"I think of the people on reality shows, on Dr. Phil and MTV. And I think maybe they aren’t bad people. They aren’t cartoons. They’re just children, most of them, kids who never got to grow up before life dropped something gruesome in their laps. I consider this, then I consider Lori and me, and I thank God for the small kindness of timing."
— From David James Poissant’s story, “Monkey See,” in the Spring 2013 Ploughshares.
"I learned to write fiction the way I learned to read fiction - by skipping the parts that bored me. "
— ― Jonathan Lethem (via thetinhouse)
Please consider the words: ‘do you remember.’ They mean everything.
‘Do you remember’ is the game sweethearts and friends play, and strangers from the same college who meet at the bus stop. Married people lead a life of it, I guess: do you remember our meeting, our courting, our parting. There is something so personal and lovely and casual in that line.
It was something that no one had said to me for fifty years.
— Elizabeth McCracken, from her story, “The Goings-On of the World”
"Listen: don’t tell me otherwise. It was not nice love, it was not good love, but you cannot tell me that it wasn’t love. Love is not oxygen, though many songwriters will tell you that it is; it is not a chemical substance that is either definitively present or absent; it cannot be reduced to its parts. It is not like a flower, or an animal, or anything that you will ever be able to recognize when you see it. Love is food. That’s all. Neither better nor worse. Sometimes very good. Sometimes terrible. But to say—as people will—that wasn’t love. As though that makes you feel better! Well, it might have been bad for me, but it sustained me for a while."
Elizabeth McCracken, from her short story, “Some Terpischore”
"When the phone rang she did not look at it the way they do in the movies. Real people don’t look at ringing phones."
DeLillo, in The Body Artist
"There is a time for multi-tasking and a time for losing yourself. The short story offers something else: a chance to pay close attention—and have that attention rewarded because, for once, every little plot twist, every sentence, counts."
— Our editor Lorin Stein on the state of the short story for Publishers Weekly. (via theparisreview)
"I don’t understand the novel. How do you keep everything a novel requires in your head? A friend of mine was about three-fourths done with her novel when she realized she had two characters named Bob in it. That’s the kind of thing that would happen to me."
Amy Hempel, in an interview with Paris Review (2003).
"I am simply not interested, at this point, in creating narrative scenes between characters. Maybe I’m shying away from a certain artificiality that I perceive to be present in many such scenes as written."
— Lydia Davis, in an interview with The Believer.
"The detective is one who looks, who listens, who moves through this morass of objects and events in search of the thought, the idea that will pull all these things together and make sense of them. In effect, the writer and the detective are interchangeable."
— Paul Auster, City of Glass
"It didn’t occur to me that my books would be widely read at all, and that enabled me to write anything I wanted to. And even once I realized that they were being read, I still wrote as if I were writing in secret. That’s how one has to write anyway—in secret."
Louise Erdrich, in her 2010 Paris Review interview.
"If serious reading dwindles to near nothingness, it will probably mean that the thing we’re talking about when we use the word ‘identity’ has reached an end."
— Don DeLillo, in a letter to Jonathan Franzen (around 1996).
"You were at an age where you could fall in love with a girl over an expression, a gesture. That’s what happened with your girlfriend Paloma — she stooped to pick up her purse, and your heart flew out of you."
— From Junot Diaz’s new short story, “Miss Lora” (The New Yorker, April 23, 2012).
"When I’m having trouble writing something, I often close the document and compose the passage as email. I can feel the tug of the recipient at the other end of the wire, and this creates in me a certain pressure, an urgency. The letter always arrives at its destination."
— David Shields, from the LA Review of Books essay, “Life is Short; Art is Shorter“