Philip Roth:”Fluency can be a sign that nothing is happening”

INTERVIEWER

How much of a book is in your mind before you start?

philiproth

ROTH-

What matters most isn’t there at all. I don’t mean the solutions to problems, I mean the problems themselves. You’re looking, as you begin, for what’s going to resist you. You’re looking for trouble. Sometimes in the beginning uncertainty arises not because the writing is difficult, but because it isn’t difficult enough. Fluency can be a sign that nothing is happening; fluency can actually be my signal to stop, while being in the dark from sentence to sentence is what convinces me to go on.

Source : https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2957/philip-roth-the-art-of-fiction-no-84-philip-roth

Advertisements

Cormac McCarthy:”My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven”

Q: How does the notion of aging and death affect the work you do? Has it become more urgent?

gipko2_2

CM: Your future gets shorter and you recognize that. In recent years, I have had no desire to do anything but work and be with [son] John. I hear people talking about going on a vacation or something and I think, what is that about? I have no desire to go on a trip. My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold and anything else is just a waste of time.

Source : https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704576204574529703577274572

Kazuo Ishiguro: “one of the things that’s interested me always is how we live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time”

Q: I suppose what you have been writing about all this time, in a way, is that question of our place in the world, our connection to each other, our connection with the world. That is perhaps the theme you explore the most, do you think?

kazuo-ishiguro

KI: Yes, I would say so, I mean I think … If I could put it a little bit more narrowly that that, I mean it’s probably … one of the things that’s interested me always is how we live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time, that we have a personal arena in which we have to try and find fulfilment and love. But that inevitably intersects with a larger world, where politics, or even dystopian universes, can prevail. So I think I’ve always been interested in that. We live in small worlds and big worlds at the same time and we can’t, you know, forget one or the other.

“Promotion is expensive”: Elena Ferrante on anonymity

Elena Ferrante’s determination to remain out of the public eye has been a source of fascination for the media and her readers. On 21 September 1991, immediately prior to the publication of her debut novel (translated in English as Troubling Love), she wrote to her Italian publisher Sandra Ozzola, confirming and clarifying her position.
mystery woman
Dear Sandra,
During the meeting I had recently with you and your husband [Sandro Ferri, co-founder and publisher of Edizioni EO], which was very enjoyable, you asked me what I intend to do for the promotion of Troubling Love (it’s good that you’re getting me used to calling the book by its final title). You asked the question ironically, with one of your bemused expressions. At the moment, I didn’t have the courage to answer you: I thought I had already been clear with Sandro; he had said that he absolutely agreed with my decision, and I hoped that he wouldn’t return to the subject, even jokingly. Now I’m answering in writing, which eliminates pauses, uncertainties, any possibility of compliance.
I do not intend to do anything for Troubling Love, anything that might involve the public engagement of me personally. I’ve already done enough for this long story: I wrote it. If the book is worth anything, that should be sufficient. I won’t participate in discussions and conferences, if I’m invited. I won’t go and accept prizes, if any are awarded to me. I will never promote the book, especially on television, not in Italy or, as the case may be, abroad. I will be interviewed only in writing, but I would prefer to limit even that to the indispensable minimum. I am absolutely committed in this sense to myself and my family. I hope not to be forced to change my mind. I understand that this may cause some difficulties at the publishing house. I have great respect for your work, I liked you both immediately, and I don’t want to cause trouble. If you no longer mean to support me, tell me right away, I’ll understand. It’s not at all necessary for me to publish this book. To explain all the reasons for my decision, is, as you know, hard for me. I will only tell you that it’s a small bet with myself, with my convictions. I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t. There are plenty of examples. I very much love those mysterious volumes, both ancient and modern, that have no definite author but have had and continue to have an intense life of their own. They seem to me a sort of nighttime miracle, like the gifts of the Befana, which I waited for as a child. I went to bed in great excitement and in the morning I woke up and the gifts were there, but no one had seen the Befana. True miracles are the ones whose makers will never be known; they are the very small miracles of the secret spirits of the home or the great miracles that leave us truly astonished. I still have this childish wish for marvels, large or small, I still believe in them.
Therefore, dear Sandra, I will say to you clearly: if Troubling Love does not have, in itself, thread enough to weave, well, it means that you and I were mistaken; if, on the other hand, it does, the thread will be woven where it can be, and we will have only to thank the readers for their patience in taking it by the end and pulling.
Besides, isn’t it true that promotion is expensive? I will be the least expensive author of the publishing house. I’ll spare you even my presence.
Warmly, Elena

