“There is a strange and abiding prestige, a strange and abiding cultural juice that comes from being a writer. Having seen the reality of it, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”
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“I knew I felt released after writing the novel, but I could never quite articulate it. And I think it was that – the shame that many abused people have to face down – I had done it in writing the novel.”
“Now we’re both feeling shame, and I’ve panicked and stolen a Faulkner word. Maybe this is how poetry happens.”
“By pushing sentences, words, ideas, images, around on a page…we are trying to cut through the chatter, to recognize what is true.”
“We all want to write the perfect novel. And then our own imperfect, messy, inadequate selves get in the way.”
“Keep your butt in the chair. I’ve received plenty of advice over the years, but I think this has been the most helpful. And stay away from adjectives.”
“I always start with the notion that I am going to write a short story. I don’t mind writing a novel, but I never set out to write one.”
“Having two parents who don’t love each other is like having your blood and your skin not get along.”
“Literature took me…to places where people overcome their limitations, and to places where they don’t. The latter may be the most important way literature engages us, reminding us of our common humanity.”
Historian and publisher of the renascent Baffler magazine, John H. Summers has not exactly taken a direct route to heading a publication whose significance he compares to Dwight Macdonald’s mid-century journal, Politics.
“Writing, for me, is the daily practice of empathy. Reading should be a practice of empathizing too. Each time we step into another person’s world view, we broaden who we are as people.”
“The best is when you start narrating your own life in the voice of a book in which you’ve recently lost yourself.”
Luminarium is a book brimming with ideas…To get Alex talking about it, I tried using an unorthodox interview structure.