America is a younger country than England, obviously, and as self-awareness is forming in America - are we a collection of immigrants, are we a load of Italians and Germans and Jews and Brits and Irish, or are we a country with a soul and an identity? - there was a subliminal sense, they knew that the writers would be the ones who would answer those questions.
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The trouble with life is its amorphousness, its ridiculous fluidity. Look at it: thinly plotted, largely themeless, sentimental and ineluctably trite. The dialogue is poor, or at least violently uneven. The twists are either predictable or sensationalist. And it's always the same beginning, and the same ending.
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In her final months [Princess] Diana was being shat upon by the tabloids -- basically for sleeping with an Arab. When she died, these same papers were astonished by the millennial wave of emotionalism that swept the country ... [One paper] had a print-ready story about what a slag the Princess was, and they had to pull it at the last moment. It was replaced with an image of Diana as an angel, ascending to heaven.
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It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that the world is there to be celebrated by writers, and in fact this is what all the good ones do, and that the great fashion for gloom and grimness was in fact a false path that certain writers took, I think in response to the horrors of the first half of the twentieth century.
How incredibly avaricious the whole operation was, the way they made the Jews pay for their tickets in the railway cars to the death camps. Yeah, and the rates for a third-class ticket, one way. And half price for children.... It was a kind of exploration of evil. Just how bad can we get?
Who's straight? I'm not. I am bent gouged pinched and tugged at, and squeezed into this funny shape. Each life is a game of chess that went to hell on the seventh move, and now the flukey play is cramped and slow, a dream of constraint and cross-purpose, with each move forced, all pieces pinned and skewered and zugzwanged... But here and there we see these figures who appear to run on the true lines, and they are terrible examples. They're rich, usually.
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I used to think there was no time like the present. I used to think there was no time but the present. Now I know better-or different, anyway. In the end, the past will always be there. The past is all there is: the present never sticks around for long enough, and the future is anybody's guess. In time, you always have to hand it to the past. It always gets you in the end.
I am easily moved to tears and rarely survive a visit to the cinema without shedding them, racked, as I am, by the most perfunctory, meretricious or even callously sentimental attempts at poignancy (something about the exterior of the human face, so vast and palpable, with the eyes and the lips: it is all writ too large for me, too immediate for me.)
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The trouble with life (the novelist will feel) is its amorphousness, its ridiculous fluidity. Look at it: thinly plotted, largely themeless, sentimental and ineluctably trite. The dialogue is poor, or at least violently uneven. The twists are either predictable or sensationalist. And it's always the same beginning, and the same ending.
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Perche piangono gli uomini? Per colpa delle lotte e delle gesta e della maratona delle promozioni, perche vogliono la mamma, perche restano ciechi anche col passar del tempo, per colpa di tutte le erezioni che debbono inventarsi sul pie¹ bello dal nulla, per colpa di tutto cie² che hanno fatto. Perche non possono pie¹ essere felici o tristi - solo sbronzi o pazzi. E perche non sanno che pesci pigliare quando sono svegli. E poi c'e¨ l'informazione, che arriva di notte.
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I peer through the spectral, polluted, nicotine-sodden windows of my sock at these old lollopers in their kiddie gear. Go home, I say. Go home, lie down, and eat lots of potatoes. I had three handjobs yesterday. None was easy. Sometimes you really have to buckle down to it, as you do with all forms of exercise. It's simply a question of willpower. Anyone who's got the balls to stand there and tell me that a handjob isn't exercise just doesn't know what he's talking about. I almost had a heart-attack during number three. I take all kinds of other exercise too. I walk up and down the stairs. I climb into cabs and restaurant booths. I hike to the Butcher's Arms and the London Apprentice. I cough a lot. I throw up pretty frequently, which really takes it out of you. I sneeze, and hit the tub and the can. I get in and out of bed, often several times a day.
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You know, I wouldn't have done this a month ago. I wouldn't have done it then. Then I was avoiding. Now I'm just waiting. Things happen to me. They do. They have to go ahead and happen. You watch - you wait... Things still happen here and something is waiting to happen to me. I can tell. Recently my life feels like a bloodcurdling joke. Recently my life has taken on form Something is waiting. I am waiting. Soon, it will stop waiting - any day now. Awful things can happen any time. This is the awful thing.
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Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favorite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn't show you your reflection. It showed you your soul-it showed you who you really were. The wizard couldn't look at it without turning away. The king couldn't look at it. The courtiers couldn't look at it. A chestful of treasure was offered to anyone who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away. And no one could.
A writer's life is half ambition and half anxiety, and there has to be both. It is no good writing a novel and feeling fine, and it is no good writing a whole novel feeling miserable. It has to be both, that mixture of anxiety and ambition, and you get that with every novel, but more so when you write about these epics of human suffering. I felt that just as much when I wrote about the Gulag. Every writer knows what that is. The process goes... you have to think: 'This novel I am writing is no good.' Then you have to think: 'All my novels are no good.' And then, when you reach that point, you can begin.
