Barbara A. Edelman, Writer
New Paltz, New York

From Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

    There were no friends of mine there, but I knew about a third of the party, and talked away civilly enough. An elderly woman said to me, “So you’re Charles. I feel I know you through and through, Celia’s talked so much about you.”
    Through and through, I thought. Through and through is a long way, madam. Can you indeed see into those dark places where my own eyes seek in vain to guide me? Can you tell me, dear Mrs. Stuyvesant Oglander—if I am correct in thinking that is how I heard my wife speak of you—why it is that at this moment, while I talk to you here, about my forthcoming exhibition, I am thinking all the time only of when Julia will come? Why can I talk like this to you, but not to her? Why have I already set her apart from humankind, and myself with her? What is going on in those secret places of my spirit with which you make so free? What is cooking, Mrs. Stuyvesant Oglander?”

    Why do I wish I had written it? Because of those final six words. The incongruity just cracks me up.

From Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

    It has not yet been recorded that any human being has gained a very large or permanent contentment from meditation upon the fact that he is better off than others.

    Why do I wish I’d written it? Because it’s my life motto. I’d like to have written my own life mottos.

From The Group by Mary McCarthy

    The Prothero family, on both sides (Mrs. Prothero was a Schuyler), was dim-witted and vain of it, as a sign of good breeding…
    …since both the young [Prothero] ladies were not only blind as moles but had loud, flat, unaware voices like the voices of deaf people, so that even when they whispered everyone turned around to look at them and listen to what they were saying. They had inherited this trait, another sign of blue blood, from their grandmother on their father’s side.
    Miss Mary, he felt, was aware…for he would find her nearsighted eyes frowningly focused on him, as if observing something unusual, and her nostrils sniffing, a sign of aroused attention she had probably picked up from the Madam; the poor young lady herself had no sense of smell.

    Why do I wish I’d written it?  Because it's an outstanding shot at those who are way too proud of family trees featuring a shocking number of shared antecedents. BTW, the character, Mary “Pokey” Prothero, married a “distant cousin.” They had twins. Yikes.