Quotations:If Death Ever Slept

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by Rex Stout (1957)
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  1. Page references follow the 1993 Warner Books (London) edition, in which the novel is 186 pages long.
  2. Orrie vs. Archie conflict: compare quotes from page 77 & page 90. There's more of it 18 years later in A Family Affair.
  3. Compare quote from page 28, above
  4. A seminal Rex Stout quotation on the nature of TV and why neither Nero Wolfe, nor Archie Goodwin, nor Rex Stout himself appreciated TV. The dislike of TV is another feature, beside their preference of work over personal relationships, that unites the two seemingly fully contradictory main protagonists of the Corpus: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. — On a related note (TV), compare another quote from this novel, from page 119f, below. [Faterson]
  5. Compare Too Many Clients, quote from page 128
  6. Orrie vs. Archie conflict: compare quotes from page 32f & page 90. There's more of it 18 years later in A Family Affair.
  7. Orrie vs. Archie conflict: compare quotes from page 32f & page 77. There's more of it 18 years later in A Family Affair.
  8. On Archie's, Wolfe's, and Rex Stout's dislike of the TV medium, compare quote from page 35, above, and the footnote attached to it. [Faterson]

chapter 1, page 5 [1]

  He [Jarrell] didn't look tough, he looked flabby, but of course that's no sign. The toughest guy I ever ran into had cheeks that needed a brassière.


ib., page 8

Of course the idea that Wolfe would consider getting along without me at hand, to be called on for anything from typing a letter to repelling an invasion in force, was ludicrous. It was hard enough to get away for weekends.

Archie Goodwin suggests an 'appropriate' alias, ib., page 9

  “Well, I’ll try again. I suppose you’re right, I ought to look it. How about Adonis Guilfoyle?”  

George S. Kaufman to Moss Hart, quoted in chapter 2, page 13

That just shows what God could do if only he had money.


ib., page 14

  Jarrell was at his desk. “Don't come back, Green [= Archie Goodwin]. I'll be busy. Get your bearings. Cocktails in the lounge at six-thirty.”

Steck moved aside for me to pass, pulled the door shut as he backed out, said, “This way, sir,” and started down the corridor a mile a minute.

I called to him, “Hold it, Steck,” and he braked and turned.

“You look harassed,” I told him. He did. He was an inch taller than me, but thinner. His pale sad face was so long and narrow that he looked taller than he was. His black tie was a little crooked. I added, “You must have things to do.”

“Yes, sir, certainly, I have duties.”

“Sure. Just show me my room.”

“Mr. Jarrell said to take you around, sir.”

“You can do that later, if you can work it in. At the moment I need a room. I want to gargle.”

“Yes, sir. This way, sir.”

[...] near the end of the hall he opened a door and bowed me in. [...] I thanked him out.  


ib., page 16

  It would be inaccurate to say I got lost five times in the next quarter of an hour, since you can’t get lost when you have no destination, but I certainly got confused.

ib., page 16f

  She was on a couch, stretched out from the waist down, with her upper half propped against cushions. Since she was too old for either Lois or Susan, though by no means aged, she must be Trella, the marital affliction. There was a shade too much of her around the middle and above the neck – say six or eight pounds. She was a blue-eyed blonde, and her face had probably been worthy of notice before she had buried the bones too deep by thickening the stucco. What showed below the skirt hem of her blue dress – from the knees on down – was still worthy of notice. While I noticed it she was reaching for a remote-control gadget, which was there beside her, to turn off the TV.  


chapter 3, page 28

  [Archie Goodwin:][...] Your wife thinks she hypnotizes them.”

“You don't know what my wife thinks. You only know what she says she thinks. [...]”  


A telephone call from Archie Goodwin, with Orrie Cather and Nero Wolfe, ib., page 32f

  After one buzz a voice was in my ear. “Nero Wolfe’s residence, Orville Cather speaking.”

I was stunned. It took me a full second to recover.[2] Then I spoke, through my nose. “This is the city mortuary. We have a body here, a young man with classic Grecian features who jumped off Brooklyn Bridge. Papers in his wallet identify him as Archie Goodwin and his address –”

“Toss it back in the river,” Orrie said. “What good is it? It never was much good anyway.”

“Okay,” I said, not through my nose. “Now I know. May I please speak to Mr Wolfe?”

“I’ll see. He’s reading a book. Hold it.”

I did so, and in a moment got a growl. “Yes?”

“I went for a walk and am in a booth. Reporting: the bed is good and the food is edible. I have met the family and they are not mine, except possibly the daughter, Lois. She shot a squirrel and wrote a poem about it. [...]”  

