On Approximately Fifteen Short but Essential Quotes from A Book of Memories by Peter Nadas


In which The Gay Recluse offers approximately fifteen quotes from a modern masterpiece written in the “gay voice.”

A Book of Memories by Peter Nadas:

“[T]here’s nothing in the world with which I have a more intimate relationship than ruination.”

“If one could learn the most important things in life, one would still have to learn how to keep quiet about them.”

“‘[I]f you let a guy suck your cock, you’ll never be able to screw a woman,’ [was] a statement that needed neither comment nor explanation; it made it quite clear that everything faggy or having to do with faggots or faggotry endangered masculinity, the very thing we were striving for.”

“I know, of course, that memory mercilessly retains everything and I do admit my weakness: some things I don’t want to remember.”

“That first moment encompassed all our subsequent moments, which is to say that in all that followed something of that first moment persisted.”

“[A] truly living city is never the mere fossil of an unclarified past but a surging flow, continually abandoning the stony bed of tradition, solidifying and then flowing on, rolling over decades and centuries, from the past into the future, a continuum of hardened thrusts and ceaseless pulses unaware of its ultimate goal, yet it’s this irrepressible, insatiable vitality, often wasteful and avaricious, destructive yet creative, that we call, approvingly or disapprovingly, the inner nature or spirituality of a city’s existence.”

“[I]n the end we could choose only between the bleak and the bleaker – that was the extent of our freedom.”

“I might say, then, that while my eyes, tongue, and ears savored the pleasure of the morning’s unchanged old-fashioned order, my mind’s eye viewed its own joys, reminiscent of its childhood, from the greatest possible distance, and as it did, I suddenly grew old.”

“And you know what you can do with your morality.”

“One of his hands was grasping mine on a leather strap, and with his other hand he was holding another strap, so that his raised arms opened wide the wings of his coat, shielding our faces, our hands, the secret gestures of our forbidden love from the other passengers.”

“I wanted to kill my love for Melchoir; and the reason I couldn’t make anything last was that deep in my soul I feared the punishment which others, in their great anxiety about their own sexuality, scrawled as warnings on bathroom walls.”

“Could she imagine the condition, I shouted at her, in which an adolescent boy cannot yet distinguish between the beauty of the body and the power of its abilities?”

“[O]ne can never satisfy the animal urge to escape, since from the chaos of one’s soul there is no place to escape to.”

“Not being filled with longing, I am moved to reflect and to remember.”

“If you’re dealing with Russians, however, you can give logic a rest.”

“There’s nothing more humiliating than a chance encounter. But not giving in to it is even more humiliating.”

“[E]very whore and every faggot had a mother and a soul-searching story.”

(A more complete review of A Book of Memories can be found here.)


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