- Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Some are haunted by ghosts. I am haunted by stories.”

R.I.P., Gene Wolfe. Here are some quotes from his writing.

“No man has a home unless he is master of a place where he must please no one—a place where he can go and lock the door behind him.”

“Evolution teaches us the original purpose of language was to ritualize men’s threats and curses, his spells to compel the gods; communication came later.”

“An exaggerated and solemn respect always indicates a loss of faith.”

“Time passed, slipping through the waist of the universe’s great hourglass like the eroded soil of this continent slipping down her rivers to the seas.”

“People who wish to be lost always get their way.”

“One of the questions whose answers we seek is why we seek.”

“Just as mainstream literature shows us how our contemporaries view the present, and historical fiction shows us how they view the past (not, of course, what the present or the past were actually like), so speculative fiction shows us how they view the future. I happen to believe that my contemporaries’ view of the past is not very important; but their view of the present is quite definitely important, and their view of the future is vital.”

“My definition of a great story has nothing to do with ‘a varied and interesting background.’ It is: One that can be read with pleasure by a cultivated reader and reread with increasing pleasure. The business about a varied and interesting background belongs to my definition of a good story.”

“Most Christians know next to nothing about the life and teachings of Christ and are afraid to learn, sensing that the knowledge will upset their preconceptions.”

“It will come as no surprise to those of you in the book trade when I say that although books do not cause cancer, books in general do not sell as well as cigarettes.”

“This, then, is the new illiteracy, the illiteracy of those who can read but don’t. […] This new illiteracy is more pernicious than the old, because unlike the old illiteracy it does not debar its victims from power and influence, although like the old illiteracy it disqualifies them for it. Those long-dead men and women who learned to read so that they might read the Bible and John Bunyan would tell us that pride is the greatest of all sins, the father of sin. And the victims of the new illiteracy are proud of it. If you don’t believe me, talk to them and see with what pride they trumpet their utter ignorance of any book you care to name.”

“The true dawn of adulthood, of intellectual maturity, if you like, is the realization that adults are all fools.”

“Almost any interesting work of art comes close to saying the opposite of what it really says.”

“Animals in zoos (we are told) believe that their bars protect them. We Americans have forged our own bars, built our own cage, and live in it more or less content as long as someone feeds us.”

 

 

 

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About John Madera

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.
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