“Panic in Moscow is hard to spot, but even from 6000 miles away, it’s easy to smell, and the metallic stink of fear is rising off the palace offices of the Russian executive as if from the gurneys in a cancer ward on the morning of an operation.”
Tom Nichols, “Why the Russians Are Panicking Over Flight 17,” The Federalist
“All real work is hard. My work happened to be undoable. Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenseless and unprepared. Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me, and I had no compassion for myself.
“Again and again we embark within the mind’s eye of Ms. Munro’s narrators, often the character at the heart of the story. It feel, surprisingly, as if the reader has simply been absorbed in the story’s first person. We want to know what happens because it seems to be happening to us.”
“A Nobel Prize for Alice Munro,” NYT Editorial
That captures perfectly why I love certain heroines so much, from Natasha Rostov to Fleur Forsyte to Scarlett O’Hara — what happens to them seems to be happening to me. Now, if I could just write heroines like that.
Jonah Lehrer, from his book proposal, A BookAboutLove:
“Careers fall apart; homes fall down; we give away what we don’t want and sell what we can’t afford. And yet, if we are lucky, such losses reveal what remains. When we are stripped of what we wanted, we see what we will always need: those people who love us, even after the fall.”
In 2012, Lehrer lost his job at TheNewYorker for fabricating quotes and plagiarizing (from himself!) and had his book Imagine: HowCreativityWorks recalled by the publisher. It was a stunning plunge for someone who had enormous success as a young man.
“A truly excellent writer, though, pursues her obsessions and allows them to dictate what form her work will take. That sounds simple, but in fact it is hard for any writer to recognize what those obsessions are, to face them squarely when they are frightening or puzzling, and to shape them into persuasive works of art.”
J. Robert Lennon, reviewing Jamie Quatro’s IWantToShowYouMore, The New York Times Book Review