41 City of Thieves quotes worth reading again and again.

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David Benioff is most well-known for being the showrunner behind HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones.

Though, this is far from his best work.

A decade ago Benioff wrote a piece of historical fiction titled City of Thieves, a captivating narrative that takes place during the Nazi’s brutal siege of Leningrad.

It tells the story of two young Russians who venture beyond enemy lines to find the impossible… chicken eggs… requested by a powerful Soviet colonel for his daughter’s wedding cake.

It is truly some astounding writing and I don’t say that lightly… I’ve read folks like Hemingway, Bukowski, Lamott, Bourdain, the list goes on.

City of Thieves hits hard and to back up this sentiment, I’ve shared a few lines from the novel down below…

A few City of Thieves quotes worth reading again and again.

1. On immortality…

“They don’t wear their seat belts in the car; they don’t wear suntan lotion in the sun. They have decided nothing can kill them but God himself, and they don’t even believe in him.”

2. On writing, living and bull-shitting…

“David,” he said. “You’re a writer. Make it up.”

3. On not realizing how well you have it…

“In June of 1941, before the Germans came, we thought we were poor. But June seemed like paradise by winter.”

4. On dark winters…

“That time of year the sun lingers in the sky for only six hours, scurrying from horizon to horizon as if spooked.”

5. On falling pilots…

“When a junker went down, the plane’s burning carcass falling like an angel cast from heaven, a great shout of defiance rose up from rooftops all across the city, all the gunners and firefighters shaking their fists to salute the victorious pilot.”

6. On starving to death…

“A slip on one of those concrete steps, with no fat or muscle to cushion the fall, meant a broken bone, and a broken bone meant death.”

7. On not starving to death…

“He was a tall man, well built, and if we had seen him walking around Piter in street clothes, we would have known him at once for an infiltrator — he had the body of a man who ate meat every day.”

8. On running…

“Now, as we sped down the dark street, swerving to avoid bomb craters and sprays of rubble, he seemed to be smirking at me, his white lips a scar splitting his frozen face. We were going the same way.”

9. On prison…

“The place was an anti-fortress, designed to keep enemies inside.”

10. On darkness…

“… the black silence began to feel tangible, something that could get into your lungs and drown you.”

11. On fighting fear with fear…

“… contrary to popular belief, the experience of terror does not make your braver. Perhaps, though, it is easier to hide your fear when you’re afraid all the time.”

12. On going up against the impossible…

“The night was never going to end. The Germans had shot down the fucking sun, they could do it, why not, their scientists were the best in the world, they could figure it out.”

13. On bad ration bread…

“It was as far from real meat as ration bread from real bread, but there was fat in it, and fat was life.”

14. On insomnia…

“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed. I was born an insomniac and that’s the way I’ll die, wasting thousands of hours along the way longing for unconsciousness, longing for a rubber mallet to crack me in the head, not so hard, not hard enough to do any damage, just a good whack to put me down for the night.”

15. On hitting one’s head.

“… a lump the size of an infant’s fist had swelled where my forehead had cracked the ceiling.”

16. On growing old…

“We saw two women in their sixties walking very close together, their shoulders touching, eyes on the sidewalk looking for the patch of ice that could kill them.”

17. On knowing intuitively…

“I was like a well-trained pianist who knows which notes to hit but can’t make the music his own. A brilliant player understands the game in a way he can never quite articulate; he analyzes the board and knows how to improve his position before his brain can devise an explanation for the move.”

18. On wearing another man’s boots…

“We talked from stall to stall, eyeing the stacks of leather boots, some still bloody from the feet of the previous owners.”

19. On eating bad candy…

“The boy sold what people called library candy, made from tearing covers off of books, peeling off the binding glue, boiling it down, and reforming it into bars you could wrap in paper. The stuff tasted like wax but there was protein in the glue, protein kept you alive, and the city’s books were disappearing like the pigeons.”

20. On the strength of women…

“Most of the men working there were out on the front lines now, but women had taken over on the lathes and presses and the Works never lost a step, coal always burning in the furnaces, smoke always rising from the red brick smokestacks, the factories never shutting down, even when bombs fell through the roof, even when dead girls had to be carried from the assembly lines, cold hands still clutching their tools.”

21. On admiring dimples…

“There was no corresponding dimple on the right cheek, which seemed odd, and I noticed that I kept waiting for her to smile so I could see the solitary dimple again.”

22. On the danger of strangers…

“Strangers were an irritation at best and fatal at worst even if they meant no harm, they always wanted food.”

23. On being good-looking…

“They were all a little in love with him.”

24. On loneliness…

“The loneliest sound in the world is other people making love.”

25. On loving literature…

“In spite of all his irritating qualities, I couldn’t help liking a man who despised a fictional character with such passion.”

26. On big noses…

“My mighty nose was all show, a good target for bullies’ taunts but strangely bad at picking up scents.”

27. On friendship…

“Don’t worry, my friend. I won’t let you die.”

28. On lusting…

“There is very little in this world that makes me happier than a ballerina’s thighs.”

29. On misbehaving…

“This is what happens to little girls who walk away.”

30. On writing prolifically…

“His stub of a pencil had shrunk to the size of a thumbnail, but he jotted down notes with his usual speed.”

31. On being strong like bricks…

“They’re trying to burn down our city; they’re trying to starve us to death. But we’re like two of Piter’s bricks. You can’t burn a brick. You can’t starve a brick.”

32. On living for the first time…

“I felt more awake than I ever had before, as if this moment, in the farmhouse outside of Berezovka, was the first true moment of my life and everything that came before was a fitful sleep.”

33. On the awkwardness of youth…

“I pulled the German knife from my ankle sheath. I knew I looked silly holding it, the way a young boy looks holding his father’s shaving razor.”

34. On anxiety…

“Even now, with bullets buzzing through the air like angry hornets, I cannot escape the chatter of my brain.”

35. On the horror of war…

“Two Germans lay halfway between it and the house, their skulls pouring dark junk onto the snow.”

36. On imperfect smiles…

“Her teeth were like children’s teeth, very small and quite matching.”

37. On moving like a warrior…

“She moved with the kind of lazy grace you see in athletes when they’re relaxing away from the playing field.”

38. On the beauty of destruction…

“I thought it was strange that powerful violence is often so pleasing to the eyes, like tracer bullets at night.”

39. On a bad case of blue balls…

“I hadn’t been with a girl in four months. My balls were ringing like a couple of church bells.”

40. On starving, rapidly…

“He looked like a fat man who recently lost all the fat, his broad cheeks deflated, the heavy skin hanging slack across the bones of his face.”

41. On lusting…

“The tang of her body made me want to lick her clean.”

A few other quotes worth knowing…

Benioff is a master at imagery, leaving the reader almost feeling, tasting and hearing the words he puts to paper. Hemingway seems to do the same in A Moveable Feast.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer (but mostly David Benioff).

Sticky Notes is my email list reserved for entrepreneurs, creatives, marketers, writers and freelancers looking to sell like hell (without losing their soul).

Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on April 24, 2020.

Written by

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things. https://coleschafer.com/subscribe

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