James Dickey : One of the difficulties in writing poetry is to maintain your sense of excitement

INTERVIEWER

How can a young poet know if his work is really worthwhile?

m-530

image source : internet

DICKEY

You never know that. I don’t know it; Robert Lowell doesn’t know it; John Berryman didn’t know it; and Shakespeare probably didn’t know it. There’s never any final certainty about what you do. Your opinion of your own work fluctuates wildly. Under the right circumstances you can pick up something that you’ve written and approve of it; you’ll think it’s good and that nobody could have done exactly the same thing. Under different circumstances, you’ll look at exactly the same poem and say, “My Lord, isn’t that boring.” The most important thing is to be excited about what you are doing and to be working on something that you think will be the greatest thing that ever was. One of the difficulties in writing poetry is to maintain your sense of excitement and discovery about what you write. American literature is full of people who started off excited about poetry and their own contribution to it and their own relationship to poetry and have had, say, a modicum of success and have just gone on writing poetry as a kind of tic, a sort of reflex, when they’ve lost all their original excitement and enthusiasm for what they do. They do it because they have learned to do it, and that’s what they do. You have to find private stratagems to keep up your original enthusiasm, no matter what it takes. As you get older, that’s tougher and tougher to do. You want to try to avoid, if you possibly can, the feeling of doing it simply because you can do it.

Source:  https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3741/james-dickey-the-art-of-poetry-no-20-james-dickey

Wislawa szymborska : some tragedies can’t be talk with a sense of humour

Q: Some of your poems are pessimistic about the state of the world. You have no children: Is the future too gloomy for children?

2. Festiwal Czes³awa Mi³osza w Krakowie

image source : internet

Wislawa : Actually I would like to know how many people there were in the world when I was born, and how many there are now. I suspect the number has doubled. This is something of great concern for me. A small example. I was born in a little town close to Poznan and there was a big lake there. People went fishing, you could take a boat and sail. Now this lake is tiny. Weeds grow in it. It is going to dry up. And if you think about how many such lakes dry up in the world–and there are always more and more people–then you start having thoughts that aren’t very pleasant.

There are people who say, “Let more people be born, because the earth can sustain them all.” I don’t agree with that. We all know how many people die of malnutrition and diseases that should be extinct. I cannot talk about these things with a sense of humor.

source : http://articles.latimes.com/1996-10-13/opinion/op-53412_1_writing-poems-people

Yehuda Amichai :if you meet the devil, take him with you into the synagogue

INTERVIEWER

What is the relationship between your politics and your poetry?

Yehuda Amichai

AMICHAI

First of all, whoever reads my poetry could never arrive at fundamentalist, absolutist thinking. If someone is attracted to my poetry, he or she is attracted to all of the metaphoric background that I throw up against violence. Dealing with political realities is part of what we need to do to survive as normal human beings. You have to acknowledge political realties as they are. There’s an old Jewish saying: if you meet the devil, take him with you into the synagogue. Try to take the evil of politics into yourself, to influence it imaginatively—to give it human shape. This is my attitude toward politics. I’ve often said that all poetry is political. This is because real poems deal with a human response to reality and politics is part of reality, history in the making. Even if a poet writes about sitting in a glass house drinking tea it reflects politics.