There are just so many great epigraphs out there—so many that I had to put together another list of ones that I love. From quotes from films, to interviews, to songs, to poetry, to other books, epigraphs draw from a wealth of sources to prove the interconnectedness of all art.
“Poets claim that we recapture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years.”
“The unknown element in the lives of other people is like that of nature, which each fresh scientific discovery merely reduces but does not abolish.”
—Marcel Proust, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
Jennifer Egan’s sweeping Pulitzer Prize–winning novel takes a long hard look at how “time makes goons of us all,” examined through the lens of a particularly ephemeral medium—rock music. A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD shows us that while we may all have our moment in the sun, that moment will fade faster than any of us can truly comprehend.
Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals the pasts of two music industry veterans in this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. With music pulsing on every page, this masterpiece is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
“If they don’t see happiness in the picture, at least they’ll see the black.”
—Chris Marker, SANS SOLEIL
CITIZEN is a “lyric”—what author Claudia Rankine deems her innovative blend of criticism, poetry, and visual art—that observes that, while racial tensions are often buried beneath the surface, they are still alarmingly present in modern life, no matter how “progressive” we think we are.
Told through essay, image, and poetry, Claudia Rankine’s provocative book is a powerful testament to the effects of mounting racial aggressions on the individual and collective in the twenty-first century.
“Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.”
—Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
High in his attic bedroom, 12-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book . . . "The Book of Lost Things."
High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book... The Book of Lost Things.
“I remember my own childhood vividly . . . I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.”
—Maurice Sendak, in conversation with Art Spiegelman, The New Yorker, September 27, 1993
This spooky, atmospheric tale follows a middle-aged man returning to his old home for a funeral and recalling his strange childhood—particularly the peculiar girl who lived at the end of the lane who opened a world of wonders for him—both beautiful and horrific.
An imaginative and poignant adult fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror. This bewitching and harrowing story of mystery, survival, memory, and magic makes the impossible all too real.
“Passage home? Never.”
—THE ODYSSEY, Book 5, Homer (translated by Robert Fagles)
LIT is the harrowing, deeply personal chronicle of Mary Karr’s rocky journey to sobriety. Karr is best known as the celebrated memoirist who wrote THE LIAR’S CLUB.
From the beloved author of THE LIARS’ CLUB, this memoir follows the self-professed black-belt sinner’s descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness—and her astonishing resurrection.
“Do I stay or do I go?
And do I have to do just one?”
—Jackson Browne, “The Fairest of the Seasons”
In a series of interconnected stories, DESERT BOYS explores the contrast between urban and rural communities, framed through the lens of San Francisco and the bleak desert community the protagonist, Daley Kushner, left behind. DESERT BOYS also expands to examine life in deserts on the other side of the world, where war threatens his most precious friendship.
“All that is personal soon rots; it must be packed in ice or salt.”
—William Butler Yeats
In 1928, Billy Gawronski, a scrappy teen from New York’s Lower East Side, stowed away on an expedition to Antarctica. This true story will take you from the dance halls of Tahiti all the way to the blinding white of Antarctica, following the unforgettable voyage of a boy who would become an international celebrity.
“When you believe in things you don’t understand then you suffer.”
—Stevie Wonder, “Superstition”
A modern retelling of a fairy tale set in modern-day New York, Victor LaValle’s bewitching THE CHANGELING follows a young father determined to make sense of the mysterious box of books his father left him years ago—before strange events destroy the life he’s tried so hard to build.