Did you ever have a bite of food that was so delicious you didn’t want to swallow it? You just wanted to let it linger in your mouth and never end?
That’s how I felt about Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty.
It’s brilliant. Delicious. Savory.
It’s also funny, so sad, and insightful. And it may have the best analogies / metaphors I’ve ever read.
Which is why I have a lot of favorite quotes for this whimsical, modern-day novel.
At first I thought I wouldn’t mark anything because there were just too many good lines and passages. But then I couldn’t stop myself.
So here are quotes, many of them full passages, I love from Gravity Is the Thing. But you should really read the whole thing yourself to soak up all that deliciousness!
“Well, sure, truth is like a bright light at a window, but truth is also hands on your chest shoving you backward, and truth is your esophagus burned beyond repair.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“Even my father makes fun of me for living here, and old school friends joke: ‘It’s so nice over here, everyone’s so pretty! And they’re all exactly the same.’ There’s diversity here, but it’s concealed behind uniforms. There are broken people here, but they’re pinned together with therapy, Botox, hair dye, and designer clothes, rage pegged down with hot stone massages, soothed by high-functioning alcoholism.
“Across the Harbour Bridge, beyond the tourist district and the central business district, the diversity, especially in the inner west, is flamboyant and proud. There is wealth there, too, but it’s cooler, hipper, more working class somehow. The broken people there are scarred and pockmarked with dirty teeth, their cracks open, deep fissures showing, their dependencies visceral. They’ll shout at you from parks littered with broken bottles and graffiti, or they’ll sell you crystals.
“… Here I am, I thought—as I always think when I walk the streets of Newtown, elation rushing at me, along with the sensory cacophony of crowds, pubs, restaurants, secondhand bookshops, traffic jams, horns, buskers, the anger open, the loss visceral. Here I am, at last, in the world.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty, emphasis mine
“For example: miniature hot-air balloons dangled from the ceiling. A fan spun slowly so that the balloons tipped and swayed. You could imagine their occupants shrieking in alarm, the balloon pilots sweating and grabbing at ropes.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“I used to hear people complaining about the questions children asked, all their whys. And I thought: So easy! Just answer! What’s the issue, you strange, complaining parents?
“That’s what I thought.
“Now I want to claw out my eyes sometimes, at the questions, the days and days of questions. Life is a constant pop quiz, and I’m always failing. The cognitive dissonance, the limits of my knowledge, the exposure of those limits when the four-year-old demands answers in a lift, say, a quiet, crowded lift, everyone waiting, with interest, for my reply. To be left with I don’t know, to slip listlessly into I’m not sure. — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“‘Kierkegaard thinks that music begins where language ends,’ Finnegan said. ‘Beyond language—or when language reaches its peak—you get music.’
“I considered that. ‘I can’t believe we’re talking about Kierkegaard,’ I said.
“‘You’re not. I am. And the same is true if you go in the other direction,’ he said. ‘Because the simpler words become, the more they’re just sounds, and sounds are music.’
“‘So music is like parentheses around language?’
“‘Exactly. Or music is everything. This small segment of everything is language. Our conversation. Everything outside it is music.’
“I sat beside Finnegan in our small segment of language while everything else was music.
“‘I like that,’ I admitted. — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“We watched Forrest Gump. His mother had given him the video for Christmas the previous year, he said, and he hadn’t yet watched it.
“‘Life is like a box of chocolates,’ Finnegan announced, when the movie finished.
“‘It’s not,’ I said.
“‘It’s not,’ he conceded at once.
“I elaborated. ‘With a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’ll get, but you can be pretty sure it’s going to be chocolate.’
“‘And no, say, a scorpion.’
“‘Exactly. Whereas you reach your hand into life and you can pull out a boiled egg, a scorpion, or a parking ticket.‘” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“Then he said, ‘Actually, I think you did exactly the right thing.’
“‘Now you’re shutting me down!’ I said. ‘But okay. How?’
“‘Here’s how. You were yourself. You didn’t let Robert score more goals than you. You didn’t let him wallow. If you’d been somebody other than you, that would have been wrong. You did the right thing and a wrong thing happened. The two are unrelated.'” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“Hope is like a giant soap bubble, and you roll around inside it smiling while it deflates, slowly, cruelly, until you’re walking around with this sticky consistency, wrapped across your flesh.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“This is a scenario you often see with sad men, I think: the rescue women. Whereas a sad woman who sits alone unshaven in her garbage, fungus in her toenails, will almost certainly remain un-rescued. A sweet young ingenue with giant teary eyes might be the exception, but even then it will depend on the extent and nature of garbage, and just how hirsute she has become.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“Outside, the snow looked creamy to me. It looked like frosting, too, of course: thick, generous frosting on a wedding cake. Although, in some places, it was rumpled and dry, like crumbled masked potato.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
Discussing her deep dive into self-help books…
“I read about feng shui online: Don’t clutter the space aroudn your doorway because the chi will be distracted and not enter.
