10 Selections from Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life

I’ve been mentioning Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life quite a bit, so I thought I’d provide a, hopefully, spoiler-free taste.

  1. “The world has two kinds of people… Those who are inclined to believe, and those who aren’t. In my courtroom, we value belief. Belief in all things.”
  2. “He was practical; he knew that making a career as a lawyer meant sacrifices, either of money or of moralities, but it still troubled him, this forsaking of what he knew to be just. And for what? So he could insure he wouldn’t become that old man, lonely and sick? It seemed the worst kind of selfishness, the worst kind of self-indulgence, to disavow what he knew was right simply because he was frightened, because he was scared of being uncomfortable and miserable.”
  3. “The axiom of equality states that x always equals x: it assumes that if you have a conceptual thing named x, that it must always be equivalent to itself, that it has a uniqueness about it, that it is in possession of something so irreducible that we must assume it is absolutely, unchangeably equivalent to itself for all time, that its very elementalness can never be altered.”
  4. “If I were a different kind of person, I might say that this whole incident is a metaphor for life in general: things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
  5. “Wasn’t it a miracle to have survived the unsurvivable? Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?”
  6. “But although he hadn’t been convinced, it was somehow sustaining that someone else had seen him as a worthwhile person, that someone had seen his as a meaningful life.”
  7. “And he cries and cries, cries for everything he has been, for everything he might have been.”
  8. “He experienced the singular pleasure of watching people he loved fall in love with other people he loved.”
  9. “Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.”
  10. “You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will:  the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”