In all memory there is a degree of fallenness; we are all exiles from our own pasts, just as, on looking up from a book, we discover anew our banishment from the bright worlds of imagination and fantasy. A cross-channel ferry, with its overfilled ashtrays and vomiting children, is as good a place as any to reflect on the angel who stands with a flaming sword in front of the gateway to all our yesterdays.
Before the magisterial mess of Trevor Thomas's house, the orderly houses that most of us live in seem meagre and lifeless - as, in the same way, the narratives called biographies pale and shrink in the face of the disorderly actuality that is a life. The house also stirred my imagination as a metaphor for the problem of writing. Each person who sits down to write faces not a blank page but his own overfilled mind. The problem is to clear out most of what is in it... The goal is to make a space where a few ideas and images and feelings may be so arranged that a reader will want to linger awhile among them, rather than to flee, as I wanted to flee from Thomas's house.