Science and literature are both ways to ask questions about why we're here.
Sometimes I wake at 2 A.M. worrying that my great-granddaughter will have to march through her distant, broiling future gathering all the plastic I ever disposed of.
'Research,' for me, is a big word that encompasses a lot of different activities, all of them based around curiosity. Research is traveling to places, or studying snowflakes with a magnifying glass, or excavating one's memories. Research is walking around Hamburg with a notebook.
I studied history and English in college, got a master's in writing, but I was always sort of an autodidact in science.
I'm terrified of cliches.
Great writers probably shouldn't be ranked, at least not by me.
Sometimes my readers ask me what else they should read, and I recommend Sebald.
Fiction writers have long turned to winter to advance bluer palettes, slicker surfaces, and sharper contrasts. The sky darkens, the wind picks up, and flakes start to fall. Horizons shrink. Couples bicker. Cars slide off roads. Obliteration tends to loiter between the sentences.
Without always meaning to, I write really long short stories, 60-pagers, 90-pagers, pieces of fiction that are too long for all but the bravest magazines to print, and too short for all but the bravest book publishers to publish.
I had the little Radio Shack crystal radio, and then my aunt Judy bought me a shortwave radio. It was amazing to me: like on these really clear nights - I lived in Ohio - I could get Texas or Florida. You felt like the world was a smaller place.
Indeed, every book on my shelves is a key to a little vault of memories.
Basketball games - and seasons - make great narratives; they feature distinct acts, heroes and villains, and guaranteed resolutions.
We live in a culture that venerates scores. We affix numbers to how much fat is in our mochachinos, how quickly our telephones suck information from the air, how much pain we're in. Reading, too, has become a skill to quantifiably assess.
Travel definitely affects me as a writer.
I never played inside as a kid - even in the rain I'd go out.
My goals aren't really commercial success.
I guess whatever maturity is there may be there because I've been keeping a journal forever. In high school my friends would make fun of me - you're doing your man diary again. So I was always trying to translate experience into words.
The world is so fundamentally interesting that it makes me fall in love with it a dozen times a day.
When I was a boy, all the books I owned fit on a single shelf. Now I have several thousand stacked around the house.
I'll read anything Anne Carson writes, anything J. M. Coetzee writes, and anything Cormac McCarthy writes. I'll drop whatever I'm doing to read a new Mary Ruefle essay.
Short stories are not maybe the biggest deal in our culture anymore.