"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."
"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."
"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.’"
"It’s difficult to tell the truth about how a book begins. The truth, as far as it can be presented to other people, is either wholly banal or too intimate."
"I wouldn’t write about people who are living and who are close to me, because I think it’s a very violent thing to do to another person. And anytime I have done it, even in the disguise of fiction, the results have been horrific."
"I read Carver. Julio Cortazar. Amis’s essays. Baldwin. Lorrie Moore. Capote. Saramago. Larkin. Wodehouse. Anything, anything at all, that doesn’t sound like me."
"I just can’t get used to the idea of being somebody unreal in people’s minds. I can’t live my life like that. And it’s just anathema to being a writer. It’s not healthy."
"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."
"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."
"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."