Jeff VanderMeer

American writer (born 1968)

Jeffrey Scott VanderMeer (born July 7, 1968, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania) is an American writer, editor and publisher.

Jeff VanderMeer (2019)


Unless otherwise noted, quotes and page numbers are from the second edition (2002), which was substantially revised from the first. Pages of the AppendiX are not sequentially numbered in this edition.
  • The city might be savage, stray dogs might share the streets with grimy urchins whose blank eyes reflected the knowledge that they might soon be covered over, blinded forever, by the same two pennies just begged from some gentleman, and no one in the fuming, fulminous boulevards of trade might know who actually ran Ambergris—or, if anyone ran it at all, but, like a renegade clock, it ran on and wound itself heedless, empowered by the insane weight of its own inertia, the weight of its own citizenry.
    • "Dradin, In Love", Ch. 4, p. 48
  • An inordinate love of ritual can be harmful to the soul, unless, of course, in times of great crisis, when ritual can protect the soul from fracture.
    • "The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of the City of Ambergris", Ch. 4, p. 122
  • A fresh river in a beautiful meadow
    Imagined in his mind
    The good Painter, who would some day paint it
    • "The Transformation of Martin Lake", epigram, p. 130
  • It is the nature of the writer to question the validity of his world and yet rely on his senses to describe it. From what other tension can great literature be born?
    • "The Strange Case of X", p. 196
  • It closely resembles the situation that exists within a mental institution: in tight quarters, in similar garb, dissimilar minds attempt to build a consensus reality that, with a monumental effort of empathy, cannot—can never!—take concrete form.
    • AppendiX, "King Squid", Part III: Expounding with brevity on the pecularities of squid lore, note 32
  • I could not move or speak for several minutes, frozen in the belief that the book itself had changed and was now writing me.
    • AppendiX, "A note from Dr. V to Dr. Simpkin"
  • Unlike the Cult of the Seven-Edged Star, the Church of the Seven Pointed Star believed that God had seven points rather than seven edges. Therefore, rather than worshipping the journey toward self-realization symbolized by the edges, they worshipped the goals of self-realization as symbolized by the points. [...] Adherents to the Church of the Seven-pointed Star used swords with sharp points but no edge, while the Cult of the Seven-Edged Star used swords with sharp edges but no point. Alas, edges proved superior to points in most battles fought in the streets of Nicea. Caroline's followers were forced to either commit sacrilege and switch to edges, or become meals for the ever-present saltwater buzzard. Proving, one could say, the point of the edges.
    • AppendiX, "The Ambergris Glossary", entry for Caroline of the Church of the Seven-Pointed Star
All page numbers from the Underland Press paperback edition
  • When they give you things, ask yourself why. When you're grateful to them for giving you the things you should have anyway, ask yourself why.
    • Opening epigram
  • Maybe once, early on, he had convinced himself he could do some good, sometimes even imagined he was a mole, getting close so he could strike a blow. Imagined he was in it to defend Ambergris from the enemies that surrounded it. Imagined he was protecting ordinary citizens.
    But the truth was he’d been tired, had stopped caring. Broken down from too much fighting, too many things connected to his past. And when that spark, that impulse, had returned, it was too late: he was trapped.
    • p. 20
  • It looked like lively abstract art. Symbols in search of context.
    • p. 74
  • Who had the bigger burden? The one who had to watch the other person endure or the one who endured?
    • p. 87
  • But the fact is I don’t care. I haven’t cared since I came here, and I will continue not to care until I leave. With as much of Ambergris smoldering behind me as I can manage.
    • p. 122
  • I had learned so much about the world that I had decided to withdraw from it.
    • p. 299
  • They’ll never forget, never forgive, no matter who the enemy is, son. Better just to start a new life. Be someone else.
    • p. 303
  • Strange, but when he closed his eyes he had an image of the hotel above them restored to its former grandeur. A concierge and porter in the lobby. Someone behind the desk waiting to take his key. Sintra in an evening gown. They’d be about to take a motored vehicle to the opera. The streets would be busy with merchants and people coming home from work. The buildings, the storefronts, would be bright and cheery with lights. Like it had been in those mayfly beautiful moments between wars, before the Rising.
    • p. 325
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