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Category: The Granta Book of the American Short Story

Dearly maddened, we gather today in song

“The scheme of providence demands of us all that each man humbly perform his part, sing his own line in the terrestrial hymn, as the planets are singing, unheard, above us, and with charity forgive those to left and right when they falter.  That may sound pompous, simpleminded, but it’s true, or anyway I hope it’s true.  A man can go mad, discarding all tradition, reasoning out for himself the precise details of celestial and terrestrial law.” — John Gardner, “The Temptation of St. Ivo”

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I’ll have a slice of happiness, thank you, and a cup of joy on the side

“To despair was to wish back for something already lost.  Or to prolong what was already unbearable.  How much can you wish for a favorite warm coat that hangs in the closet of a house that burned down with your mother and father inside of it?  How long can you see in your mind arms and legs hanging from telephone wires and starving dogs running down the streets with half-chewed hands dangling from their jaws?  What was worse, we asked among ourselves, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces?  Or to choose our own happiness?” — Amy Tan, “The Joy Luck Club”