After 12/7/2011, this blog will no longer be updated, although content will remain. Please visit my new blog at Hidden Latitudes.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pat Conroy on Writing, Reading and Story

"Safety is a crime writers should never commit unless they are after tenure or praise. A novelist must wrestle with all mysteries and strangeness of life itself, and anyone who does not wish to accept that grand, bone-chilling commission should write book reviews, editorials, or health-insurance policies instead. The idea of a novel should stir your blood, and you should rise to it like a lion lifting up at the smell of impala. It should be instinctual, incurable, unanswerable, and a calling, not a choice."

"My mother promised that reading would make me smart, and I found myself recruited in Mom’s battle over her own lack of a higher education. She distributed books to me as though they were communion wafers or the tongues of fire that lit up the souls of the disciples with Pentecostal clairvoyance. Mom would point her finger to a wall of books and tell me she was showing me the way out of a shame that was unutterable. I took whatever book she put into my hand and made it part of me. I made it the life of me, the essence of my own tree of knowledge. With each book, I built a city out of what my heart loved, my soul yearned for, and my eyes desired."

"The most powerful words in English are 'tell me a story,' words that are intimately related to the complexity of history, the origins of language, the continuity of the species, the taproot of our humanity, our singularity, and art itself."
—from My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy

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