Difficult to write without the proximity of books (perhaps an error to have separated my office and my library?), without feeling their presence, their weight, because they seem to exude phantom musics, they don’t only eye me from the height of their shelves, they flow in silent sentences, they copulate in proximity, they straddle one another, they fight, sometimes I am there arbiter, the new sentence decides between them.
—Herve Guibert The Mausoleum of Lovers
the phrase Chekhov invented to describe the comedy (in the sternest sense) of self-delusion
All the characters in the very powerful stories of Flannery O’Connor are exposed: that is to say they are plain human beings in whose fractured lives the writer discovered an uncouth relationship with the lasting myths and violent passions of human life. The people are rooted in their scene, but as weeds are rooted.
—V. S. Pritchett from ‘Satan Comes to Georgia’ in The Tale Bearers: Essays on English, American and Other Writers
The subject is THERE only by the grace of the author’s language.
—Joyce Carol Oates from ‘Against Nature’