The Quote Quilt contest completed

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The Week 20 Winner
Week 20 winner is Ian for a quote from Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain.
This completes The Quote Quilt, a 20-week contest celebrating DDG’s 20th Anniversary, a story built entirely out of 20 consecutive quotes from 20 different books, one week at a time. Each week readers submitted quotes from favorite books building upon the prior quotes thereby extending the story. Thanks to everyone who participated, it was a lot of fun! The complete quilt is below. And here is a dramatic reading of the quilt.

The Quote Quilt
“I didn’t set out to discover a truth. I was actually sent to the Outer Fringes to conduct a chair census and learn some humility. But the truth inevitably found me, as important truths often do, like a lost thought in need of a mind.”

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

“No matter what he does, every person on Earth plays a central role in the history of the world and normally he doesn’t know it.”

“We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it!”

“Sometimes I think about how odd it would be to catch a glimpse of the future, a quick view of events lying in store for us at some undisclosed date. Suppose we could peer through a tiny peephole in Time and chance upon a flash of what was coming up in the years ahead? Some moments we saw would make no sense at all and some, I suspect, would frighten us beyond endurance.”

“And now I thought of oatmeal: in the winter, great steaming ladles of the stuff, gray, like lava dished from a volcano on the moon.”

“I am a cowardly man. I say it now, now that I have carried to its end a plan whose perilous nature no one can deny. I know its execution was terrible.”

“Seeing that before long I must confront humanity with the most difficult demand ever made of it, it seems indispensable to me to say who I am. Really, one should know it, for I have not left myself ‘without testimony.'”

“My mother is a fish.”

“Yours is a family of unusual traces,” a soothsaying neighbor once said.
“We are bred to survive,” the father answered, accidentally clipping the woman with his weed wacker, lacerating her ankles. “It is evolution — we keep what we need, we lose the rest.”

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”

“So I went to the shabby little monastic apartment where the grand piano glittered like a sneer in the midst of near-squalor and the books and papers piled on chairs and the old coffee cup with dried dregs inside… and where the friend of my youth received me as though he were not a Success and I were not a Failure, laid his hand on my shoulder, pronounced my name, looked at me from the ice-water-blue, abstract eyes which were a reproach to all uncertain, twisted, and clouded things and were as unwavering as conscience.”

“Your offer,” he said, “is far too idiotic to be declined.”

“I am often called an idiot, and at one time I certainly was so ill that I was nearly as bad as an idiot; but I am not an idiot now. How can I possibly be so when I know myself that I am considered one?”

“It was then that began our extensive travels all over the States.”

“All our family acquaintances have followed the same path: their youth spent trying to make the most of their intelligence, squeezing their studies like a lemon to make sure they’d secure a spot among the elite, then their entire lives wondering with a flabbergasted look on their faces why all that hopefulness has led to such a vain existence. People aim for the stars and they end up like goldfish in a bowl. I wonder if it wouldn’t be simpler just to teach children right from the start that life is absurd. That might deprive you of a few good moments in your childhood but it would save you a considerable amount of time as an adult — not to mention the fact that you’d be spared at least one traumatic experience, i.e. the goldfish bowl.”

“It is not unlike me that in heading toward the West I should travel east. That has always been my tendency. I was going to Deer Isle for a very good reason. My long-time friend and associate, Elizabeth Otis, has been going to Deer Isle every year. When she speaks of it, she gets an other-world look in her eyes and becomes completely inarticulate. When I planned my trip she said, “Of course you’ll stop at Deer Isle.”
“It’s out of my way.”
“Nonsense,” she said in a tone I know very well.”

“I began to wonder what it would be like. I wondered how time would have marred this unique, this holy spot–the coves and streams, the hills that the sun set behind, the camps and the paths behind the camps. I was sure that the tarred road would have found it out, and I wondered in what other ways it would be desolated. It is strange how much you can remember about places once you allow your mind to return into the grooves that lead back.”

“Perhaps I’m old and tired” he continued, ” but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.”

“I threw myself upon him, flinging my arms about his waist and dragging him shorewards with all my strength. Of course he struggled furiously, making a noise all the time just like that cursed humming, and using the most outlandish phrases in his anger about “going inside to Them,” and “taking the way of the water and the wind,” and God only knows what more besides, that I tried in vain to recall afterwards, but which turned me sick with horror and amazement as I listened. But in the end I managed to get him into the comparative safety of the tent, and flung him breathless and cursing upon the mattress where I held him until the fit had passed.”

“Where are we? What is that? Where has our dream brought us? Dusk, rain, and mud, fire reddening a murky sky that bellows incessantly with dull thunder, the damp air rent by piercing, singsong whines, and raging, onrushing, hellhound howls that end their arc in a splintering, spraying, fiery crash filled with groans and screams, with brass blaring, about to burst, and drumbeats urging onward, faster, faster. There is a wood spewing drab hordes that run, stumble, jump. There is a line of hills, dark against the distant conflagration whose glow sometimes gathers into fluttering flames. Around us is rolling farmland, gouged and battered to sludge. And there is a road covered with muck and splintered branches, much like the wood itself; branching off from the road, a country lane, a rutted quagmire, winds up the hill; tree trunks in the cold rain, naked and stripped of branches. Here is a signpost-no point in asking, the twilight would cloak its message even if it had not been riddled and ripped to jagged shreds. East or west? It is the flatlands-this is war. And we are reduced to reluctant shades by the roadside, ashamed of our own shadowy security and not in the least inclined to indulge in bombast and rodomontade; but, rather, the spirit of our story has led us here to watch these gray, running, stumbling troops as they swarm now from the woods, urged on by drums, and to gaze into the ordinary face of our companion of so many little years, that kindhearted sinner whose voice we have heard so often, to see him once more before he passes out of view.”

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