I think people do look to writers to tell the truth in a way that nobody else quite will, not politicians or ministers or sociologists. A writer's job, is to, by way of fiction, somehow describe the way we live. And to me, this seems an important task, very worth doing, and I think also, to the reading public, it seems, even though they might not articulate it, it seems to them something worth doing also.
Seemed to me important in writing about people to be able to describe the sexual transactions between them. It's - for many people it's the height of, what they see, of ecstasy and poetry is in their sexual encounters. And furthermore, personality - human personality does not end in the bedroom, but persists.
When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but to a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teen-aged boy finding them, and having them speak to him. The review, the stacks in Brentano's, are just hurdles to get over, to place the books on that shelf.
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When we try in good faith to believe in materialism, in the exclusive reality of the physical, we are asking our selves to step aside; we are disavowing the very realm where we exist and where all things precious are kept - the realm of emotion and conscience, of memory and intention and sensation.
Dollars had once gathered like autumn leaves on the wooden collection plates; dollars were the flourishing sign of God's specifically American favor, made manifest in the uncountable millions of Carnegie and Mellon and Henry Ford and Catholina Lambert. But amid this fabled plenty the whiff of damnation had cleared of dollars and cents the parched ground around Clarence Wilmot.
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In the purifying sweep of atheism human beings lost all special value. The numb misery of the horse was matched by that of the farmer; the once-green ferny lives crushed into coal's fossiliferous strata were no more anonymous and obliterated than Clarence's own life would soon be, in a wink of earth's tremendous time. Without Biblical blessing the physical universe became sherry horrible and disgusting. All fleshy acts became vile, rather than merely some. The reality of men slaying lambs and cattle, fish and fowl to sustain their own bodies took on an aspect of grisly comedy-the blood-soaked selfishness of a cosmic mayhem.
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