He sat down on a grassy bank and looked at the city that surrounded him, and thought, one day he would have to go home. And one day he would have to make a home to go back to. He wondered whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Even when I began my journey across the South to look into the music that helped awaken me, I wanted to hear Van Zant’s former colleagues tell me yes, he was more politically progressive than he originally got credited for. But they didn’t tell me that, because it’s not true. Those of us who have characterized the singer as a misunderstood liberal have done so only to placate our own irrational feelings of shame for responding to the passion in his music. We do the same with the violence and misogyny of hip-hop – or the drama of a Wagner symphony. When we can’t separate the artist from the art, we make the art fit our own paradigms. Rather than accepting the art for what it is, allowing ourselves to feel it without letting it threaten our sense of self, we’re dishonest in our examination of it.

Mark Kemp, Dixie Lullaby

On Middlesex, I remained in the front doorway. I took my duty seriously and didn’t budge, despite the freezing wind. Milton, the child apostate, would have been confirmed in his skepticism, because his spirit never returned that day, trying to get past me. The mulberry tree had no leaves. The wind swept over the crusted snow into my Byzantine face, which was the face of my grandfather and of the American girl I had once been. I stood at the door for an hour, maybe two. I lost track after a while, happy to be home, weeping for my father, and thinking about what was next.

Jeoffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that is oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” I’d like to show how “intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members” connects with “the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.” I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever.

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Just for a minute, she herself had forgotten to be sad. She felt guilty and hopeful both, realizing that beyond these numb days lay an opposite shore where physical pleasure might someday surprise her with its sharp touch. Where she would see colors again.

– Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer