Quotes Category

Tragedy, called a more exalted kind of consciousness, is so called because it makes us aware of what the character might have been. But to say or strongly imply what a man might have been requires of the author a soundly based, completely believed vision of man’s great possibilities. As Aristotle said, the poet is greater than the historian because he presents not only things as they were, but foreshadows what they might have been. We forsake literature when we are content to chronicle disaster.

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Poetry should not be regarded as one more means of escape.

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We don’t always know what intimate life consists of until novels tell us.

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Maybe stories, fiction or not, give solace, context, possibility, as much with their stable, recurring forms as with their infinitely various contents, and thereby produce examples of lives shaped, framed so they are recognizably distinguishable from emptiness, from darkness that seems always to surround and render lives unseeable.

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The measure of a work of art is from how deep a life does it spring.

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The act of writing is itself enough; it serves to clarify my thoughts and feelings. The act of writing is an integral part of my mental life; ideas emerge, are shaped, in the act of writing.

My journals are not written for others, nor do I usually look at them myself, but they are a special, indispensable form of talking to myself.

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I no longer trust novels which fully satisfy my passion to understand.

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I’d go up to Concord Deli thinking about whether
I could be a writer some day. If I would ever learn to
smoke, curse & two-step against a hot stove 
while my children grew up under my own roof.
What would it cost me, or my family, to make up stories?

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I think literature is the best technology we have for representing consciousness, and so I think there’s a kind of intervention that literature can perform in representing sex explicitly: it can reclaim the sexual body as a site of consciousness.

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As a reader, I’ve long felt passionately about fictions that articulate anger, frustration, disappointment—from reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, in high school, when I thought, “my God, fiction can do this? Fiction can say these unsayable things?” to reading Beckett or Camus or Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater to Thomas Bernhard—these are all articulating unseemly, unacceptable experiences and emotions, rage prominent among them. Because rage at life and rage for life are very closely linked. To be angry, you have to give a shit.

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