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It takes three or four years before the present day sinks in to you as a novelist. It has not just to be accepted in the mind but travel down your spine and fill your body and you can't respond immediately to immediate events, there is this incubation period. Source: http:www.euronews.com/2013/06/25/ma...
It used to be said, not so long ago, that every suicide gave Satan special pleasure. I don't think that's true-unless it isn't true either that the Devil is a gentleman. If the Devil has no class at all, then okay, I agree: He gets a bang out of suicide. Because suicide is a mess. As a subject for study, suicide is perhaps uniquely incoherent. And the act itself is without shape and without form. The human project implodes, contorts inward-shameful, infantile, writhing, gesturing. It's a mess in there.
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You never can tell, though, with suicide notes, can you? In the planetary aggregate of all life, there are many more suicide notes than there are suicides. They're like poems in that respect, suicide notes: nearly everyone tries their hand at them some time, with or without the talent. We all write them in our heads. Usually the note is the thing. You complete it, and then resume your time travel. It is the note and not the life that is cancelled out. Or the other way round. Or death. You never can tell, though, can you, with suicide notes.
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Why couldn't Rachel be a little more specific about the type of person she was? Goodness knew; if she were a hippie I'd talk to her about her drug experiences, the zodiac, tarot cards. If she were left-wing I'd look miserable, hate Greece, and eat baked beans straight from the tin. If she were the sporty type I'd play her at... chess and backgammon and things.
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I attended a breakfast meeting with Fielding... half way through... the cork of nausea abruptly popped in my throat. I only just made it to the adjacent can, which was large and acoustical; my imitation of an exploding hippopotamus came through the closed door in full quadraphonic. I got one or two funny glances on my return..and if I were them, I'd enjoy the spectacle. It does my poor ticker good to see someone really totalled.
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September 11 was a day of de-Enlightenment. Politics stood revealed as a veritable Walpurgis Night of the irrational. And such old, old stuff. The conflicts we now face or fear involve opposed geographical arenas, but also opposed centuries or even millennia. It is a landscape of ferocious anachronisms: nuclear jihad in the Indian subcontinent; the medieval agonism of Islam; the Bronze Age blunderings of the Middle East.
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Dickens is a much misunderstood and mis-approached writer, in that he tends to be read, particularly in the twentieth century, as a social commentator - like the great Victorians, a realist in his way. But he isn't at all like that. His genre is actually more like a fairy tale - weird transformations, long voyages from which people come back altered, parental mysteries, semi-magical twists.
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When things are going well, you do have the sense that what you're writing is being fed to you in some way. Auden compared writing a poem to cleaning an old piece of slate until the letters appear. The only way you could reveal your god is perhaps under hypnosis. It's sacred and it's secret, even to the writer.
Amis is acutely, vibrantly sensitive to the different registers of laughter. He knows that it can be the most affirming and uniquely human sound, and also the most sinister and animalistic one. He understands every note of every octave that separates the liberating shout of mirth from the cackle of a bully or the snigger of a sadist.
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It's been said that happiness writes white. It doesn't show up on the page. When you're on holiday and writing a letter home to a friend, no one wants a letter that says the food is good and the weather is charming and the accommodations comfortable. You want to hear about lost passports and rat-filled shacks.
For both of us, I think, it had to do with our weakened power to love. It is strange that enslavement should have that effect "" not just the fantastic degradation, not just the fear and the boredom and all the rest, but also the layered injustice, the silent injustice. So all right. We're back where we started. To you, nothing "" from you, everything. They took it from me, it seems, for no reason, other than that I value it so much.
The thing is that I am a member of that sad, ever-dwindling minority... the child of an unbroken home. I have carried this albatross since the age of eleven, when I started at grammar school. Not a day would pass without somebody I knew turning out to be adopted or illegitimate, or to have mothers who were about to hare off with some bloke, or to have dead fathers and shabby stepfathers. What busy lives they led. How I envied their excuses for introspection, their ear-marked receptacles for every just antagonism and noble loyalty.
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Jane was my wicked stepmother: she was generous, affectionate and resourceful; she salvaged my schooling and I owe her an unknowable debt for that. One flaw: sometimes, early on, she would tell me things designed to make me think less of my mother, and I would wave her away, saying, 'Jane, this just backfires and makes me think less of you.'
People? People are chaotic quiddities living in one cave each. They pass the hours in amorous grudge and playback and thought experiment. At the campfire they put the usual fraction on exhibit, and listen to their own silent gibber about how they're feeling and how they're going down. We've been there. Death helps. Death gives us something to do. Because it's a fulltime job looking the other way.
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