Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid
On being a mom, a wife, and a writer.
On being a mom, a wife, and a writer.
“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.”
A profile of Pulitzer Prize- and Oscar-winning author Larry McMurtry.
“Things don’t just flow out of your brain. It’s not like, Hey, I’m brilliant. Show up, paper right here, bam, another banger. No—you sit and you struggle with yourself and you stop cutting your hair. I’m not cutting my hair right now. You stop shaving, like I’m not shaving right now. You remember that you can fail. I’ve failed several times. The fact that everybody else don’t see that don’t give me the right to not see it.”
An interview with the novelist.
“It’s odd, the older I get, the more I remember.”
“There are critics who see their job as to be on the side of the artist, or in a state of imaginative sympathy or alliance with the artist. I think it's important for a critic to be populist in the sense that we’re on the side of the public. I think one of the reasons is, frankly, capitalism. Whether you’re talking about restaurants or you’re talking about movies, you’re talking about large-scale commercial enterprises that are trying to sell themselves and market themselves and publicize themselves. A critic is, in a way, offering consumer advice.”
“She can write like a man, they said, by which they meant, She can write.”
“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.”
“What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life.”
How the prolific crime novelist did his work.
An interview with the author, who died Monday.
An interview with the novelist, who died on Saturday.
“There’s only one subject for fiction or poetry or even a joke: how it is. In all the arts, the payoff is always the same: recognition. If it works, you say that’s real, that’s truth, that’s life, that’s the way things are. ‘There it is.’”
A trip to Nashville to interview the writer Ann Patchett.
On Cheryl Strayed and why Wild became a hit.
The author on why he belives in God (“It makes things better”), the perils of writing high (“Annie Wilkes is cocaine, she was my number-one fan”) and what he thinks of other writers (“Hemingway sucks, basically”).
“I am having a moment, but I only want more. I need more. I cannot merely be good enough because I am chased by the pernicious whispers that I might only be ‘good enough for a black woman.’”
An essay on motivation.
An interview with Joan Didion.
“I come to America, I go to England, I go to France…nobody’s at risk. They’re afraid of getting cancer, losing a lover, losing their jobs, being insecure. … It’s only in my own country that I find people who voluntarily choose to put everything at risk—in their personal life.”
“But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs—anybody can have that—I mean in truth. That’s what I write. What it really is like. I’m just telling a very simple story.”
“A story is a kind of biopsy of human life.”
An interview with Philip Roth on his career, his critics, and his retirement, which he began by re-reading his 31 books to "see whether I’d wasted my time."
More from the Longform archive: writers on writing.
The art of shaping a magazine article.
INTERVIEWER: I imagine that people try to set you up as some sort of guru, whether political or metaphysical.
LESSING: I think people are always looking for gurus. It’s the easiest thing in the world to become a guru. It’s quite terrifying.