When the love of your life dies, the problem is not that some part of you dies too, which it does, but that some part of you is still alive.”

Loss isn’t an absence after all. It is a presence. A strong presence right next to me. I look at it. It doesn’t look like anything, that’s what is so strange. It just fits in.”

My father had a lifelong terror, phobia whatever, about hospitals. Makes a lot of sense in hindsight. He was so scared of doctors, he passed that on to me. That’s what parents exist for: to pass their phobias on generation to generation.”

It’s as if my footprints were already on the road before I even got there.I walk into them, my waiting footprints.”

She walked on and on as though if she walked far enough she might walk this thing out of her. As if by walking long enough, hard enough, she might forget.”

I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Nor did I feel ambitious any more. It all seemed stupid wanting to be better than the others in the same ring, shallow, pointless.”

When it rains like that, dark in the afternoon, you feel like you’ve been taken into the past.”

How bizarre, i think to myself, to be on a train and to actually not want to arrive anywhere? What kind of madness is that?”

They never tell you about that either. How the hardest thing a mother has to do is give her child up, let them go, watch them run.”
“The beautiful have so much easier a time of it than the ugly, don’t you think? They get smiled at the whole time. Strangers offer them things. People notice the beautiful; the beautiful are constantly acknowledged.”

You noticed things. You’re not sure when you start. It’s only when you’ve noticed – noticed that you know you’ve noticed. Maybe between the first time when you’re staring to think, Is this what I think it is? and the second time when you think, Yes, between those two times, there’s a silence. A pause.”

The sound of his sleep, the snores and sighs and small noices, is company.”

During this period I feel as if some part of myself has been banished to another part of the world.I feel as if I cannot live my life to the full and feel everything I’m capable of feeling unless I have this love. The pleasure goes from me; the delight goes. Nothing means anything.”

You cannot penalize a man for one slip. Then she lay wondering about the word slip. When you slip, you fall, but maybe it is not such a sore fall because you have slipped.”

Make sure that the very different colors go next to each other so it looks deliberate. You don’t want to look as if you’ve just run out of colour and gone for the next nearest thing.”

Life is too short to argue about time.”

I’ve never seen grief like it. Grief like that, it’s like an animal. She’s not eating. She’s not sleeping. She’s whimpering. She’s sluggish. She’s not herself”

Do things in your own time. Everybody should like how they choose. We never know what goes behind the blinds.”

In my head maybe it was a test of love, because there are things about illness which I find revolting.”

I’ve started to feel very odd within my own life. It’s most peculiar to feel lonely inside your own life.”

We’re not alive to be alone on the planet. We’re alive to share, to eat together and love together and laugh together and cry together. If you can never love because you will always lose, what reason is there to live?”

What a thing it is to have music that plays your terrible thoughts. I imagined that one piece could drive more delicate women than myself to insanity.”



“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.”
“There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.”
“As a writer, I’m more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.”
“You need to remember that. If you’re to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.”
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
“You have to accept that sometimes that’s how things happen in this world. People’s opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.”
“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
“One is not struck by the truth until prompted quite accidentally by some external event.”
“When you are young, there are many things which appear dull and lifeless. But as you get older, you will find these are the very things that are most important to you.”
“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.”
“Sometimes I get so immersed in my own company, if I unexpectedly run into someone I know, it’s a bit of a shock and takes me a while to adjust.”
“What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
“It was like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you’ve made, and there’s this panic because you don’t know yet the scale of disaster you’ve left yourself open to.”
“She might be a great person, but life’s so much bigger than just loving someone.”
“Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.”
“I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?”
“An artist’s concern is to capture beauty wherever he finds it.”
“It had never occurred to me that our lives, which had been so closely interwoven, could unravel with such speed.”
“We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
“The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way.”
“Memory is quite central for me. Part of it is that I like the actual texture of writing through memory.”
“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”


Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
“Human cruelty can be infinite. Human generosity can be boundless.”
“A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.”
“I believe there is another world waiting for us. A better world. And I’ll be waiting for you there.”
“Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.”
“People are icebergs, with just a bit you can see and loads you can’t.”
“Books don’t offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw.”
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.”
“We looked at each other for the last time; nothing is as eloquent as nothing.”
“By each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
“Truth is singular. Its ‘versions’ are mistrusts.”
“The weak are meat the strong do eat.”
“A book you finish reading is not the same book it was before you read it.”
“We are only what we know, and I wished to be so much more than I was, sorely.”
“Anticipating the end of the world is humanity’s oldest passtime.”
“You say you’re ‘depressed’ – all i see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.”
“History admits no rules; only outcomes.”
“Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears.”
“In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.”
“The healthy can’t understand the emptied, the broken.”
“Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty.”
“Memories are their own descendants masquerading as the ancestors of the present.”
“Trees are always a relief, after people.”
“Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the theory of relativity and principals of uncertainty. Phenomena that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction.”
“Faith, the least exclusive club on Earth, has the craftiest doorman. Every time I’ve stepped through its wide-open doorway, I find myself stepping out on the street again.”
“The truth of a myth…is not in its words but its patterns.”
“She was widely read enough to appreciate my literary wit but not so widely read that she knew my sources. I like that in a woman.”
“One fine day a predatory world shall consume itself.”
“Lying’s wrong, but when the world spins backwards, a small wrong may be a big right.”
“The better organized the state, the duller its humanity.”
“Whoever opined “Money can’t buy you happiness” obviously had far too much of the stuff.”
“We live on, as long as there are people to live on in.”
“Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Dreams are beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk awhile with the still are.”


