Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is By being persuaded to identify with them.
The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.
The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.
Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
Because like all whores you value propriety. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.
We are able to walk on air, but only as long as our illusion supports us.
Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
The poem is a cry of the unborn heart. Yes, because the poem perfectly embodies the world, there is no world without poem.
We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.
What we call fiction is the ancient way of knowing, the total discourse that antedates all the special vocabularies….Fiction is democratic, it reasserts the authority of the single mind to make and remake the world.
I am led to the proposition that there is no fiction or nonfiction as we commonly understand the distinction: there is only narrative.
The philosophical conservative is someone willing to pay the price of other people s suffering for his principles.
All over the world today, not just in the totalitarian countries, assiduous functionaries in Ministries of Truth are clubbing history dumb and rendering language insensible.
I am telling you what I know—words have music and if you are a musician you will write to hear them.
A novelist is a person who lives in other people’s skins.
You can’t remember sex. You can remember the fact of it, and recall the setting, and even the details, but the sex of the sex cannot be remembered, the substantive truth of it, it is by nature self-erasing, you can remember its anatomy and be left with a judgment as to the degree of your liking of it, but whatever it is as a splurge of being, as a loss, as a charge of the conviction of love stopping your heart like your execution, there is no memory of it in the brain, only the deduction that it happened and that time passed, leaving you with a silhouette that you want to fill in again.
Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.
Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
There is really no fiction or non-fiction; there is only narrative. One mode of perception has no greater claim on the truth than the other; that the distance has perhaps to do with distance – narrative distance – from the characters; it has to do with the kind of voice that is talking, but it certainly hasn’t to do with the common distribution between fact and imagination.
We make a mistake to condescend to the past as if it were preparatory to our own time.
The theory of the teacher with all these immigrant kids was that if you spoke English loudly enough they would eventually understand.
The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.
And so do people pass out of one’s life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own.