Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.

Alice Walker, “Only Justice Can Stop a Curse”

In an average life lived by a relatively average soul, what else remains but singular moments of astonishingly framed light?

David Means, “Vows”

Martha Gellhorn

For months–it seemed forever–Hitler had been shrieking about the misery of the ethnic Germans in what he called the Sudetenland, the fortified western frontier zone of Czechoslovakia, a bulge surrounded by Nazi Germany. The cruel Czechs were brutalizing the poor ethnic Germans and it was Hitler’s sacred duty to rescue his people. (The Big Lie, always delivered in a prolonged scream, was a winning Hitlerian tactic, usefully adapted by all kinds of governments ever since.) Instead of honoring a military pact and lining up behind the invaluable Czech democracy, Chamberlain and Daladier went, as suppliants, to meet Hitler in Munich on September 29, 1938 and gave him the Sudetenland, in return for a piece of paper. “Peace in our time.” It lasted less than a year. The moral of that moment in history has lasted for me permanently: never believe governments, not any of them, not a word they say; keep an untrusting eye on what they do.

~A Stricken Field (reprint afterword)

Only a man can see in the face of a woman the girl she was. It is a secret which can be revealed only to a particular man and, then, only at his insistence.

~James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk