The music wasn't going to happen, and I realized I had read so little. I didn't know my way around any century. I was very under read.
That was the problem with reading: you always had to pick up again at the very thing that had made you stop reading the day before.
I was very shy and somewhat awkward. I studied too hard. And to have this exciting dorm life was a whole new thing.
So I really began as a failed poet - although when I first wanted to be a writer, I learned to write prose by reading poetry.
It's true that I don't rearrange that much in the fiction, but I feel if you change even one name or the order of one event then you have to call it fiction or you get all the credits of non-fiction without paying the price.
I keep thinking I'll enjoy suspense novels, and sometimes I do. I've read about 20 Dick Francis novels.
There is no good word for stomach; just as there is no good word for girlfriend. Stomach is to girlfriend as belly is to lover, and as abdomen is to consort, and as middle is to petite amie.
Most writers are secretly worried that they're not really writers. That it's all been happenstance, something came together randomly, the letters came together, and they won't coalesce ever again.
People don't like to read text on computer screens (and reading a lot of text on iPod screens gets very tiring very soon, just about as soon as running out of battery power).
Sometimes I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I'd be turned into a mist and I would rematerialize in the room of the person I'm talking to. Is that too odd for you?
The question any novel is really trying to answer is, Is life worth living?
If you write every day, you're going to write a lot of things that aren't terribly good, but you're going to have given things a chance to have their moments of sprouting.
I prefer reading e-books on a high resolution LCD screen - like the iPod Touch's - although the pixel density could and should be much higher.
The function of a great library is to store obscure books.
You almost believe that you will never come to the end of a roll of tape; and when you do, there is a feeling, nearly, though very briefly, of shock and grief.
I've always thought of myself as shy,
I wanted to apprentice myself to the dailiness of the war's beginning phase. It's truer and more frightening that way - when you're afloat on a little dingy in the midst of it all.
In my case, adulthood itself was not an advance, although it was a useful waymark.
Updike was the first to take the penile sensorium under the wing of elaborate metaphorical prose.
Shoes are the first adult machines we are given to master.
History isn't a seesaw. If you have a really bad regime on one side, the actions on the other side don't automatically become good. It doesn't work that way.
But spending your life concentrating on death is like watching a whole movie and thinking only about the credits that are going to roll at the end. It's a mistake of emphasis.
Haven't you felt a peculiar sort of worry about the chair in your living room that no one sits in?
Printed books usually outlive bookstores and the publishers who brought them out. They sit around, demanding nothing, for decades. That's one of their nicest qualities - their brute persistence.
As soon as you start doing that - changing things - it seems self-evident to me that you've entered the world of make-believe. If you pretend that it's true, and use your own name, you are misleading people. Fiction is looser and wilder and sometimes in the end more self-revealing, anyway.
I would like to visit the factory that makes train horns, and ask them how they are able to arrive at that chord of eternal mournfulness. Is it deliberately sad? Are the horns saying, Be careful, stay away from this train or it will run you over and then people will grieve, and their grief will be as the inconsolable wail of this horn through the night? The out-of-tuneness of the triad is part of its beauty.
Books: a beautifully browsable invention that needs no electricity and exists in a readable form no matter what happens.
I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.
Most good novelists have been women or homosexuals. The novel is the triumphant evolved creation, one increasingly has to think, of these two groups, who have cooperated more closely in this domain than in any other.
True, the name of the product wasn't so great. Kindle? It was cute and sinister at the same time - worse than Edsel, or Probe, or Microsoft's Bob. But one forgives a bad name. One even comes to be fond of a bad name, if the product itself is delightful.
There's a time and place for the Kindle, and I own one now and have books on it that I don't otherwise have. But I don't find that my hand reaches out for it the way it does for a trade paperback, or (in the middle of the night) for the iPod Touch.
The nice thing about a protest song is that it takes the complaint, the fussing, the finger-pointing, and gives it an added component of sociable harmony.
The great thing about novels is that you can be as unshy as you want to be. I'm very polite in person. I don't want to talk about startling or upsetting things with people.
There's something paralyzing about being a writer that you have to escape. I don't want to think of myself as a guy who's written a bunch of books. The 26 letters distance us from our own hesitations and they make us sound as if we know what we're doing. We know grammar, we know prose, but actually we're all just struggling in the dark, really.
One's head is finite. You pour more and more things into it - surnames, chronologies, affiliations - and it packs them away in its tunnels, and eventually you find that you have a book about something that you publish.
Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.
I think I am done with Wikipedia for the time being. But I have a secret hope. Someone recently proposed a Wikimorgue - a bin of broken dreams where all rejects could still be read, as long as they weren't libelous or otherwise illegal.
I'm suspicious of full-replacement programs - that is, pronouncements that one way of doing something will entirely supplant another, and that in fact we have to hurry the replacement along.
I really practiced hard and got to a certain level of technical proficiency. I overcame some of my limitations. I was a hard-working, dedicated bassoonist, but I have to say I'm not a natural musician.
I like shelves full of books in a library, but if all books become electronic, the task of big research libraries remains the same - keep what's published in the form in which it appeared.