Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.
Humor is what happens when we’re told the truth quicker and more directly than we’re used to.
It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.
The generalizing writer is like the passionate drunk, stumbling into your house mumbling: I know I’m not being clear, exactly, but don’t you kind of feel what I’m feeling?
…But all that power has culminated in gentleness. It is as if that is the point of power: to allow one to access the higher registers of gentleness.
I guess I was sad that love was not real? Or not all that real, anyway? I guess I was sad that love could feel so real and the next minute be gone, and all because of something Abnesti was doing.
He came out of nothingness, took form, was loved, was always bound to return to nothingness.
I guess you just have to trust your kids, trust that their innate interest in life will win out in the end, don’t you think?
A bad thing happened to you kids, Dad said. But it could have been worse.So much worse, Mom said.But because of you kids, Dad said, it wasn’t.You did so good, Mom said.Did beautiful, Dad said.
One of pleasures of parenting, future reader: parent can positively influence kid, make moment kid will remember for rest of life, moment that alters his/her trajectory, opens up his/her heart + mind.
Fiction is an urgent business. It is the Dying Us telling stories to the Dying Us, trying to crack the nonsense in our heads open with a big hammer pronto, before Death arrives.
. . . Absurdism was really just realism seen from close to the bottom.
Josh joined her at the window. She let him look. He should know that the world was not all lessons and iguanas and Nintendo. It was also this muddy simple boy tethered like an animal.
I wander cowboy sidewalks of wood, wearing a too-small hat, filled with remorse for the many lives I failed to lead.
When something really bad is going on in a culture, the average guy doesn’t see it. He can’t. He’s average. And is surrounded by and immersed in the cant and discourse of the status quo.
I took me to the Banks of the River, and tarried there awhile, as the lowering Sun made one with the Water, giving generously of Itself & its Diverse Colors, in a Splay of Magnificence that preceded a most wonderful Silence.
A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.
America, to me, should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but please, not just one droning glamourous reasonable voice.
Every step was a victory. He had to remember that.
A story is a really weird art object that should contain life but not be enslaved by the banality.
After that came her biggie: a triple murder–her dealer, the dealer’s sister, and the dealer’s sister’s boyfriend.Reading that made me feel a little funny that we’d fucked and I’d loved her.
I loved Monty Python for the wordplay–this sense that you didn’t have to squash your intelligence to be funny. In fact, you could walk right into your intelligence and nerdiness and self-doubt, and that could be funny.
Is this the baby?” I said.Ma turned on me again.”What do you think it is?” she said. “A midget that can’t talk?
Though firm, we are never too firm, though we love fun, we never have fun in a silly way that makes us appear ridiculous, unless that is our intent.
The thing about girls? Suzanne said. Is we are more content-driven.
He sent the trained dog that is his talent off in search of a fat glorious pheasant, and it brought back the lower half of a Barbie doll.
We try, we fail, we posture, we aspire, we pontificate – and then we age, shrink, die, and vanish.
A John Updike is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon, if that generation is lucky: so comfortable in so many genres, the same lively, generous intelligence suffusing all he did.
When I was a kid, I took ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘The Partridge Family’ very seriously. It was a world to me in the same way that the Greek myths would have been had I read them. You know, Marcia is Athena and Mr. Brady is Zeus.
Developing our sympathetic compassion is not only possible but the only reason for us to be here on earth.
I tend to foster drama via bleakness. If I want the reader to feel sympathy for a character, I cleave the character in half, on his birthday. And then it starts raining. And he’s made of sugar.
The word ‘funny’ is a bit like the word ‘love’ – we don’t have enough words to describe the many varieties.