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Geraldine Brooks Quotes

Sydney in the 1960s wasn’t the exuberant multicultural metropolis it is today. Out in the city’s western reaches, days passed in a sun-struck stupor. In the evenings, families gathered on their verandas waiting for the ‘southerly buster’ – the thunderstorm that would break the heat and leave the air cool enough to allow sleep.
Geraldine Brooks
Cool, Today, Enough

The thing that most attracts me to historical fiction is taking the factual record as far as it is known, using that as scaffolding, and then letting imagination build the structure that fills in those things we can never find out for sure.
Geraldine Brooks
Far, Sure, Known

September 11, 2001, revealed heroism in ordinary people who might have gone through their lives never called upon to demonstrate the extent of their courage.
Geraldine Brooks
Courage, Lives, Might

I think that you can honour the sacrifices of a common soldier without glorifying war.
Geraldine Brooks
War, Common, Soldier

Men can absent themselves from real life for their art more easily. Women are anchored into the quotidian business of getting food on the table, making sure everybody’s socks match, the soccer gear is ready. I admire idealists, but they’re usually enabled by someone who holds the tether on their balloon, who pays the bills and sweeps up after them.
Geraldine Brooks
Life, Art, Business

If somebody from the past doesn’t rise up from the grave and start talking to me, I haven’t got a book. I have to hear that voice, the voice of the narrator. How she sounds will tell me who she is, and who she is will tell me how she will act – and that starts the plot in motion.
Geraldine Brooks
Tell, Past, Book

I was really interested in how marriages work, how you can, you know, be in love with somebody and spend many years with your lives intertwined, but in the end another soul can be fundamentally unknowable. And I think that the stress of war, when one party goes away and the other has to deal at home, is a really testing time in a lot of marriages.
Geraldine Brooks
Love, Time, Work

There are always a few who stand up in times of communal madness and have the courage to say that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
Geraldine Brooks
Courage, Times, Few

We are not the only animal that mourns; apes do, and elephants, and dogs. Yet we are the only one that tortures.
Geraldine Brooks
Animal, Dogs, Ape

My mother’s family were full-on Irish Catholics – faith in an elaborate old fashioned, highly conservative and madly baroque style. I sort of fell out of the tribe over women’s rights and social justice issues when I was just 13 years old.
Geraldine Brooks
Faith, Family, Women

When I write a word in English, a simple one, such as, say, ‘chief,’ I have unwittingly ushered a querulous horde into the room. The Roman legionary is there, shaking his cap, or head, and Andy Capp is there, slouching in his signature working man’s headgear.
Geraldine Brooks
Working, Simple, Word

Even the classics that we read to our young children are full of wolves’ fangs and burning ovens and bloody feet and ice shards piercing hearts. Even the New Testament climaxes with an act of unspeakable torture. Might as well just read to our kids from the Amnesty Annual Report and be done with it.
Geraldine Brooks
Children, Young, Read

For most people, chemotherapy is no longer the chamber of horrors we often conceive it to be. Yes, it is an ordeal for some people, but it wasn’t for me, nor for most of the patients I got to know during my four months of periodic visits to the chemo suite.
Geraldine Brooks
Often, Nor, Longer

I had been afraid of breast cancer, as I suspect most women are, from the time I hit adolescence. At that age, when our emerging sexuality is our central preoccupation, the idea of disfigurement of a breast is particularly horrifying.
Geraldine Brooks
Time, Age, Women

I think I’m still chewing on my years as a foreign correspondent. I found myself covering catastrophes – war, uprising, famine, refugee crises – and witnessing how people were affected by dire situations. When I find a story from the past, I bring some of those lessons to bear on the narrative.
Geraldine Brooks
War, Past, Story

I’m a praying atheist. When I hear an ambulance siren, I ask for a blessing for those people in trouble, knowing that no one’s listening. I think it’s just a habit of mindfulness.
Geraldine Brooks
Ask, Trouble, Knowing

When you’re writing non-fiction, you go as far as you can go, and then ethically you have to stop. You can’t go. You can’t suppose. You can’t imagine. And I think there’s something in human nature that wants to finish the story.
Geraldine Brooks
Nature, Far, Story

It is my great good luck the words I use are English words, which means I live in a very old nation of open borders; a rich, deep, multi-layered, promiscuous universe, infused with Latin, German, French, Greek, Arabic and countless other tongues.
Geraldine Brooks
Good, Great, Old

