These officials changed names they couldn't pronounce and tore people from their families, consigning to a return voyage old folks, people with bad eyes, riffraff and also those who looked insolent. Such power was dazzling. The immigrants were reminded of home. Ragtime.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

Movies are too literal.

My father was the proprietor of a music shop on Forty-third Street, where many of the finest performers and musicians of the day would come to shop. He knew the classical repertoire inside out.

Somewhere along the line the rhythms and tonalities of music elided in my brain with the sounds that words make and the rhythm that sentences have.

We're always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it's a little raw and nervy.

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

There is music in words, and it can be heard you know, by thinking.

Jacqueline, for how many days have I been without food. There was a crash, the whole house shook. Where is Langley? Where is my brother?

I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.

Happiness consists of living in the dailyness of life and not knowing how happy you are. True happiness comes of not knowing you're happy, it's an animal serenity, something between contentment and joy, a steadiness of the belonged self in the world.

Stories distribute the suffering so that it can be borne.

Langley would never complete his newspaper project. I knew that and I'm sure he knew it as well. It was a crazy foolish hand-rubbing scheme that kept his mind in the mood he liked to be in.

The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.

Because like all whores you value propriety. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing.

To Morgan, the disfigurement of his monstrous nose was the touch of God upon him, the assurance of mortality. It was the steadiest assurance he had.

Leo Crowley, Harry [Truman]'s Foreign Economic Administrator, tells Congressmen the theory...: 'If you create good governments in foreign countries, automatically you will have better markets for ourselves.' With that honeycunt staring you in the face, you'd forget your grammar too.

The genome of every human cell has memory. You know what that means? As evolved beings we have in our genes memories of the far past, of long-ago generations, memories of experiences not our own.

You're nothing more than a clever prostitute. You accepted the conditions in which you found yourself and you triumphed.

I thought I would lose, so I didn't prepare a speech.

If I moved at the speed of light, I could get no confirmation of my existence from an objective source of reflected lightsuch as a mirror. I would be like a ghost in the universe, materially unverifiable in the stream of time.

Novels can do anything in the dark horrors of consciousness. Films do close-ups, car drive-ups, places, chases, and explosions.

The businessmen wondered if they could create such individuals not from the accidents of news events but from the deliberate manufactures of their own medium.

God has raised his hand to give us respite. It could be he has something more in mind for us. With this time on our hands, we should try to figure out what it could be. Because HE don't do pointless acts of charity.

The story was clearly over, as in juggling when the ball you throw up finds the moment to come down, hesitates as if it might not, and then drops at the same speed of that celestial light. And life is no longer good but just what you happen to be holding.

And why is Grant so solemn today upon our great achievement, except he knows this unmeaning inhuman planet will need our warring imprint to give it value, and that our civil war, the devastating manufacture of the bones of our sons, is but a war after a war, a war before a war.

I've outlasted many marriages at Random House.

If justice cannot be made to operate under the worst possible conditions of social hysteria, what does it matter how it operates at other times?

A book is not complete until it's read.

Books are acts of composition: you compose them. You make music: the music is called fiction.

The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.

To have the regard of one's peers is immensely moving.

And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety-four years to go.

In fiction, you know, there are no borders. You can go anywhere.

There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there's only narrative.

I like to think of myself as an unmediated novelist - or perhaps a national novelist.

It seems to me that in literature, books have always been answers to other books.

It was as if God had decreed this characterless engagement of brainless forces as his answer to the human presumption.

Orthodox devotions that do not let in the light of modern knowledge are no more than a form of ancestor worship.

The music of the Stones pounds the air like the amplified pulse of my erection.

Writing teachers invariably tell students, write about what you know. That's, of course, what you have to do, but on the other hand, how do you know what you know until you've written it? Writing is knowing... I've had very little experience in my life. In fact, I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.

You have to know someone to want to kill him.

I've had very little experience in my life. In fact, I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

The Shadow had no imagination. He neither looked at naked women nor thought of ridding the world of dictators like Hitler or Mussolini.

When crime was working as it was supposed to it was very dull. Very lucrative and very dull.

It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

In the twentieth century one of the most personal relationships to have developed is that of the person and the state. It's become a fact of life that governments have become very intimate with people, most always to their detriment.