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To be a better writer requires finding a way to care about things more deeply and more broadly, to become more interested in the world, to observe it more finely.

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The reader is always faced with the question of what a particular gesture, a particular detail means. It is not enough to say that it need not mean anything because it simply is. The meaningless accumulation of accurately observed detail cannot satisfy us for long; only if the details are made to tell, only if they are weighted with a significance for the lives shown, will they be tolerable.

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Happy is the novelist who manages to preserve an actual love letter that he received when he was young within a work of fiction, embedded in it like a clean bullet in flabby flesh and quite secure there, among spurious lives.

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The only law that binds the novelist throughout, whatever course he is pursuing, is the need to be consistent on some plan, to follow the principle he has adopted

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Hard and fast rules, a priori restrictions, mere interdictions (you shall not speak of this, you shall not look at that) have surely served their time, and will in the nature of the case never strike an energetic talent as anything but arbitrary. A healthy, living and growing art, full of curiosity and fond of exercise, has an indefeasible mistrust of rigid prohibitions.

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