  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


Only in art will the lion lie down with the lamb, and the rose grow without thorn.

Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions.

Money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength. It’s a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy.

Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.

You cannot combine being a movie star with not being a movie star.

I hire tea by the tea bag.

Weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough.

If God existed, and if He cared for humankind, He would never have given us religion.

Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.


I keep losing and regaining my equilibrium, which is the basic plot of all popular fiction. And I myself am a work of fiction.” —Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 1974 (and the dedication to And So It Goes, 2011)

I apologize because of the terrible mess the planet is in. But it has always been a mess. There have never been any ‘Good Old Days,’ there have just been days. And as I say to my grandchildren, ‘Don’t look at me. I just got here myself.’” — Syracuse University Commencement speech, 1994

I had a friend who was a heavy drinker. If somebody asked him if he’d been drunk the night before, he would always answer offhandedly, ‘Oh, I imagine.’ I’ve always liked that answer. It acknowledges life as a dream.” — The Paris Review, 1977

All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.” — The epigram of Timequake, 1997

I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ ever since, and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.” — Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, 1974

I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.” — as quoted in The Observer, 1987

Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible, and The Charge of the Light Brigade…” — “Cold Turkey, In These Times, 2004

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.” — “Cold Turkey, In These Times, 2004

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” — A Man Without a Country, 2005

I don’t know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.’” — A Man Without a Country, 2005

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” — A Man Without a Country, 2005

If you make people laugh or cry about little black marks on sheets of white paper, what is that but a practical joke? All the great story lines are great practical jokes that people fall for over and over again.” — The Paris Review, 1977

We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.” — A Man Without a Country, 2005

Jokes can be noble. Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward — and since I can start thinking and striving again that much sooner.” — “Palm Sunday”, a sermon delivered at St. Clement’s Church, New York City, originally published in The Nation as “Hypocrites You Always Have With You”

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” — the introduction to Mother Night, 1961

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” — “Knowing What’s Nice,” In These Times, 2003

I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can’t help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.” — interview on the Daily Show, 2005

Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization.” — Backwards City Review, 2004

I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.” — The Paris Review, 1977

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” — quoted in “Kurt Vonnegut: In His Own Words,” London Times Online, 2007


Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Even castles in the sky can do with a fresh coat of paint.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, South of the Border, West of the Sun

The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

When I start to write, I don’t have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come. I don’t choose what kind of story it is or what’s going to happen. I just wait.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Paris Review, summer 2004

Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Dance Dance Dance

Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they’re also what tear you apart.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Sputnik Sweetheart

Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.


If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.


I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Paris Review, summer 2004

If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

In the world we live in, what we know and what we don’t know are like Siamese twins, inseparable, existing in a state of confusion.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Sputnik Sweetheart

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Sputnik Sweeheart

Life is not like water. Things in life don’t necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.


There’s no such thing as perfect writing just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.

HURAKI MURAKAMI, Hear the Wind Sing

I myself, as I’m writing, don’t know who did it. The readers and I are on the same ground. When I start to write a story, I don’t know the conclusion at all and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If there is a murder case as the first thing, I don’t know who the killer is. I write the book because I would like to find out. If I know who the killer is, there’s no purpose to writing the story.

HURAKI MURAKAMI, Paris Review, summer 2004

Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Sputnik Sweetheart

Every time I try to say something, it misses the point. Either that or I end up saying the opposite of what I mean. The more I try to get it right the more mixed up it gets. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was trying to say in the first place. It’s like my body’s split in two and one of me is chasing the other me around a big pillar. We’re running circles around it. The other me has the right words, but I can never catch her.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Only the Dead stay seventeen forever.


Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

It’s hard to tell the difference between sea and sky, between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

Money had no name of course. And if it did have a name, it would no longer be money. What gave money its true meaning was its dark-night namelessness, its breathtaking interchangeability.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

There are ways of dying that don’t end in funerals. Types of death you can’t smell.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

The light of morning decomposes everything.


Mediocrity’s like a spot on a shirt—it never comes off.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Dance Dance Dance

To know one’s own state is not a simple matter. One cannot look directly at one’s own face with one’s own eyes, for example. One has no choice but to look at one’s reflection in the mirror. Through experience, we come to believe that the image is correct, but that is all.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

Waste is the highest virtue one can achieve in advanced capitalist society.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Dance, Dance, Dance

Spring as concept raged in upon us, a somber tide of longing. Its advent roused the passions of those nameless multitudes fallen between the cracks of the city, sweeping them noiselessly toward the quicksands of futility.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Dance, Dance, Dance

Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.

HURAKI MURAKAMI, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Kafka on the Shore

No matter what they wish for, no matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves.

HARUKI MURAKAMI, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman