There is no bigger crime, in the English comic novel, than thinking you are right.
People with children will know this: when the childcare is over, it's over on the dot. You immediately have to go into child mode; there's no down time.
There is a kind of desperate need for somebody to tell everyone what to do, which I find really peculiar in America. And then when you tell them, they're not interested, because it's also a country where everybody's opinion is their opinion, and they really don't give a damn what you think. So it's a very odd experience.
Young people understand the world. They should be listened to on matters of politics and world organization. But they know nothing of their own lives.
If you asked me if I wanted more joyful experiences in my life, I wouldn't be at all sure I did, exactly because it proves such a difficult emotion to manage.
My life is black and white and mixed. My mother's a Rastafarian, my dad was a short white guy - it's not an affectation. It's also the lives of millions of people throughout the world.
I think of reading like a balanced diet; if your sentences are too baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka as roughage.
In my situation, every time I write a sentence, I'm thinking not only of the people I ended up in college with but my siblings, my family, my school friends, the people from my neighborhood. I've come to realize that this is an advantage, really: it keeps you on your toes.
I'm always a bit suspicious of writers who have the gift of the gab.
The utterly fallacious idea at the heart of the pro-war argument is that it is the duty of the anti-war argument to provide an alternative to war. The onus is on them to explain just cause.
There's constantly this melancholy about British hip-hop. People are always waiting for it to explode like American hip-hop, but it might just be that British hip-hop will always be as it is: an underground thing which will stay that way.
Don't romanticise your 'vocation.' You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no 'writer's lifestyle.' All that matters is what you leave on the page.
My feeling is, having lived in different classes, that people want equality of opportunity... that's the thing that makes me despair: the idea that people aren't given equality of opportunity.
You know, you don't expect everyone to be as educated as everyone else or have the same achievements, but you expect at least to be offered at least some of the opportunities, and libraries are the most simple and the most open way to give people access to books.
Nabokov, who I loved more than any other writer when I was young, had such contempt for dialogue. When I was younger, I never wrote a word of dialogue because of him. I thought it was a childish part of a novel.
It might be useful to distinguish between pleasure and joy. But maybe everybody does this very easily, all the time, and only I am confused.
Working with great writers can be humbling and frightening, but it can also change you for good, forever.
Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.
The conflation of the simple in style with the morally prescriptive in character, and the complex in style with the amoral or anarchic in character, seems to me one of the most persistently fallacious beliefs held by English students.
Oh yes, my generation liked to be in some pain when they read. The harder it was, the more good we believed it was doing us.
One thing you can't intend is how you will be read. I hear it said a lot that my books are about the 'search for identity', and this is said admiringly, as if I meant to encourage such a search.
Normally, young writers have all the time in the world and they don't always use it well.
Some people like just sitting down and being taken for a ride. That's a beautiful thing that fiction can do. But it's not the only thing. In television and film, people are ready to accept any kind of jump cut, but the slightest disturbance on the page ruffles their feathers.
I think I know a thing or two about the way people love, but I don't know anything about hatred, psychosis, cruelty. Or maybe I don't have the guts to admit that I do.
I can't add. I don't understand basic science. Or anything else. But I can read anything. I've always been able to, and I've always liked to. Even if I didn't understand it, I liked to.
When I think of the books I love, there's always a little laughter in the dark.
That's the thing about fiction writers: what seems alarming or particular or perverse about them is simply the shape of their brain - they cannot be otherwise.
I don't take notes. I don't have any notebooks. I keep on trying to do that because it seems like a very writerly thing to do, but my mind doesn't work that way. I tend to get the idea for a novel in a big splash.
Nowadays, I know the true reason I read is to feel less alone, to make a connection with a consciousness other than my own.
Unless you consider yourself some sort of human brand, which I don't, you have to deal with the fact that different people are going to like different aspects of your work. It's not consistent. I am not consistent. But I feel OK with that.
I want to write without shame or pride or over-compensation in one direction or another. To write freely.
It seems to me that we often commit ourselves wholly to something while knowing almost nothing concrete about it. Another word for that, I suppose, is 'faith.'
Books are not brands. Some people are very willing to see themselves as a brand, but you can't be a certain type of writer to a certain type of person all the time. It will kill you.
I noticed in America that if you write a book of any kind, you're made to be the representative of all the issues that might surround it.
A lot of people seem to feel that joy is only the most intense version of pleasure, arrived at by the same road - you simply have to go a little further down the track. That has not been my experience.
Like all readers, I want my limits to be drawn by my own sensibilities, not by my melanin count.
I suppose I often think of my writing as quite impersonal. But it turned out, when my father died, writing was exactly what I wanted to do.
If you love a young writer, maybe the best thing you can do is give them a little bit of space.
If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein, and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made.
Life's not a video game, Felix- there aren't a certain number of points that send you to the next level. There isn't actually any next level. The bad news is that everybody dies at the end. Game Over.