- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“If I try not to put limits on the curiosity, then I’m more likely to actually learn something.”

 

Happy birthday, William T. Vollmann! 60, today! Here are some quotes from the writer.

 

“After all, one of life’s best pleasures is reading a book of perfect beauty; more pleasurable still is rereading that book; most pleasurable of all is lending it to the person one loves…”

 

“I just make the best book that I can and try to not worry about audience or if it will sell. The odds are against you, so why abuse your talent for the sake of a chimera? The only real pleasure for me in writing comes from pleasing myself. What readers think is interesting and illuminating (and it may even be correct), but that is nothing compared to the excitement of seeing a world develop. Besides, even though I like most individuals I meet, I have a pretty low opinion of people in general. So if I were to write for people in general, I would have to drastically lower my estimation of the intelligence of my reader. Rather than doing that, I write the way it seems the book has to appear. I don’t think that’s egotistic. There are often things I would like to include in my books—things about me personally and other materials—that I feel I have to leave out because they aren’t relevant to the book. I’m fairly ruthless along those lines, because I try to let nothing come in the way of what’s best for the book. If that means that the book won’t sell or that a publisher won’t buy it, then that’s my problem. I’ll suffer for that, but I won’t let the book suffer for it.”

 

“Lovers may never meet again, but the ways of enemies oft do intersect: This proves some corollary about gravity.”

 

“Great art projects a sense of inexhaustibility. In literature, particularly in poetry, this may be accomplished through ambiguity: Beneath each and every meaning that I can descry lie others, so that rereading holds out the prospect of new subtleties, inversions, secret codes. and ineffabilities.”

 

“Maybe life is a process of trading hopes for memories.”

 

“Death is ordinary. Behold it, subtract its patterns and lessons from those of the death that weapons bring, and maybe the residue will show what violence is.”

 

“Do you want to know what happiness is? Happiness is the absence of unpleasant information.”

 

“When it comes to revolutionaries, trust only the sad ones. The enthusiastic ones are the oppressors of tomorrow.”

 

“All that’s happened is inconsequential; it cannot hurt us anymore; there’s only music, which lives within us and beyond us, needing us to express it but capable of surviving forever between expressions.”

 

“Life is an extended camping trip. With a leaky, inferior tent one runs no more risk of rain than anyone else; but if it does rain, the person in the cheap tent chances soaking in his sleeping bag, and possibly dying of hypothermia.”

 

“You have to treat everything with irony, especially the things you hold dear.”

 

“For we all must build our worlds around us, bravely or dreamily, as long as we can we shelter ourselves from the rain, walling ourselves in gorgeously.”

 

“Well, I try not to have a schedule. So, I’m pretty much writing every day at some point, but I do other things also. When I get bogged down, there is something that I don’t understand, I set that aside and do something else, whether it’s another writing project or doing a little maintenance at my studio or painting or going on some river adventure to see my outlaw friends in the Delta. I just try to mix it up. So I very rarely feel any boredom, unless of course, I’m on my stationary exercise bike. After about 10 or 11 hours of misery, I get off and realize it’s been about 30 seconds.”

 

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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