Yes, it seems we’ve got this mutant gene in our human personality that makes us susceptible to this same kind of mistake over and over again. It’s really uncanny how we build these beautiful multicultural edifices and then allow this switch to be flipped and everybody goes, ‘Oh, the other, get them out of here.’
Geraldine Brooks
Beautiful, Makes, Here

Moral certainty can deafen people to any truth other than their own.
Geraldine Brooks
Truth, Moral, Certainty

Both my parents loved words. That was the big deal in our house.
Geraldine Brooks
Parents, Words, Both

Jewish prayers are mostly about daily things – the sliver of a new moon, dew on the grass, the bread and the wine.
Geraldine Brooks
Daily, Wine, Moon

The Sarajevans have a very particular world view – a mordant wit coupled with this unbearable sadness and… truckloads of guts, you know.
Geraldine Brooks
Sadness, View, Particular

Certainly I’m still mining my experiences as a journalist. I think it’s no coincidence that all three of my novels basically are about how people act in a time of catastrophe. Do they go to their best self or their worst self?
Geraldine Brooks
Time, Best, Three

I can always write. Sometimes, to be sure, what I write is crap, but it’s words on the page and therefore it is something to work with.
Geraldine Brooks
Work, Words, Sure

The day in 2004 when the radiologist told me I had invasive cancer, I walked down the hospital corridor looking for a phone to call my husband, and I could almost see the fear coming toward me like a big, black shadow.
Geraldine Brooks
Fear, Husband, Black

The dirty little secret of foreign correspondents is that 90 per cent of it is showing up. If you can find a way to get there, the story, the reporting, it’s the easiest you’ll ever do. ‘Cause the drama’s everywhere.
Geraldine Brooks
Story, Secret, Cause

There’s just so many great stories in the past that you can know a little bit about, but you can’t know it all, and that’s where imagination can work.
Geraldine Brooks
Work, Great, Past

While I love to read contemporary fiction, I’m not drawn to writing it. Perhaps it’s because the former journalist in me is too inhibited by the press of reality; when I think about writing of my own time I always think about nonfiction narratives. Or perhaps it’s just that I find the present too confounding.
Geraldine Brooks
Love, Time, While

Writing is like bricklaying; you put down one word after another. Sometimes the wall goes up straight and true and sometimes it doesn’t and you have to push it down and start again, but you don’t stop; it’s your trade.
Geraldine Brooks
True, Another, Again

Yes, the small village that we live in, in Virginia, is a very interesting place, in terms of its Civil War history, because it was a town that was founded by Quakers in 1733.
Geraldine Brooks
War, History, Small

You can’t write about the past and ignore religion. It was such a fundamental, mind-shaping, driving force for pre-modern societies. I’m very interested in what religion does to us – its capacity to create love and empathy or hatred and violence.
Geraldine Brooks
Love, Religion, Past

My sentences tend to be very short and rather spare. I’m more your paragraph kind of gal.
Geraldine Brooks
Rather, Short, Tend

And one of the things that I learned was you can’t generalise at all about a woman in a veil. You can’t think you know her story, because she will confound you over and over again. She may be an engineer or a diplomat or a doctor. Or she may be an unbelievable babe with bleached hair down to her waist.
Geraldine Brooks
Woman, Again, Learned

‘You’ve got mail!’ exclaims the cheery automaton at America Online. The flag on the mailbox icon waves invitingly on my computer screen. For a second, I’m 10 years old again, waiting for the postman’s whistle to slice the stillness of an Australian afternoon.
Geraldine Brooks
Old, Waiting, America

I do believe that our modern English usage has become way too clipped and austere. I have been reading excerpts from the journals of 18th-century seafarers lately, and even the lowliest press-ganged deck-swabber turns a finer phrase than I do most days.
Geraldine Brooks
Days, Reading, English

I think probably the scaredest I’ve ever been was in Somalia. I arrived there when the episode that became known as ‘Black Hawk Down’ was still taking place. The Americans were still pinned down under fire. And everybody else was basically going the other way, and I was the only one putting my hand up for a flight in.
Geraldine Brooks
Black, Everybody, Fire

And when I’d be reporting in Israel, Palestinians would say, the Jews they’re not like us, and the Jews would say the same things about the Palestinians, they don’t want what we want. And I never bought it as a reporter and I don’t buy it as a novelist. I think, you know, the sound of somebody crying for their lost child sounds the same.
Geraldine Brooks
Lost, Child, Somebody