“Also: Do not have a flight of steps at your front door or the chi will head directly up the stairs, forgetting the ground floor.
“It occurred to me that chi might share some characteristics with the universe: all-knowing, all-wise, all-magical, yet also a bit daft.
“If you have a room in your house that you don’t use very much, you should put a living thing in there.
“What, I thought, like a child? An old person you don’t have much use for anymore?
“But the writer went on to explain that it could be a potted plant or a clock. With great respect to the internet, a clock is not in fact a living thing.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“One thing I’ve noticed is that romantic relationships are like life.”
My summary: You’re an adorable baby and everyone goes on about you. Then you grow and people stop noticing you, “many failing even to register your presence in the room.
“The same is true with relationships. A person meets you and is enchanged, finding you miraculous, and then, over several dates, falls in love with you, finding you cuter and cuter: a darling! Over time, however, he/she begins to accept your presence, even to purse lips in preemptive disapproval, to scold you for being your own peculiar self. Sometimes he/she fails to register your presence in a room.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“Mum said: ‘You’d better write a letter of apology.’
“‘How will she read it,’ I said, ‘if she can’t use her eyes?’
“‘And what with all her suffering,’ Mum added. ‘Divorce, you know. It’s hard.’
“We both laughed. You can be pretty mean from inside your own tragedy.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
The conversations between Abigail and her young son, Oscar, are simply the best. Here’s an example:
“‘Socrates strikes me as insufferable,’ I told Oscar, who agreed with a quick, sharp nod.
“‘Whereas you, I love so, so much,’ I continued.
“‘Yes, and I love my birthday,’ he said. ‘I love turning five.’ So we enjoyed musing on what hemight get for his birthday: a pirate sword, a pirate knife, a pirate ship. After that we discussed his imaginary friend, Jessie, and her birthday party.
“‘What will I go as?’ he wondered, before answering his own question: ‘As Santa Claus.’
“‘Makes sense. What about me?’
“‘What are those things on reindeers’ heads?’ he asked.
“‘Yes, you can go as antlers.'” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“‘What is it that stops us flying?‘ he read.
“‘Gravity. Antony said promptly.
“‘Gravity, right,’ Wilbur agreed. ‘Not just Isaac Newton’s gravity, but being too grave, too serious. Being weighed down by science, trapped by solemnity. Fear of authority—'” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
Part 11, Section 21. The whole thing. But I’ll just quote a bit. You’ll have to read the rest on your own. Which you can do right here.
“Every word has consequences. Every silence, too. Jean-Paul Sartre said that.
“I’ll tell you about silence; breathing sneering silence; the lethargy of the telephone, the way it watches you, heavy-lidded.
“It follows you around the house, just behind you, a reprimand, reproof. You do this, and this, and nobody knows what you are doing, the silence accumulating around each thing. It pours in like concrete, getting heavier.
“…Silence before the key turns, or the door knocker sounds…
“The silence of an early morning, and the hope in it, before sounds step in, tentative.
“…There is something smug about silence, or sad and pale and wistful, something lazy about it. Implacable, like death. But silence is the possibility of noise. Death is ear-splitting, it’s shattering with absence; over time, it’s quieter.” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
“‘And when my marriage broke up, I’d lost the love of my life. If he’d died, people would have been coming around, sharing memories and bringing casseroles, but he’d had an affair, so I wasn’t allowed to be fond and misty about him. If I was, I wasn’t confronting the truth. And I wasn’t allowed to be angry. That was being bitter. And I wasn’t allowed to miss him, because I’d never actually had him, and…’
“‘…My point is, you should grieve the way you want.'” — Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
I hope you loved these quotes about life and love and parenthood as much as I did. I didn’t quote all of the passages I marked. There were too many! And some of them were personal or too long or need a whole blog post to analyze!
Jaclyn Moriarty blew my mind with her brilliant metaphors and deep dive into the way life works and what we really think and feel about it.
This is one of my favorite books of the year so far, and may end up being my favorite!
Let me know if you’ve read Gravity Is the Thing or are planning to!
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