Expressing Thoughts in Fiction

Selections from Published Works

Compiled by Alan Carl Nicoll; copyright protection per the originals.

Ernest Hemingway
not quoted below

Stephen King, Cujo, p. 9: “He bent to his picture again.
“She stood looking at him, troubled, a little frightened. He was a bright boy, and perhaps too imaginative. This was not such good news. She would have to talk to Vic about it tonight. She would have to have a long talk with him about it.”

Isaac Asimov, Foundation, p. 26: “Gall looked up. He felt disheveled and wilted. So much had happened, yet he had been on Trantor not more than thirty hours.”

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove, p. 189: “Newt’s mind had begun to dwell on the north for long stretches. Particularly at night, when he had nothing to do but ride slowly around and around the herd, listening to the small noises the bedded cattle made, or the sad singing of the Irishman, he thought of the north, trying to imagine what it must be like.”

Ian McEwan, Atonement, p. 62: “Feeling the black-furred creature begin to stir, Emily let her thoughts move away from her eldest daughter and sent the tendrils of a worrying disposition out toward her youngest. Poor darling Briony, the softest little thing, doing her all to entertain her hardbitten wiry cousins with the play she had written from her heart. To love her was to be soothed. But how to protect her against failure, against that Lola, the incarnation of Emily’s youngest sister who had been just as precocious and scheming at that age, and who had recently plotted her way out of a marriage, into what she wanted everyone to call a nervous breakdown.”

Irving Stone, The Agony & the Ecstasy, p. 215: “He turned away; he’d wait until another night. Then, facing the corner of the whitewashed walls, he stopped. By the next morning this lad would be buried under four feet of earth in the Santo Spirot cemetery. He touched the boy, found him as cold as winter; beautiful, but as dead as all the others.”

Anthony Doerr, “The Caretaker,” p. 140: “For Joseph it is as if some portal from his nightmares has opened and the horrors crouched there, breathing at the door, have come galloping through. On the half-mile trail back to Ocean Meadows, he falters in his step and has to kneel, his body quaking, the ragged clouds coursing overhead. Tears poured from his eyes. His flight had been futile; everything remains unburied, floating just at the surface, a breeze away from being dredged back up. And why? Save yourself, the neighbors had told him. Save yourself. Joseph wonders if he is beyond saving, if the only kind of man who can be saved is the man who never needed saving in the first place.”

Chris Bohjalian, The Buffalo Soldier, p. 166: “She decided he looked cute in his uniform, a bit like a little boy playing dress-up. She understood the handgun was real, but his badge and his boots and those pants—spinach green with yellow piping up the side—struck her as the sort of thing a toy store might sell to a ten-year-old who wanted to masquerade as a soldier. Even his necktie was green, and she wondered if there was any…”

Michael Cunningham, The Hours, p. 3: “She hurries from the house, wearing a coat too heavy for the weather. It is 1941. Another war has begun. She has left a note for Leonard, and another for Vanessa. She walks purposefully toward the river, certain of what she’ll do, but even now she is almost distracted by the sight of the downs, the church, and a scattering of sheep, incandescent, tinged with a faint hint of sulfur, grazing under a darkening sky. She pauses, watching the sheep and the sky, then walks on. The voices murmur behind her; bombers drone in the sky, though she looks for the planes and can’t see them. She walks past one of the farm workers (is his name John?), a robust, small-headed man wearing a potato-colored vest, cleaning the ditch that runs through the osier bed. He looks up at her, nods, looks down again into the brown water. As she passes him on her way to the river she thinks of how successful he is, how fortunate…”

Raymond Carver, “Neighbors,” p. 87: “Bill took a deep breath as he entered the Stones’ apartment. The air was already heavy and it was vaguely sweet. The sunburst clock over the television said half past eight. He remembered when Harriet had come home with the clock, how she had crossed the hall to show it to Arlene, cradling the brass case in her arms and talking to it through the tissue paper as if it were an infant.”

Heinrich Boll, “Trapped in Paris,” p. 53: “Once the peril and the compassion that provided the driving force behind this brief scene had faded, they were overcome by embarrassment. Reinhard mopped his perspiration-soaked brow and took a deep puff of his still-burning cigarette. He still believed he was half dreaming, for eternity had descended upon him, compressed into minutes. With a helpless smile he asked sadly, ‘What now?’ It couldn’t have been more than five minutes since he was standing by the car, dreaming of peace, lost in the tranquility of the afternoon. And now he was standing helpless and destitute in this dim, cool hallway beside a woman he didn’t know, astonished by her rare beauty, in misery—drowned in deepest misery…”

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