The Myth of Self-Reliance
An encounter with Emerson’s essays.
An encounter with Emerson’s essays.
An interview with the writer and Nobel laureate.
On calling off a wedding, and studying whooping cranes.
“Anytime I was called a New Journalist I winced a little with embarrassment.”
“The ‘hard’–science fiction writers dismiss everything except, well, physics, astronomy, and maybe chemistry. Biology, sociology, anthropology—that’s not science to them, that’s soft stuff. They’re not that interested in what human beings do, really. But I am. I draw on the social sciences a great deal. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼I get a lot of ideas from them, particularly from anthropology. When I create another planet, another world, with a society on it, I try to hint at the complexity of the society I’m creating, instead of just referring to an empire or something like that.”
“There has to be some pleasure in this job, and that’s it. To go around in disguise. To act a character. To pass oneself off as what one is not. To pretend.”
A love letter and the jacked up emotions of reality TV.
The real question is this: can I love the art but hate the artist? Can you? When I say we, I mean I. I mean you.
I don’t think there’s anything that I’m not afraid of, on some level. But if you mean, What are we afraid of, as humans? Chaos. The outsider. We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of disruption, and that is what I’m interested in.”
"I’m not familiar with books on style. My role in the revival of Strunk’s book was a fluke—just something I took on because I was not doing anything else at the time. It cost me a year out of my life, so little did I know about grammar."
“We take it that all young writers overestimate their work. It’s impossible not to—I mean if you recognized what shit you were writing, you wouldn’t write it. You have to believe in your stuff—every day has to be the new day on which the new poem may be it.”
A conversation with the anonymous novelist.
“The final evaluation of a play has nothing to do with immediate audience or critical response. The playwright, along with any writer, composer, painter in this society, has got to have a terribly private view of his own value, of his own work. He's got to listen to his own voice primarily. He's got to watch out for fads, for what might be called the critical aesthetics.”
“You try to learn as much about the people as you can. I try never to give psychohistory. There is no one truth, but there are an awful lot of objective facts. The more facts you get, the more facts you collect, the closer you come to whatever truth there is. The base of biography has to be facts.”
“I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it.”
On adolescence, pen pals, and the Manson girls.
We have a rich literature. But sometimes it’s a literature too ready to be neutralized, to be incorporated into the ambient noise. This is why we need the writer in opposition, the novelist who writes against power, who writes against the corporation or the state or the whole apparatus of assimilation. We’re all one beat away from becoming elevator music.
An interview with the novelist.
A story of blame.
“People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I’ll never see it again.”
Memories of living with the writer Andrew Lytle late in his life.
“I tell them it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
On Taylor Swift’s passive-aggressive lyrics, the life of the writer, and the pain of middle school.
The role of black dolls in American culture.
An interview with the author, who died Monday.