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“Were all these writers and artists more fragile than ordinary human beings or do we just know their names? It does seem as if there is a peril association with gift, a proclivity to break your brain just as professional skiers may be apt to break their legs as they swoop downward through wind and snow. It may be that to see and tell the story of human error is to dare to expose yourself to the sacred flash of truth that can drive you mad. Or are you mad to try in the first place?”

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source: Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2011), 182–83.

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medium: Memoir

“If you have kids, give your partner reading vouchers next Christmas. Each voucher entitles the bearer to two hours’ reading-time while kids are awake. It might look like a cheapskate present, but parents will appreciate that it costs more in real terms than a Lamborghini.”

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source: “March 2004,” in The Polysyllabic Spree (San Francisco, CA: Believer Books, 2004), 58.

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medium: Essay

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”

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source: The Paris Review Interviews, vol. I (New York: Picador, 2006), 61.

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medium: interview

notes: Originally published in Issue 18 of The Paris Review, 1958.

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