I like people a lot, but I am not comfortable in literary New York situations. There is deep anxiety and tension around success here. I don't share problems I'm having about my work, and I think conversations around publishing are boring.
I got a gerontology certificate a million years ago along with my law degree, so I've been interested in older people for many years. Some people grow up with a lot of kids around, but I just grew up with a lot of old people.
My parents were very, very, very strict.
I think, really, that the only way a person can open their heart to someone who is so much another is really by knowing them... whether that's in a classroom, or a soccer team, or a food pantry, or any of those things. I mean, we're kind of more alike than we are different.
Oh, I do a tremendous amount of rewriting. I just obsessively rewrite. Although sometimes there are sections, sometimes you're just lucky and a paragraph will just kind of come out. And that's great. But that's not ordinary in a day's work.
I grew up on a dirt road in Maine, and pretty much everybody on that dirt road was related to me, and they were old. And so grumpy.
I don't know if I have a memory of not thinking I was a writer - it goes that far back. I went to law school because I didn't know how to earn a living otherwise. I tried to ignore the pull, but it wouldn't let me.
I love the comfort of daily life's routines: things like being able to read a paper on the subway. It's no accident that my favourite word is 'quotidian.'
In the kind of New England I'm from, you are expected to stay and marry somebody from New England - well, Maine, actually - so I think it was seen as a betrayal when I left for New York, which has been my refuge.
I sometimes miss the sense of excitement that I remember having when I was younger. I miss that sense of, 'Oh wow.' I think it's part of aging.
'Pnin' by Vladimir Nabokov, which is a literally small book, fit right in my common law book. I would sit in class and read it.
I don't think of myself as a fast reader. I just read a lot. When someone else might think, 'I might do the dishes,' I don't. But then the dishes multiply.
I was a pretty terrible lawyer. A really, really terrible lawyer.
I don't ever really know where I get my characters from.
I don't think there's anybody I write about who I don't care for deeply in some way, no matter what their behavior is.
I'm drawn to New England because that's where my roots are, and I miss it. I come from many generations of New Englanders, and so, in my writing, I've been drawn back there to the landscape and the light and the type of personality that's revealed.
I'm so deeply interested in what it feels like to be other people that I get to operate under the illusion when I'm writing fiction that I'm not really revealing that much about myself. But, of course, I am, and I know that I am. And yet there's this sort of membrane that I get to work behind as I write my fiction, and I love it.
As a novelist, I like the contained drama and complexity of the courtroom, though I don't watch those shows on TV. I prefer the hospital shows because I wanted to be a doctor.
The purpose of fiction is not to make people seem nice. What makes anyone think people are nice? Look around you!
I've always been tremendously interested in criminal law. It goes to a deep interest I have in prisons and the criminal element, and what we do as a society with it. I've always been touched by the idea of criminality.
I'm writing for my ideal reader, for somebody who's willing to take the time, who's willing to get lost in a new world, who's willing to do their part. But then I have to do my part and give them a sound and a voice that they believe in enough to keep going.
I don't especially like to travel, not the way many people do. I know many people that love to go to far-off and different places, and I've never been like that. I seem to get homesick as quickly as a child.
For years I did most of my reading on the F train between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I had long commutes, and I read tons of books on that train; I loved it.
Oh, I wish I organized my books. But I don't. I'm not an organized person. The best I can do is put the books I really like in one sort of general area, and poetry in another.
I would hope that my readers feel a sense of awe at the quality of human endurance, at the endurance of love in the face of a variety of difficulties; that the quotidian life is not always easy, and is something worthy of respect.
The facts didn't matter. Their stories mattered, and each of their stories belonged to each of them alone.
The appetites of the body were private battles.
Traits don't change, states of mind do.
I have to pay attention to what I have felt and observed, then push these responses to an extreme while keeping the story within the realm of being psychologically and emotionally true.
People like to think the younger generation's job is to steer the world to hell. But it's never true, is it? They're hopeful and good - and that's how it should be.
The key to contentment was to never ask why; she had learned that long ago.
And it was too late. No one wants to believe something is too late, but it is always becoming too late, and then it is.
You surely know that in the course of a long marriage it is not unusual for a husband or a wife to develop a crush on someone else.
You have family", Bob said. "You have a wife who hates you. Kids who are furious with you. A brother and sister who make you insane. And a nephew who used to be kind of a drip but apparently is not so much of a drip now. That's called family".
Sometimes, like now, Olive had a sense of just how desperately hard every person in the world was working to get what they needed. For most, it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became. (211)
In a way, I'm very interested in writing about Maine, because I think Maine represents its own kind of history. It's the oldest state, and it's the whitest state.
I actually see myself in all my characters. In order to imagine what it feels like to be another person I have to use my own experiences and responses to the world.
I'm so interested in the fact that we really don't know anybody. We think we know the people close to us, but we don't, we really don't.
There were days - she could remember this - when Henry would hold her hand as they walked home, middle-aged people, in their prime. Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it. But she had that memory now, of something healthy and pure.
You couldn't make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn't go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.