something that I have struggled with my whole life long.”

“But God said, The only reason you wanted twins in the first place was to get attention. I was cheated. Children do not bring you attention. They take it all away.”

“I always tell my two daughters: Don’t ever underestimate the power women have over men. And don’t ever let them know you have it either.”

“I am her mother, though, and it is my job to teach her that you cannot escape from life. Life is not a book. You can’t just set it down on the coffee table and walk away from it when it gets boring or you get tired.”

“My Daddy says, if a dog can’t live off table scraps, then it’s not a dog. He says, If a dog can’t live out in the yard no matter what the season, then it might as well be a goddamn stuffed animal at the Louisiana State Fair.”

“I don’t blame the dog for being crazy. Dogs are dogs. You teach them to obey, you feed them what’s left over from supper, and you pick cockleburs out of their coats. You don’t pull a dog up on the couch with you and talk to it like a human baby and wait for it to talk back to you in plain English.”

“I ran in there to see what was happening and I tell you – it was truly something awful. I’ve seen plenty of puppies born at Pecan Grove and at my cousins’. It doesn’t scare me. But that dog was being ripped apart. Made me glad I wasn’t a girl.”

“She says: Your father is so rich that you’ll probably break our record player on purpose just to show he can afford to buy a brand new one. Blessed are the poor, Siddalee Walker, and you are not one of them.”

“But when push came to shove, Daddy refused to join the Catholic Church. He said, Yall are like sheep to the slaughter when it comes to the Penguins (which is what he calls the brides of Christ). Yall can drag me to Mass on Christmas, he says, but other than that, don’t swing that damn incense in the direction of my sinuses.”

“Impure thoughts, impure acts – everywhere I turn, I stump my toe on impurity. It seems like every thought that comes into my head is impure. I worry that I’m sinning all the time just because of the way my mind works.”

“She keeps driving along for a minute or two before she says, Listen to me, Siddale, and listen good: There is no excuse to let your looks go, no matter how poor you are. Cleanliness might be next to godliness, but honey let me tell you, ugliness will get you nowhere.”

“Amy said you could tell they were tongue-kissing because of the way their heads moved. Your head moves different when you tongue-kiss because of the suction. I haven’t tongue-kissed yet, but Amy has. She says it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, that sometimes it can make you gag. But I think it must have something going for it, since the Penguins say it’s a mortal sin.”

“As far as I’m concerned, my own mother does not pay enough attention to lingerie. She just wears plain old white panties. If she got in a car wreck and died with them on, she wouldn’t have to be exactly humiliated. But still, she could do so much better.”

“My hair is almost down to my waist, and if it isn’t done in a certain way it just drives Mama to the insane asylum. She says with all my hair I could easily look like a poor white trash or a Pentecostal if I’m not careful. This morning, though, she completely forgets about my hair, and I’m glad, because the way she usually whips it around feels like she is really trying to jerk me bald-headed. She always says, That’s the price you have to pay for beauty, Siddalee.”

“We all get Cokes too, even though Daddy says that having a cold drink before twelve noon is a ‘whore’s breakfast’.”

“But I can feel the ground underneath me. And I tell myself: The earth is holding me up. I am lighter than I was before. My hair is like the grass planted on top of my head. If I can just wait long enough, maybe it will grow back in some other season.”

“She say, Letta, it’s a sin for you to wear that wig Chaney got you because it makes you vain.”

“She a white white woman, she can do whatever she want.”

“Cause some people God give to you to look out after, and that just be how it is. I got to keep my gaze on them children till the day I die. Too many things can happen in the blink of an eye, and that’s why I count my blessings every single day.”

“That’s why I tole my girls, that’s why I tell my granchilren: Don’t even worry bout bein holy, babychild. Just keep your eyes wide open except when you sleep. Then let the Lord’s mighty vision see you through the night.”

“My hearing was already bad in my left ear by then. It took the doctors a while to diagnose it, but finally they said, You’ve lost eighty-three percent of the hearing in your left ear. Claimed it was from early exposure to guns and loud farm equipment. I could of told them exactly what it was, though: I made the hearing go out of that ear because it’s the one that faced the wall when I tried to sleep. I got tired of hearing all the shit you had to listen to in that house.”

“Lots of times people make the mistake of underestimating you on the account of the way you talk. I’ve seen this in my own life. That stutter might of made him sound stupid, but it’s by a man’s eyes that you know his intelligence.”

“You oughta thank the Good Lord you got two legs to stand on, I tell him.”

“Some people, they is gonna be unhappy no matter what. You could give them ever’thing you have. Take the blood out of you own body and give it to them and they’d still be miserable. That just be the way it is.”

“You hand-wash a family’s underthings and you learn more about them than you ever want to.”

“So I set outside in the yard and paste things up in my scrapbook. Pictures and news clippings, old ticket stubs – oh, just all kinds of things. I gotta get them all in my book fore I lose thought of them. Time fly so fast, you gotta get it down in the book. I put all kind of stuff up in there…My book hold my success, it hold my sorrow, it hold my harvests, it hold my heart.”

“Nobody wants to have fun anymore. If they’re not tee-totaling, they’re cutting out sugar or fat  or cholesterol. Drives me batty. I’ve been smoking and drinking and dyeing my hair since I was twelve years old. And I could do an Oil of Olay commercial if I wanted to – that’s how good I still look.”

“The thing that gets me is how dam determined he looks. Determination is one of the virtues I’ve always envied, believe it or not.”

“I don’t think Shep will ever know how lovely it still is for me to ride in that truck with him. There is something so – oh, I don’t know – sexy about the inside of a pickup truck that a man has been working in all day. The smell of the sun and dust and Shep’s body. I guess I will always be a sucker for a man in a pickup truck. I guess that’s why I have put up with so much shit over the years. I hear the sound of that man’s voice on the telephone after a day of being apart and it still gives me goosebumps. I still have it bad for him, even though I’ve lived down the hall for so many years. There is no accounting for chemistry.”

“If I miss a sunset, my next day is never a good one. It’s one of my superstitions. If I miss a sunset, I have to consult the Ouija board. I’ve done that religiously ever since the kids left. It’s part of my schedule. That’s the reason I had so much trouble when all four of them were still at home: I couldn’t stick to my schedule.”

“I stand there next to my husband, not saying anything. When you’re married nearly forty years, you don’t always need to talk every second. I would go stark-raving nuts if I had to discuss everything, the way Sidda wants us all to do.”

“It was all so fast and furious – having them, raising them, watching them go. I thought when Baylor left: Alright now, this is when my life can begin! But it never did begin and I can’t tell you why.”

“You simply must have decent telephone manners in this world or you will get absolutely nowhere.”

“The officer is indeed a black one – young and handsome, I am ashamed to admit. But I have always loved a man in uniform.”

“I need to surrender for at least one night, for at least eight-and-a-half hours. I look like crap if I don’t get enough sleep. My eyes get all puffy and I’m cranky as hell. I need my beauty rest. I always have.”

“We haven’t made love yet, though. Not because the chemistry isn’t hot, but because Connor feels too important for me to risk blowing everything up by sleeping together. On good days, I tell myself: Hold on. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. You have all the time in the world.”

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