Quotes Category

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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It’s past, you’ll understand it later.

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Literature is not some kind of political manifestation.

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I need to reach beyond interior decoration, biography. Art is a way of melting out through one’s skin. “What, who is this about?” is not the essential question. A poem is not about; it is out of and to. Passionate language in movement. The deep structure is always musical, and physical — as breath, as pulse

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I have been increasingly willing to let the unconscious offer its materials, to listen to more than the one voice of a single idea.  Perhaps a simple way of putting it would be to say that instead of poems about experiences I am getting poems that are experiences, that contribute to my knowledge and my emotional life even while they reflect and assimilate it. 

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Mark Twain was underestimated by his fans; Henry James was largely ignored by his countrymen and preferred to live in England (he even became a British Citizen). America was, alas, a country of great eccentrics and great prudes, of great writers and few readers.

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