Don’t be dull, Esther. They’re all looking for perfection…and perfection is the love of death, if you face the issue squarely. That’s the reason why these people live so hysterically. Since the desire to live, in its truest sense of reproducing, isn’t in them, they live for the moment more passionately than most. That makes them brazen and shortsighted…. In this life, Esther, when you find perfection, you either die on the spot in orgasm, or else you don’t know what to do with it…. These people are the embodiment of the tragic principle of life. They contain tragedy as surely as a taut string contains a musical note. They’re the race’s own question mark on its value to survive.
—From John Horne Burns’s The Gallery, which has received a lot of attention recently after the publication of David Margolick’s Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns. We love this book so much there may be more quotations from it in the coming days.