Love is an abstract noun, something nebulous. And yet love turns out to be the only part of us that is solid, as the world turns upside down and the screen goes black.
And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit.
The universe is a million billion light-years wide, and every inch of it would kill you if you went there. This is the position of the universe with regards to human life.
He awoke at six, as usual. He needed no alarm clock. He was already comprehensively alarmed.
It is straightforward—and never mind, for now, about plagues and famines: if God existed, and if he cared for humankind, he would never have given us religion.
This had seemed a safe choice, since to be against the Beatles (late-middle period) is to be against life.
My life looked good on paper - where, in fact, almost all of it was being lived.
Novelists don't normally write about what's going on; they write about what's not going on.
Sex is hard to write about because you lose the universal and succumb to the particular. We all have our different favorites. Good sex is impossible to write about. Lawrence and Updike have given it their all, and the result is still uneasy and unsure. It may be that good sex is something fiction just can't do--like dreams. Most of the sex in my novels is absolutely disastrous. Sex can be funny, but not very sexy.
Belief is otiose; reality is sufficiently awesome as it stands.
Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful.
All my adult life I have been searching for the right adjective to describe my father's peculiarly aggressive comic style. I recently settled on 'defamatory.'
Watching an adaptation of your novel can be a violent experience: seeing your old jokes suddenly thrust at you can be alarming. But I started to enjoy 'Money' very quickly, and then I relaxed.
All writers of fiction will at some point find themselves abandoning a piece of work - or find themselves putting it aside, as we gently say.
People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book. I say, 'If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book', but otherwise the idea of being conscious of who you're directing the story to is anathema to me, because, in my view, fiction is freedom and any restraints on that are intolerable.
Language leads a double life - and so does the novelist. You chat with family and friends, you attend to your correspondence, you consult menus and shopping lists, you observe road signs, and so on. Then you enter your study, where language exists in quite another form - as the stuff of patterned artifice.
It's an ancient idea that the leader of a democracy should not be the cleverest but the most average. That's an arguable point, but the world has decided otherwise - except in America, where it still divides the country right down the middle.
Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.
The process of writing a novel begins with a pang, a moment of recognition, and a situation, a character, or something you read in a paper, that seems to go off, like a solar flare inside your head.
If every inhabitant of a liberal democracy believes in liberal democracy, then it doesn't matter what creed or colour they are.