I didn't get on a plane until I was 23, after I left Oxford and was teaching at Lucy Clayton Secretarial College in London.

I really like to win at sport.

There's something awful about Oxford, I think. It's such a little ghetto.

As soon as I hear that there's something to get used to, I know that I won't; I sort of pledge myself to not getting used to it.

One of the things I've really come to realise is that the chances of arriving at a universal truth are increased if you remain absolutely faithful to the contingencies of your own experience and the vagaries of your own nature.

I think I do have a sort of terrible propensity for boredom and for being bored, even though I am absolutely of the opinion that one shouldn't be bored and that there is no excuse for it and that it is a personal failing.

Cheever constantly voiced doubts about his writing. Reading 'The Naked and the Dead' made him despair of his own 'confined talents.'

Writing, for me, has always been a way of not having a career.

In the 1930s, photographers such as Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange produced images of sharecroppers and Okies, which drew attention both to the conditions in which these unfortunates found themselves and to their heroic fortitude.

Inevitably, most readers come to John Cheever's 'Journals' via his fiction. Whatever value they might have in their own right, their viability as a publishing proposition was conditional on the interest of the large readership of his novels and stories.

In terms of target audience, who cares what a middle-aged guy like me wants; most mainstream are not catering to me at all.

Borrowing something from one art form and relocating it in another always has a whiff of pretension about it, like in books if, instead of 'Chapter One,' you have 'First Movement.'

When I'm writing, quite often I start having a good time when I see there's a chance to make myself look like a real jerk. I start chuckling and having an interesting, rather than a boring, time.

I don't read 'genre' fiction if that means novels with lots of killing and shooting. Even Cormac McCarthy's 'No Country for Old Men' seemed pretty childish in that regard.

I think that if you are a resolute, unswerving atheist, you have that sense that you are conscious of the God-shaped hole that has been left in the wake of any religious belief, and in a way, one is much more drawn to articulate why it is that certain places, or certain experiences, have a kind of power.

I'm never happier when writing than when I see gags taking shape - ideally, gags at my own expense. What I like is the shuttling back and forth, serious into comedy and vice-versa, ideally, both in the same sentence, or even simultaneously. The best jokes are always ideas in miniature.

The only thing that changes in my novels are the locations.

The CGI landscape is another world. It has its own physical laws; it can defy gravity. But surely the wonder of cinematic space is that it is wedded to reality?

In history books, or the one about the guy who cut his hand off to get out of a canyon in Utah, you really want them to be accurate. But my stuff is such small beer by comparison.

Writers are not obliged to deal with current events, but it happens that the big story of our times - the al-Qaida attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - is being told in some of the greatest books of our time.

I really have to give the Navy all the credit it deserves. They were so flexible and accommodating, given that everybody on board had better things to worry about than this person coming on board who's just going to be in the way, really.

I remember being interviewed about my first novel, 'The Colour of Memory.' They kept using the expression 'your first novel,' and I said, 'No, I object to that phrase, because this is it for me.'

In many ways, I was a typical young guy out of college. I was at Oxford, where every night there'd be a late showing of some great film.

It would be nice to turn off that incessant churning of consciousness.

If you just take me as a fiction writer, then you're probably going to find me fairly limited.

There are the tears of rage when books get praised when they're so obviously garbage. But then there are so many more that continue to move me: the end of 'Paradise Lost,' 'The Ruined Cottage' by Wordsworth, Prospero's 'Our revels now are ended' speech near the end of 'The Tempest.'

While admiring the pleasing evidence of wealth, we become complicit in - or, at the very least, recognize the extent to which we, too, are beneficiaries of - an economic system we routinely deplore.

The series 'Generation Kill' is, along with everything else, a sustained critique of the structural and conventional fictions of 'The Hurt Locker.'

It's funny, because people always say when they meet me, having read me - or they read me, having met me - that they are struck by how the tone is pretty similar, in real life and in the books.

I am still moved by passages of Marx: the 'Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right,' for example, where, after the famous line about religion being 'the opium of the people,' he goes on to call it 'the heart of a heartless world.'

I could never write a book where the point-of-view character was a short person, because I just can't imagine what that's like.

The devastating scale and frequency of my disappointment was proof of how much I still expected and wanted from the world, of what high hopes I still had for it.

I've seen 'Stalker' more times than any film except 'The Great Escape.'

We still go to nonfiction for content. And if it's well-written, that's a bonus. But we don't often talk about the nonfiction work of art. That's what I'm very interested in.

The person doing the learning is the person writing the book as much as the person reading it.

I was studying English, as you will, in the day, and five nights a week, I would be at the cinema. That continued throughout my 20s, which was also the 1980s - there was a lot of really good films coming out then.

Stories don't interest me.

What I've really liked doing is combining what you might call art criticism or music criticism with something that is happening in real life.

Once you've got through immigration, one is always made to feel very welcome in America, once they've let you in. It's a great place to be.

What I don't like is constructing a book that fits in with any kind of generic template, whether it's fiction or nonfiction.

For me, those little cinemas in Paris where I saw many art films for the first time meant that cinema became a kind of pilgrimage site.

There is a thematic continuity here within Bigelow's work: 'The Hurt Locker' serves up a military equivalent of the thrill-trips that Lenny Nero was hustling in her earlier 'Strange Days.'

While writing, I'm always so happy in the middle of a book or finishing a book and really hate starting them, so I often think, 'I wish I had a really big book to write to which I could devote seven years of my life.'

We have in our heads a pretty well-defined narrative of the First World War, and there are certain events that are obviously key.

The lesson of travel seems to be so banal, but so great, which is that people are just so amazingly decent the world over. Given the disparity of income and wealth, it's amazing not just that you don't get robbed everywhere - it's amazing you don't get eaten.

I've always had this belief that you want to write about universal truths.

The ritual of film-going in some sense replaced that of churchgoing, because you share something communal, sometimes mystical.

Making the ordinary potentially magical is what film should be all about.

My Tarkovsky idolatry was at its peak, but 'Nostalghia' really didn't do anything for me. 'The Sacrifice' was similarly disappointing for me. Next thing we knew, he was dead.