Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.
A love story can never be about full possession. The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims--these are lucky eventualites but they aren't love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name. We value love not because it's stronger than death but because it's weaker. Say what you want about love: death will finish it. You will not go on loving in the grave, not in any physical way that will at all resemble love as we know it on earth. The perishable nature of love is what gives love its importance in our lives. If it were endless, if it were on tap, love wouldn't hit us the way it does. And we certainly wouldn't write about it.
There was nowhere I could go that wouldn't be you.
In the end, it wasn't death that surprised her but the stubbornness of life.
Yes, you need a passport to prove to the world that you exist. The people at passport control, they cannot look at you and see you are a person. No! They have to look at a little photograph of you. Then they believe you exist.
It was amazing how it worked: the tiniest bit of truth made credible the greatest lies.
O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes; Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching Earth; Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs. She hath no questions, she hath no replies.
She thought a writer should work harder writing a book than she did reading it.
The last thing the hockey ball symbolized was Time itself, the unstoppability of it, the way we're chained to our bodies, which are chained to Time.
But maybe they understood more about life than I did. From an early age they knew what little value the world placed in books, and so didn't waste their time with them. Whereas I, even now, persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing, I might be able to catch the rainbow of consciousness in a jar.
Reading a novel after reading semiotic theory was like jogging empty-handed after jogging with hand weights. What exquisite guilt she felt, wickedly enjoying narrative! Madeleine felt safe with a nineteenth century novel. There were going to be people in it. Something was going to happen to them in a place resembling the world. Then too there were lots of weddings in Wharton and Austen. There were all kinds of irresistible gloomy men.
I know that attaching memories to books may be going out of the world, but while it lasts, it's a strong record of your life.
I had a briefcase at one point, but it was a kind of 1980s New Wave briefcase. It was made of some kind of cardboard and it had metal hinges. It was kind of faux industrial looking, and I used to carry my books in it rather than a backpack. I didn't want to have normal student accoutrements.
Some Pulitzer winners - novelists - have confided to me that getting the prize screwed them up. It messed with their heads. That hasn't been my experience.
I approach writing female characters the same why I approach writing male characters. I never think I'm writing about women, I think I'm writing about one woman, one person. And I try to imagine what she is like, and endow her with a lot of my own thoughts and history.
I think the suicides in my first book came from the idea of growing up in Detroit. If you grow up in a city like that you feel everything is perishing, evanescent and going away very quickly.
If you talk to geneticists they are constantly finding that your genes are being switched on and off because of the environment. Genes alone do not determine an exact path in your life.
Jacques Derrida is a very important thinker and philosopher who has made serious contributions to both philosophy and literary criticism. Roland Barthes is the one I feel most affinity for, and Michel Foucault, well, his writing influenced my novel, 'Middlesex.'
At the same time, it's a family story and more of an epic. I needed the third-person. I tried to give a sense that Cal, in writing his story, is perhaps inventing his past as much as recalling it.