“Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.” Dan Brown, Angels & Demons.

“The blood is still rolling off my flak jacket from the hole in my shoulder and there are bullets cracking into the sand all around me.” Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July.

“In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.” Patrick Suskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

“By the time Edwin Rist stepped off the train onto the platform at Tring, forty miles north of London, it was already quite late.” Kirk Wallace Johnson, The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century.

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

“Elizabeth Anne Holmes knew she wanted to be a successful entrepreneur from a young age.” John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secret and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.

“Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument.” Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife.

“A free society can exist only when public spirit is balanced by an equal inclination of men to mind their own business.” Edward A. Shils, The Torment of Secrecy: The Background and Consequences of American Security Policies.

“When you work in the glove department at Neiman’s, you are selling things that nobody buys anymore.” Steve Martin, Shopgirl.

“On a humid Monday night in the summer of 1965, after finding an eight-dollar hotel room in the then economically friendly city of San Francisco, I lugged my banjo and black, hard-shell prop case ten sweaty blocks uphill to the Coffee and Confusion, where I had signed up to play for free.” Steve Martin, Born Standing Up.

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God.” John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany.

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