I didn't care about truth; I cared about beauty. It took me many years--it took the experience of lived time--to realize that they really are the same thing.
Suddenly it occurred to me that maybe the point of writing wasn't just to record something past but also to prolong the present, like in One Thousand and One Nights, to stretch out the time until the next thing happened.
It's possible to watch 'Gone Girl' and feel that you have seen something terribly bleak. But it's also possible to receive it as good news. Any powerful articulation of the need for change is also a testimony to the possibility of change.
Read enough about the dung beetle, and a picture of its character emerges: patient, optimistic, uncomplaining.
I enjoy a good meal as much as anyone, but I get so confused by nutritional, budgetary, ecological, ethical, aesthetic, and time-management concerns that I often subsist for weeks on instant oatmeal and multivitamins.
Why is there an end of the year? Because the calendar imposes numerical order on time. There is a natural fitness in the celebration of the New Year, a holiday of numbers imposed on things, with lists, as well as with Advent calendars and songs like 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.'
My parents were educated in the Turkish system and went straight from high school to medical school; my mom, who had skipped a grade, was dissecting corpses at age seventeen. Growing up in America, I think I envied my parents' education. By comparison, everything I did in school seemed so sort of low-stakes and infantilizing.
It's important not to censor yourself and not to get upset or demoralized when you write bad stuff.
The novel is like a melancholy form. It's about some kind of disillusionment with the way things are versus the idea of how they could be or how they used to be.
There's this idea that if you want to write, you shouldn't study literature because then you're dissecting what you love, and you should keep your love of literature pure. I think that's kind of silly.
The first modern novel was already a product, even an expression, of negative criticism: 'Don Quixote' contains a quite explicit critique of the chivalric romance and its insufficiency to account for the way real life feels when you get up in the morning in 17th-century Spain.
I like a novel to have a certain amount of dead time and filler - unremarkable scenery, descriptions of getting from point A to point B, dialogue in which not much is said - in between the parts that are electric. With a long work that you don't read in one sitting, I think that makes for the best reading experience.
The Himalayan glaciers, China's trade surplus, Olympic ice hockey - the world is full of pressing subjects that people never consult me about.
I had wanted to write 'The Possessed' as fiction, but everyone told me that no one would read a novel about graduate students. It seems almost uncivilized to tell someone writing a novel, 'No, you have to call this a memoir.'
Listing and counting have a spooky, magical power, and the holiday season is a spooky, magical time.
I grew up thinking that it was immoral to idealize the past because, in the past, there was slavery and no penicillin.
'Awkward' implies both solidarity and implication. Nobody is exempt.
Being in a heterosexual relationship for a woman is always implicitly a little bit humiliating.
For a Nabokov fan, paging through 'Fine Lines,' which includes a critical introduction and several essayistic evaluations of Nabokov's scientific oeuvre, can feel a bit like reading the second half of 'Pale Fire': one is confronted by a content-rich, almost dementedly tangential commentary on an increasingly inscrutable work.
I have always known my mother as an agnostic, less certain than my father that the universe hadn't been created by some great intelligence. But she would get even more annoyed than my father did when she thought that people were invoking God to do their jobs for them - for example, when she saw a bus with a sticker saying 'Allah Protect Us.'