Archie Goodwin to Nero Wolfe, ib., page 33f

  “[...] What I think, I think he expects me to fix up a stew that will boil her alive, but I have been known to think wrong. I admit it's conceivable that she has it coming to her. One thing, she attracts men without apparently trying to.[3] If a woman gathers them around by working a come-on, that's okay, they have a choice, they can play or not as they please. But when they come just because she's there, with no invitation visible to the naked eye, and I have good eyes, look out. She may not be a snake, in fact she may be an angel, but angels can be more dangerous than snakes and usually are. [...]”  


ib., page 34

I bought a picture postcard at the rack, and a stamp, addressed the card to Fritz, and wrote on it, “Having wonderful time. Wish you were here. Archie,” went and found a mailbox and dropped the card in, and returned to the barracks.  

ib., page 35

  I have no TV favorites, because most of the programs seem to be intended for either the under-brained or the over-brained and I come in between, but if I had, “Show Your Slip” wouldn't be one of them. If it's one of yours, you can assume you have more brains than I have, and what I assume is my own affair. [4]


The snake's charm, ib., page 37

  I’ll tell you exactly how it was. I wasn’t aware that I had moved until I found myself halfway to the door and taking another step. Then I stopped, and told myself, I will be damned, you might think she had me on a chain.

Lois Jarrell, one of the three best dancers Archie has stepped with, in chapter 4, page 44

  Jarrell had said she was particular about her dancing partners, and she had a right to be. The rhythm was clear through her, not just from her hips down, and she was right with me in everything we tried. To give her as good as she gave I had to put the mind away entirely and let the body take over [...]

Nero Wolfe in chapter 5, page 64

  “[...]; I will concede that we blundered into this mess by a collaboration in mulishness[5]; [...]”  

chapter 6, page 66f

[...] so it couldn’t have been more than ninety seconds since he left his desk to go to the files. That’s the advantage of being a detective with a trained mind; you collect all kinds of useless facts without even trying.  


ib., page 70

  I slept all right, I always sleep, but woke up at seven o’clock. I turned over and shut my eyes again, but nothing doing. I was awake. It was a damn nuisance. [...] So when my eyes wouldn’t stay closed no matter which side I tried, I lay on my back and let them stay open, hoping they liked the ceiling. They didn’t. They kept turning – up, down, right, left. I got the impression that they were trying to turn clear over to see inside. When I found myself wondering what would happen if they actually made it I decided that had gone far enough, kicked the sheet off, and got up.  


chapter 7, page 77

  As I pushed the phone back Orrie asked, “What’s an arquebus?”

“Figure it out yourself. A combination of an ark and a bus. Amphibian.”

“Then don’t.” He sat up. “If I’m not supposed to be in on whatever you think you’re doing, okay, but I have a right to know what an arquebus is. Do you want me out of here?”

I told him no, I could think better with him there for contrast.   [6]


ib., page 82

  “Confound it.” He [Wolfe] was going to have to work sooner than expected. To Orrie: “You are Archie Goodwin.”

“Yes, sir,” Orrie said. “It’s a comedown, but I’ll try. [...]”  

Archie puts Orrie in his place (= ending of chapter 7), page 90

  Down went my hands, like twin snakes striking, and I had his [Orrie's] ankles. With a healthy jerk he was out of my chair, and I kept him coming, and going, until he was flat on his back on the rug, six feet away. By the time he had bounced up I was sitting. I may or may not know how to deal with a murderer, but I know how to handle an impostor[7].  

chapter 8, page 102

  I cringed. “Very well, sir,” I said, “you want my record. I was born in the maternity ward of the Ohio State Penitentiary on Christmas Eve, eighteen sixty-five. After they branded me I was taken –”

[Nero Wolfe:] “Shut up.”  

Archie compares Cramer with Wolfe, chapter 9, page 112

  “No,” I admitted [to Wolfe]. “He [Cramer] goes against the grain. He has bad manners. He lacks polish. Look at you for contrast. You are courteous, gracious, tactful, eager to please. [...]”  

chapter 10, page 119f

[...] I kept my eyes on “We’re Asking You” clear to the end. I didn’t learn much. They were asking what to do about extra-bright children, and since I didn’t have any and intended to stay as far away as I could from those I had seen and heard on TV and in the movies, I wasn’t concerned.

[...] It was Bill Brundage, the one who has the trick of rolling his eyes up, pretending he’s looking for a word, when it’s right there in front of him and everybody knows it.[8]


chapter 15, page 167

None of them held a gun at the time I called, nor could I detect any trace of oil or other evidence that a gun had been there. One of them, a hole in a tree the other side of the backstretch, was so ideal that I was tempted to hide my own gun in it.

ib., page 169

  He [Wolfe] lifted his eyes, said, “I’m reading, Archie,” and lowered them back to the book.

The best thing to throw at him would have been the typewriter, but I didn’t own it. Next best would have been the telephone, but I didn’t own that, either, and the cord wasn’t long enough.

chapter 16, page 174

  Seven o’clock is much too early a breakfast hour unless you’re a bird or a bird watcher, but I made it to the kitchen by 7:08.


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