The past beats inside me like a second heart.
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 their turn drop, and so on into the unimaginable generations.
He knows that after him everything will continue on much as before, except that there will be a minuscule absence, a barely detective gap in the so-called grand scheme, one unit fewer now. Or not even that, not even an empty space where he once was, for all will rush immediately to fill that vacuum. Pft. Gone. Recollections of him will remain in the minds of others for a while, but presently those others too will die and his few relics with them. And then all will be dark.
In order really to write one has to sink deep into the self and become lost there.
Writing keeps me at my desk, constantly trying to write a perfect sentence. It is a great privilege to make one’s living from writing sentences. The sentence is the greatest invention of civilization. To sit all day long assembling these extraordinary strings of words is a marvelous thing… For me, a line has to sing before it does anything else. The great thrill is when a sentence that starts out being completely plain suddenly begins to sing, rising far above itself and above any expectation I might have had for it. That’s what keeps me going on those dark December days when I think about how I could be living instead of writing.
How I envy writers who can work on aeroplanes or in hotel rooms. On the run I can produce an article or a book review, or even a film script, but for fiction I must have my own desk, my own wall with my own postcards pinned to it, and my own window not to look out of.
My work is frequently described as cold, which is baffling, since it seems to me embarrassingly, shame-makingly, scandalously warm. I find my work filled with sentiment, and I can't imagine why people find it cold.
We writers are shy, nocturnal creatures. Push us into the light and the light blinds us.
I live in Dublin, God knows why. There are greatly more congenial places I could have settled in - Italy, France, Manhattan - but I like the climate here, and Irish light seems to be essential for me and for my writing.
I've always been fascinated by physics and cosmology. It gets more and more scary the older you get.
With crime fiction, you have to write a half-dozen before they catch on.
Most crime fiction, no matter how 'hard-boiled' or bloodily forensic, is essentially sentimental, for most crime writers are disappointed romantics.
With the crime novels, it's delightful to have protagonists I can revisit in book after book. It's like having a fictitious family.
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.
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.
Why does the past seem so magical, so fraught, so luminous? At the time it was just, ugh, another boring bloody day. But, to look back on, it's a day full of miracles and light and extraordinary events. Why is this? What process do we apply to the past, to give it this vividness? I don't know.
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.
The effect of prizes on one's career - if that is what to call it - is considerable, since they give one more clout with publishers and more notoriety among journalists. The effect on one's writing, however, is nil - otherwise, one would be in deep trouble.
I don't know if there is a personal identity. We all imagine that we are absolute individuals. But when we begin to look for where this individuality resides, it's very difficult to find.
I would be far more critical than any reviewer could be of my own work. So I simply don't read them.