A.M. Homes Quotes

If you don’t write the book you have to write, everything breaks.

A M Homes

Books tell you more about their owners than the owners do.

I once jokingly told someone that every book is like a relationship. They’re four or five years long – that’s not so bad. They’re serious. They demand a lot of attention. But I remember thinking that I wanted to have one with someone who’s not so crazy and peculiar and demanding.

Sometimes you can do things for others that you can’t do for yourself.

Every family has a story that it tells itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are sharpened, others dropped, and there is often debate about what really happened. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still agreement that this is the family story. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the flagpole that the family hangs its identity from.

People should pay more attention. Everyone wants attention, but no one wants to give attention.

A M Homes

I think fiction can help us find everything. You know, I think that in fiction you can say things and in a way be truer than you can be in real life and truer than you can be in non-fiction. There’s an accuracy to fiction that people don’t really talk about – an emotional accuracy.

What draws me to family… if I were a psychiatrist, I’d say an enormous amount of unresolved personal material. If I were an anthropologist, I’d say families are at the root of social structures – they shape our identity, our belief systems – and so I find them fascinating. Also, I love the idea that families have narratives that are essentially the family story that is passed along generation to generation – and the rifts start when people question the story.

The struggle is how to write optimistically when the world we’re living in is not inherently optimistic. I love the idea of the family from the most Norman Rockwell version to Norman Bates. Without family, we have very little – it is the most basic social structure. So yes I suppose I wanted to write a hopeful book about the evolution of the family.

I am very interested in loyalty, even if the person to whom one is loyal is flawed, criminal, or otherwise in the wrong.

My mind leaps to my theory about presidents – that there are two kinds, ones who have a lot of sex and the others who start wars. In short – and don’t quote me, because this is an incomplete expression of a more complex premise – I believe blow jobs prevent war.

The weird thing about having your birthday on a school day is that by the time you get to be ten, or eleven for sure, no one at school knows it’s your birthday anymore. It’s not like when you’re little and your mom brings cupcakes for the whole class. But even though no one knows, you walk around like it’s supposed to be a national holiday. You walk around thinking that people are supposed to be nice to you, like maybe on your birthday you’re ten times more breakable than on any other day. Well, it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t.

Birthday parties make me nervous as hell. They’re one of those things where you’re forced to be happy. And even if you’re totally depressed, you’re got to pretend you’re glad you were born, regardless of the fact that getting older means you’re closer to dying.

It’s my policy not to review funerals.

You really can’t write well if you’re thinking about what the reviewers might say.

I really don’t watch enough TV to know about the impact. In my experience as a TV writer, I would say is the exact opposite – it’s very constricted, all having to conform to a form. My sense of fiction writing is not to think about rules but to be driven by the characters and their stories. I often ask myself what’s at risk here, who needs what, and how are they going to get it. There has to be a reason for the reader to stop living their own life and start reading your book.

The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable.

A M Homes

A lot of people get flipped out if you’re quiet. They say stuff like, What are you thinking? And if they don’t start interrogating you, they start talking, going on and on about stuff that’s totally irrelevant, and the silence gets so big and loud that it’s scary.

I think about how truly interesting and odd it is that when a woman marries, traditionally she loses her name, becoming absorbed by the husband’s family name – she is in effect lost, evaporated from all records under her maiden name. I finally understand the anger behind feminism – the idea that as a woman you are property to be conveyed between your father and your husband, but never an individual who exists independently. And on the flip side, it is also one of the few ways one can legitimately get lost – no one questions it.

Was this the big one or was this the small tremor, the warning? Does it get better – does the sensation of being in a dream underwater go away?

I’m feeling how profoundly my family disappointed me and in the end how I retreated, how I became nothing, because that was much less risky than attempting to be something, to be anything in the face of such contempt.

I’m nothing you can catch now. I am black powder, I am singe, I am the bomb that bursts the night.

I’m very interested in compassion – compassion for oneself and others. I write about very complicated characters and experiences and try to do it without judging the character or the action.

I thought a lot about Nixon’s personal history and the changes in America during his lifetime and tried to craft stories, which I thought reflected some of his personal history but also the backdrop of a changing America. Nixon grew up in a strict Quaker family. The idea of the American Dream, of hard work and not much fun, was ingrained in Nixon as a child, but curiously so was a love of music. Nixon himself was a pretty good piano player. So it’s the contradictions that interest me, as I think we all have them.

I’d say our ability to supersize emotions are American-made special effects. In European countries, people mostly stay close to home and whatever rage there is simmers under the surface – it’s what made the plays of Shakespeare and Harold Pinter so good.