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- If you are going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And Maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you'll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.
- All I want to do is get my check and get drunk.
- I decided to clean up the apartment. I thought I must be turning into a fag.
- Amazing how grimly we hold on to our misery, the energy we burn fueling our anger. Amazing how one moment, we can be snarling like a beast, then a few moments later, forgetting what or why. Not hours of this, or days, or months, or years of this...but decades. Lifetimes completely used up, given over to the pettiest rancor and hatred. Finally, there is nothing here for death to take away.
- As we live we all get caught and torn by various traps. Writing can trap you. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past. They hear accolades and believe them. There's only one final judge of writing, and that is the Writer. When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers; then he is finished. And, of course, when he is swayed with his fame and his fortune, you can float him down the river with the turds.
- Pickle Factory Boss: Writer, huh? Are you sure?
- Chinaski: No, I'm not. I'm halfway through a novel.
- Pickle Factory Boss: What's it about?
- Chinaski: Everything.
- Pickle Factory Boss: It's about... cancer?
- Chinaski: Yes.
- Pickle Factory Boss: How about my wife?
- Chinaski: She's in there too.
- Chinaski: I lost a woman.
- Old Black Man: Yeah, well, you'll have others. You'll lose them, too.
- Payroll Lady: I'm sorry, sir.
- Chinaski: You're not sorry. You don't know what sorrow is. I do.
- Matt Dillon - Henry Chinaski
- Lili Taylor - Jan
- Maris Tomei - Laura
- Adrienne Shelly - Jerry
- Fisher Stevens - Manny
- Karen Young - Grace
- Didier Flamand - Pierre