American Pastoral

Roth, Philip

Vintage, 1997

pp. 339 - 340

“Barry’s wife, Marcia, a literature professor in New York, was, by even the Swede’s generous estimate, ‘a difficult person,’ a militant nonconformist of staggering self-certainty much given to sarcasm and calculated apocalyptic pronouncements designed to bring discomfort to the lords of the earth. There was nothing she did or said that didn’t make clear where she stood. She had barely to move a muscle–swallow while you were speaking, tap with a fingernail on the arm of the chair; even nod her head as if she were in total agreement–to inform you that nothing you were saying was correct. To encompass all her convictions she dressed in large, block-printed caftans–an extensive woman, for whom a disheveled appearance was less a protest against convention than a sign that that she was a thinker who got right to the point. No nonsense, no commonplace stood between her and the harshest truths.”