“Mom sat in her chair beside the potbelly and the boys sat at the table eating what Ree fed them. Mom’s morning pills turned her into a cat, a breathing thing that sat near heat and occasionally made a sound. Mom’s chair was an old padded rocker that seldom rocked, and at odd instants she’d hum ill-matched snips of music, notes unrelated by melody or pitch. But for most of any day she was quiet and still, wearing a small lingering smile prompted by something vaguely nice going on inside her head. She was a Bromont, born to this house, and she’d once been pretty. Even as she was now, medicated and lost to the present, with hair she forgot to wash or brush and deep wrinkles growing on her face, you could see she’d once been as comely as any girl that ever danced barefoot across this tangled country of Ozark hills and hollers. Long, dark, and lovely she had been, in those days before her mind broke and the parts scattered and she let them go.”
“Ree’s grand hope was that these boys would not be dead to wonder by age twelve, dulled to life, empty of kindness, boiling with mean. So many Dolly kids were that way, ruined before they had chin hair, groomed to live outside square law and abide by the remorseless blood-soaked commandments that governed lives led outside square law. There were two hundred Dollys, plus Lockrums, Boshells, Tankerslys, and Langans, who were basically Dollys by marriage, living within thirty miles of this valley. Some lived square lives, many did not, but even the square-living Dollys were Dollys at heart and might be helpful kin in a pinch. The rough Dollys were plenty peppery and hard-boiled toward one another, but were unleashed hell on enemies, scornful of town law and town ways, clinging to their own.”
“All her aches were joined as a chorus to sing pain throughout her flesh and thoughts.
………When Ree moved she came loose and sagged as the chorus inside hit fresh sharp notes. Her agony was the song and the song held so many voices and Gail lowered her into the bathtub where sunk to her chin in tepid water she marked a slight hushing of all the chorus but the singers in her head.”
“Ree needed often to inject herself with pleasant sounds, stab those sounds past the constant screeching, squalling hubbub regular life raised inside her spirit, poke the soothing sounds past that racket and down deep where her jittering soul paced on a stone slab in a gray room, agitated and endlessly provoked but yearning to hear something that might bring a moment’s rest.”
“Pine trees with low limbs spread over fresh snow made a stronger vault for the spirit than pews and pulpits ever could.”
“Love and hate hold hands always so it made natural sense that they’d get confused by upset married folk in the wee hours once in a while and a nosebleed or bruised breast might result. But it just seemed proof that a great foulness was afoot in the world when a no-strings roll in the hay with a stranger led to chipped teeth or cigarette burns on the wrist.”
“One night is forgot like a fart, two like a pang, but after three nights lain together there is a hurt, and to soothe the hurt there will be night four, and five, and nights unnumbered. The heart’s in it then, spinning dreams, and torment is on the way. The heart makes dreams seem like ideas.”