I don't make a distinction between men and women. To me they are just people.

I had a sudden image of myself as a sort of large dark simian something slumped there at the table, or not a something but a nothing, rather, a hole in the room, a palpable absence, a darkness visible.

But why at least? What a business it is, the human discourse.

The tea-bag is a vile invention suggestive to my perhaps overly squeamish eye of something a careless person might leave behind unflushed in the lavatory.

I sometimes think that I might be slightly autistic. There might be a syndrome that hasn't been named. I don't seem to see the world in the same way that most people I know see it. They don't seem to be baffled by it.

These things that were between us, these and a myriad others, a myriad myriad, these remain of her, but what will become of them when I am gone, I who am their repository and sole preserver?

Death is such a strange thing. One minute you're here and then just gone. You'd think there would be an anteroom, a place where you could be visited before you go.

I want my art to make people look at the world in a new way. I mean, what's the point of the art of writing if it doesn't take you into the mysterious?

The telephone ringing gave me a dreadful start. I have never got used to this machine, the way it crouches so malevolently, ready to start clamouring for attention when you least expect it, like a mad baby.

Her mouth tasted of smoke and toothpaste and something feety that made my blood flare.

This is the way it is with me, always looking in or looking out, a chilly pane of glass between me and a remote and longed-for world.

All art at a certain level is entertainment. We go to a tragedy by Sophocles to be entertained.

He had scores to settle with the world, and she, at that moment, was world enough for him.

I have this fantasy. I'm walking past a bookshop and I click my fingers and all my books go blank. So I can start again and get it right.

The big rippled sheets of glass were taken out of their sacking and lowered from the back of the wagon, and for a few giddy moments a troupe of rubbery dwarves and etiolated giants shimmied and shivered in those depthless caskets. of light.

To take possession of a city of which you are not a native you must first fall in love there.

Everything in the room seemed turned away from me in sullen resistance, averthing itself from my unwelcome return.

What did I brood on, sitting there in the classic pose with my elbows on my knees and my chin on my hands? We do not need to go to the Greeks, our tragic predicament is written out on rolls of lavatory paper.

Oh, by the way, the plot: it almost slipped my mind. Charlie French bought my mother's pictures cheap and sold them dear to Binkie Behrens, then bought them cheap from Binkie and sold them on to Max Molyneaux. Something like that. Does it matter? Dark deeds, dark deeds. Enough.

Doing what you do well is death. Your duty is to keep trying to do things that you don't do well, in the hope of learning.

If I was asked to say what was the greatest invention of human beings, I would say the sentence.

Happiness was different in childhood. It was so much then a matter simply of accumulation, of taking things - new experiences, new emotions - and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self.

It is in the forms of the living that the dead most convincingly haunt us.

I've been wrestling with Kafka since I was an adolescent. I think he's a great aphorist, a great letter writer, a great diarist, a great short story writer, and a great novelist - I'd put novelist last.

It's great people still care about books, and it's great you can still fashion a life from literature.

I've always been fascinated by physics and cosmology. It gets more and more scary the older you get.

When young writers approach me for advice, I remind them, as gently as I can, that they are on their own, with no help available anywhere. Which is how it should be.

There is something about gin, the tang in it of the deep wildwood, perhaps, that always makes me think of twilight and mists and dead maidens. Tonight it tinkled in my mouth like secret laughter.

When I say I don't like my own work, that doesn't mean it isn't better than everyone else's.

What is my purpose here? I may say, I just sat down to write, but I am not deceived. I have never done anything in my life that did not have a purpose, usually hidden, sometimes even from myself.

Happy sadness, sad happiness, the story of my life and loves.

I read Nietzsche when I was a teenager and then I went back to reading him when I was in my thirties, and his voice spoke directly to me. Nietzsche is such a superb literary artist.

We carry the dead with us only until we die too, and then it is we who are borne along for a little while, and then our bearers in turn drop, and so on into the unimaginable generations.

None of this means anything. Anything of significance, that is. I am just amusing myself, musing, losing myself in a welter of words. For words in here are a form of luxury, of sensuousness, they are all we have been allowed to keep of the rich, wasteful world from which we are shut away.

Whom now would I love, and who would love me?

Art is amoral, whether we accept this or not; it does not take sides. The finest fictions are cold at heart.

Another week done with. How quickly the time goes as the season advances, the earth hurtling along its groove into the years's sharply descending final arc.

We writers are shy, nocturnal creatures. Push us into the light and the light blinds us.

A thief's heart is an impetuous organ, and while inwardly he throbs for absolution, at the same time he can't keep from bragging.

With the crime novels, it's delightful to have protagonists I can revisit in book after book. It's like having a fictitious family.

Call me Autolycus. Well, no, don't. Although I am, like that unfunny clown, a picker-up of unconsidered trifles. Which is a fancy way of saying I steal things.

I am like the Census, he said, broken down by age, sex and religion.

Perhaps all of life is no more than a long preparation for the leaving of it.

We artists love to talk tough, but we're just as sentimental as everyone else when it comes down to it.

You can't write about fantasy without being ridiculous.

I'd given up Catholicism in my teens but something of it stays with me. I try to create the perfect sentence - that's as close to godliness as I can get.

These days I must take the world in small and carefully measured doses. It is a sort of homeopathic cure I am undergoing, though I am not certain what this cure is meant to mend. Perhaps I am learning to live amongst the living again. Practising, I mean. But no, that is not it. Being here is just a way of not being anywhere.

We think we're living in the present, but we're really living in the past.

I guard my memories of my lost one jealously, keep them securely under wraps, like a folio of delicate watercolours that must be protected from the harsh light of day.