Words matter. These are the best Ben Dolnick Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
When I started researching the eco effects of eating meat, I’d assumed, for no good reason, that environmental irresponsibility would correspond to both animal size and deliciousness: Eating cows would be worst, eating pigs would be a bit less bad, and eating chickens would be basically harmless.
Every morning as I begin my work day, my computer presents me with the usual array of garbage: email, Twitter, updates on the state of the nation, updates on the state of the sneakers I just ordered.
True atonement isn’t the periodic shaving of karmic stubble via confessional; it requires deep, truthful change. It means doing the hardest thing of all: not making the same stupid mistake again.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s nine novels are thin enough that if you were so inclined, you could take her entire literary output down from the shelf with a single stretched hand. You’d be holding an eclectic bunch.
In life, we like tranquility; in books, we love tension.
I’ve sold all but one of my microphones, put away my mini-notebooks, stopped scouring the Internet for scraps of wisdom.
One of my more hectoring voices, throughout my career, has been the one that says I ought to stop what I’m doing and make an outline.
Books like Munro’s are so deeply personal and idiosyncratic that it feels like a violation to subject them to the crude business of committee meetings and PR releases; you might as well storm a butterfly den with a klieg light.
Sometimes I think there ought to be a coat of arms for all of us who listen to Oberst’s band Bright Eyes past the age of twenty-six. ‘With Love and Shame,’ the motto would read. The handwriting would be the cramped and tortured scribble of a high school freshman.
Philip Roth has made a cottage industry of unlikable characters, but compared with Mickey Sabbath, the furious and profane protagonist of ‘Sabbath’s Theater,’ Roth’s earlier creations seem like Winnie the Pooh.
A novel quite possibly won’t be good and, even more possibly, will have not-good parts, but at least it won’t shape-shift on you; at least you can say that you’re halfway through and know that this maps onto some clear, visualizable chunk of narrative.
Beginning in middle school, the era of wide-margined, Bible-paged anthologies, short stories develop unpromising associations – and these associations often linger through college, when stories become the things distributed in Xeroxes missing entire pages of line-endings.
I would love to love Saul Bellow, but by page fifty of ‘Herzog’, something within me has wandered into another room.
When I first read ‘At Freddie’s’, I was struggling with my own writing, particularly with how to write about a sad subject – the death of a parent – without writing an entirely sad book.
To learn a piece on the piano – even a simple one – has proved every bit as agonizing as writing a chapter in a book, every bit as tedious and hopeless and halting. But this is not to say that the piano hasn’t helped my writing. It has, just not in the ways I expected.
Writing is a sufficiently lonely and mysterious pastime that I don’t begrudge myself a talisman or two, so long as they don’t become ways of distracting myself from the glum inescapability of actual work.
Enrichment happened to be my favorite time of day in the Children’s Zoo, since it offered relief from the security-guard-esque standing around that makes up most of a zookeeper’s day.
People often talk about the characters in books as if they were considering whom to invite to a dinner party. ‘Oh, I just hated her – she was so mean.’ ‘He’s a bully; I didn’t like how he treated his mother.’
There’s something to be said for a likable character, but fiction has a way of upending our ordinary standards.
A short-story collection is harder to formulate pithy sentences about.
A social worker named Cosette Rae, along with a therapist named Hilarie Cash, founded ‘ReSTART’ in what, until then, had been Rae’s house.
During the couple of years it took to write ‘At The Bottom of Everything’, I decided, on the sort of hopeful whim that occasionally overtakes me, to sign up for piano lessons.
To write fiction is to think that you’re doing it wrong – that your work habits are inhibiting you; that you’ve chosen the wrong subject; that you’ve chosen the right subject, but that someone else has, unbeknownst to you, already written exactly the book you’re laboring over.
If you were placing bets on which author would write the tenderest, most moving book about fatherhood, Philip Roth would probably come in at the bottom of the list.
I will never, most likely, be good at the piano, but thanks to it, I will never forget the humbling, infuriating, necessary slowness of progress in any artistic endeavor.
Literary interviews are inevitably packed with the nuts and bolts of how writers do their work, and there’s very little that aspiring writers do more readily than fling other people’s nuts and bolts into their toolboxes.
Oberst is one of those musicians that some people hate in a visceral, biological way.
Herta Muller, Mo Yan, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio – for many of us, the Nobels have become doubly educational: We simultaneously learn of an author’s existence and find out that we ought to have been reading him or her all along.
A novel is no mere assemblage of gears; it is a wild and living being. And how are you to discern the intentions of a creature – to discover its true nature – other than by close and respectful observation?
Literature is one of those realms in which giving out prizes can seem not merely dubious but positively obtuse.