THE TRUE RELIGION is not that which has no difficulties. We have to swallow mysteries with it. But we have to swallow the same mysteries without it.
...a man who wrote and spoke in the tradition of the Middle Ages, the most thoroughly and even painfully logical period that the world has ever seen.
Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.
From Shteyngart's Russian Debutante Handbook:
...the hopeful grandeur of municipal buildings built at a time when the transport of hogs and heifers promised the city a commercial elegance that had expired along with the animals . . . But, somehow, this city has persevered against the unkind seasons and the storms that gather speed over Lake Erie. Somehow, Cleveland has survived, with her gray banner unfurled—the banner of Archangelsk and Detroit, of Kharkov and Liverpool—the banner of men and women who would settle the most ignominious parts of the earth...
This is America, where the morning paper lands on the doorstep at precisely 7:30 A.M.—not the woolly dominion Vladimir once ruled... And what of [his] child? Will he live the way his father once did: foolishly, imperially, ecstatically? . . . No, thinks Vladimir. For he can see the child now. A boy. Growing up adrift in a private world of electronic goblins and quiet sexual urges. Properly insulated from the elements by stucco and storm windows. Serious and a bit dull, but beset by no illness, free of the fear and madness of Vladimir’s Eastern lands.