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“When I read a review, a mere short review, I am more interested at first in who is doing the reviewing than in the work under discussion. The name, what is attached to it by previous work, by serious thought, tells me whether it is likely to have any meaning or value for me. It is not a question of right or wrong specific opinions, but of the quality of the mind.”

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source: “The Art of Fiction No. 87,” The Paris Review, No. 96, Summer 1985.

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medium: Interview

“(Twice this week I have been sent manuscripts of books that remind their editors, according to their covering letters, of my writing. Like a lot of writers, I can’t really stand my own writing, in the same way that I don’t really like my own cooking. And, just as when I go out to eat, I tend not to order my signature dish—an overcooked and overspiced meat-stewy thing containing something inappropriate, like tinned peaches, and a side order of undercooked and flavorless vegetables—I really don’t want to read anything that I could have come up with at my own computer. What I produce on my computer invariably turns out to be an equivalent of the undercooked overcooked stewy thing, no matter how hard I try to follow the recipe, and you really don’t want to eat too much of that. I’d love to be sent a book with an accompanying letter that said, ‘This is nothing like your work. But as a man of taste and discernment, we think you’ll love it anyway.’ That never happens.)”

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source: “April 2004,” in The Polysyllabic Spree (San Francisco, CA: Believer Books, 2004), 66–67.

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medium: Essay

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