Interviews

All Interviews

Nelson Algren

1955

“The only way I could finish a book and get a plot was just to keep making it longer until something happens.”

Truman Capote

1957

“The short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant.”

Joyce Cary

1954

“Politics is like navigation in a sea without charts, and wise men live the lives of pilgrims.”

Isak Dinesen

1956

“The present is always unsettled, no one has had time to contemplate it in tranquillity.”

Lawrence Durrell

1959

“‘Do you consciously dream?’ One doesn’t know very much about these processes at all.”

T. S. Eliot

1959

“I couldn’t apply the word ‘intention’ positively to any of my poems. Or to any poem.”

Ralph Ellison

1955

“The American novel is ... a conquest of the frontier; as it describes our experience, it creates it.”

William Faulkner

1956

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Be better than yourself.”

E. M. Forster

1953

“I have always found writing pleasant and don’t understand what people mean by ‘throes of creation.’”

Henry Green

1958

“The miracle is that a work of art should live in the person who reads it.”

Graham Greene

1953

“For a writer to spend much of his time in the company of authors is, you know, a form of masturbation.”

Ernest Hemingway

1958

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

James Jones

1958

“I declare to all young men trying to become writers that they do not actually have to become drunkards first.”

François Mauriac

1953

“Sartre expressed the despair of this generation. He did not create it, but he gave it a justification and a style.”

Alberto Moravia

1954

“A writer survives in spite of his beliefs. Lawrence will be read whatever one thinks of his notions on sex. Dante is read in the Soviet Union.”

Frank O’Connor

1957

“I still maintain that living with somebody . . . you know him as well as he can be known . . . What happens if you're torturing him or he's dying of cancer is no business of mine and that is not the individual.”

Dorothy Parker

1956

“Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, 'You're all a lost generation.' That got around to certain people and we all said, 'Whee! We're lost.' ”

Françoise Sagan

1956

“I recognize limitations in the sense that I've read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and Shakespeare . . . Aside from that I don't think of limiting myself.”

Irwin Shaw

1953

On the New York theater audience: “I have a fine play in mind I'll write for them someday. The curtain slides up on a stage bare except for a machine gun facing the audience. . . . [then] the actor walks upstage, adjusts the machine gun, and blasts them.”

Georges Simenon

1955

“The fact [is] that we are I don't know how many millions of people, yet communication, complete communication, is completely impossible between two of those people . . . ”

William Styron

1954

On when he writes: “I like to stay up late at night and get drunk and sleep late. . . . The afternoon is the only time I have left . . . ”

James Thurber

1955

“When I did the cartoon originally I meant the naked woman to be at the top of a flight of stairs, but I lost the sense of perspective and . . . there she was stuck up there, naked, on a bookcase.”

Robert Penn Warren

1957

“America is stuck with its self-definition put on paper in 1776, and that was just like putting a burr under the metaphysical saddle of America.”

Thornton Wilder

1956

On fighting against didactic intentions: “I've spent a large part of my life trying to sit on it, to keep it down . . . I think the struggle with it may have brought a certain kind of objectivity into my work.”

Angus Wilson

1957

“I don't think it's the novelist's job to give answers. He's only concerned with exposing the human situation, and if his books do good incidentally that's all well and good.”