“I write out of a greed for lives and language. A need to listen to the orchestra of the living. It is often said that a writer is more alive than his peers. But I believe he might also be sleepier than his peers, a sort of narcoleptic who requires constant waking up by his own imaginative work. He is closer to sleep and dream, and his memory is more haunted, thus more precise. I think of those moments in Faulkner and Beckett when the words seem absolutely final, bodiless, disattached, as out of a cloud of huge necessity. My desire to come even close to that team is a vanity met with vast gratitude: that you were hit by something as you stood in the way of it, that anybody is listening.”—Barry Hannah, from Why I Write
We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful? For that reason alone, we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to hell. For me, you were, along with much else, also like a window through which I could see the streets. I could not do that by myself, for tall though I am, I do not yet reach to the windowsill.
When a student who left his previous school due to paralyzing anxiety about writing finishes his first essay in your class (thanks to my patented no-stress backwards writing approach), and says, very surprised and flush with pride, “I think this is the best essay I’ve ever written.”
“We do not argue with the star, the comet, the locomotive racing almost invisible in the cold night. You and I know that all the elements of life coerce each other, force each other instant by instant into that perfect formation which is the only one possible.”—John Hawkes, from Travesty