Because I worked as a newspaper reporter for about 14 years before attempting my first novel, I learned to write under almost any circumstances- by candle light, in longhand, in African villages where there was no power, under shelling in Kurdistan.
Geraldine Brooks
Power, Learned, Light

Both my mum and dad were great readers, and we would go every Saturday morning to the library, and my sister and I had a library card when we could pass off something as a signature, and all of us would come with an armful of books.
Geraldine Brooks
Great, Morning, Dad

I had this story that had been banging around in my head and I thought, ‘I’ll just see if there’s anything there.’ So I wrote a few chapters of the book that became ‘Year of Wonders,’ and lucky for me it found its readers.
Geraldine Brooks
Book, Few, Year

I knew I was going to be a journalist when I was eight years old and I saw the printing presses rolling at the Sydney newspaper where my dad worked as a proofreader.
Geraldine Brooks
Dad, Old, Knew

I loved being away from school. I didn’t really fancy school that much when I was little; it wasn’t until I was in third or fourth grade that I really settled down at school and I was much happier at home with my mum and she was very creative and sort of fostered all my interests.
Geraldine Brooks
Home, Away, Until

I mean the beauty of being a writer is it’s not like being a swimmer. When they were talking about our Olympic swimmers and they’d say, ‘Oh she’s so old,’ and she’s all of 25 or something. So the beauty for a writer is that you can keep doing it right into your dotage, and I hope to be able to keep doing it as long as I can get away with it, yeah.
Geraldine Brooks
Beauty, Hope, Old

If screenwriters have to kill off a female character, they love to give her cancer. We’ve seen so many great actresses go down to the Big C: Ali MacGraw, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Debra Winger, Susan Sarandon.
Geraldine Brooks
Love, Great, Character

The structure of ‘March’ was laid down for me before the first line was written, because my character has to exist within Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ plotline.
Geraldine Brooks
Women, Character, Within

I swim in a sea of words. They flow around me and through me and, by a process that is not fully clear to me, some delicate hidden membrane draws forth the stuff that is the necessary condition of my life.
Geraldine Brooks
Life, Words, Stuff

I was a news reporter for 16 years, seven of them a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Perhaps the most useful equipment I acquired in that time is a lack of preciousness about the act of writing. A reporter must write. There must be a story. The mot juste unarriving? Tell that to your desk.
Geraldine Brooks
Time, Tell, Act

I was a pretty delicate kid. Anything that was going around I’d get it and I’d generally get it much worse than other people, so I spent a lot of time out of school.
Geraldine Brooks
Time, Pretty, Kid

I was so shy. I used to cross the street so I wouldn’t even have to talk to my relatives, much less strangers. That’s not shy, that’s wise. But I found that that when you had a journalist’s notebook in your hand it wasn’t really you, you see.
Geraldine Brooks
Wise, Used, Talk

I write while my son is at school. At about 7:45 A.M., I walk him there, with the dogs, then walk them for another forty minutes or so, go home and chain myself to the desk a little before 9 A.M., and try not to be distracted until I hear my son plunge through the front door at about 3 P.M.
Geraldine Brooks
Home, Another, While

I’d gotten myself into a kind of journalism that wasn’t really compatible with rearing an infant. I’d been a foreign correspondent for a long time and had this subspecialty in covering catastrophes. It had spoiled me a little because you have a tremendous amount of autonomy, and I couldn’t really see being an editor in an office.
Geraldine Brooks
Time, Office, Amount

I’m very, very leery of nonfiction books where they change timeframes and use – what do they call those things? – composite characters. I don’t think that’s right.
Geraldine Brooks
Change, Call, Books

If you look at an illuminated manuscript, even today, it just blows your mind. For them, without all the clutter and inputs that we have, it must have been even more extraordinary.
Geraldine Brooks
Today, Mind, Blows

One thing I believe completely is that the human heart remains the human heart, no matter how our material circumstances change as we move together through time.
Geraldine Brooks
Change, Time, Heart

So, you know, Nathaniel was my first child, born when I was 40, so, uh… And then in due course, he wanted a brother, and then I thought, ‘Oh, that’ll be bloody lucky!’ So, we ended up adopting a beautiful boy who was then five years old, from Ethiopia.
Geraldine Brooks
Beautiful, Old, Child

Sometimes I want to have a mental book burning that would scour my mind clean of all the filthy visions literature has conjured there. But how to do without ‘The Illiad?’ How to do without ‘Macbeth?’
Geraldine Brooks
Mind, Book, Literature

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