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The writer’s obligation in the age of X is to play with words and to keep playing with them—not to deracinate or deplete them, but to use them as vehicles for discovering history, recovering wounds, reciting damage, and awakening conscience.

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I learned that if they’re characters, you don’t think about what they have given you or taken away — they’re just someone you’re describing.

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For me, writing is a way of struggling through the intricacies of an anti-empirical sensibility. And there must be words other than fiction and nonfiction. I see fiction not as the construction of an alternate world but as what your imagination gives you from the real world.

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At thirteen, I’d never thought about writing. But the experience of understanding that you cannot take the entire work in at once, yet that there are places you can enter—I still hold onto that. 

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I look upon literature as an art, and I practice it as an art. Of course, it is also a vocation, and a trade, and a profession, and all kinds of things; but first it’s an art, and you should practice it as that

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