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“Thanks so much for your letter. I am very glad to hear you have a novel that will be out in November. I hope you won’t have as much trouble about keeping people from having parties for you as I am having. Around here if you publish the number of whiskers on the local pigs, everybody has to give you a tea. If you don’t send me a copy of your book, I will go to the extreme of buying one.”

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source: letter to Robie Macauley, May 2, 1952, in The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor, ed. by Sally Fitzgerald (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979), 35.

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medium: Letter

“It’s better, I think, for readers not to communicate too directly with an author because the author is, strangely enough, beside the point.”

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source: “A Note from Jeffrey Eugenides to Readers,” author’s Facebook page, November 3, 2011.

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medium: social media

“‘Authorship’—in the sense we know it today, individual intellectual effort related to the book as an economic commodity—was practically unknown before the advent of print technology. Medieval scholars were indifferent to the precise identity of the ‘books’ they studied. In turn, they rarely signed even what was clearly their own work. They were a humble service organization. Procuring texts was often a very tedious and time-consuming task. Many small texts were transmitted into volumes of miscellaneous content, very much like ‘jottings’ in a scrapbook, and, in this transmission, authorship was often lost.”


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source: The Medium is the Massage (New York: Touchstone, 1967), 122.

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medium: Nonfiction

notes: Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore co-created this book and Jerome Agel “produced” it. More info about the publishing arrangement here

“The great thing about writing a book is that it brings you into contact with people whose opinions you should have canvassed before you ever pressed pen to paper. They write to you. They telephone you. They come to your bookstore events and give you things to read that you should have read already. It’s this dialectical process that makes me glad I chose the profession I did: a free education that goes on for a lifetime.”

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source: “Finding Morals Under Empty Heavens,” Science & Spirit, July/August 2007.

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medium: Essay

“As part of my research for An Anthology of Authors’ Atrocity Stories About Publishers, I conducted a study (employing my usual controls) that showed the average shelf life of a trade book to be somewhere between milk and yogurt.”

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source: “Publisher’s Lunch,” in Uncivil Liberties (New Haven: Ticknor & Friends, 1982), 22.

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medium: magazine column

notes: originally published in Trillin's "Uncivil Liberties" column in The Nation, June 24, 1978.

“The first book is always the most fun, because when you write your first book you’re just a writer. Then you get published. Then you become an author, and once you’re an author the whole thing changes. You have a track record. You have a public. A certain literary persona. You can become very self-conscious and start to compete with yourself. No fun at all.”

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source: The Paris Review Interviews, vol. I (New York: Picador, 2006), 383.

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medium: interview

notes: Originally published in Issue 138 of The Paris Review, 1996.

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