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All Quotes by author - Colm Toibin
" All writing is a form of manipulation, of course, but you realize that a plain sentence can actually do so much. "
" Anyone who works in the arts knows, if you're writing a novel or a play or anything, you have to be ready for someone to say, 'Your time is up.' "
" Between the ages of 8 and 12 it was difficult to know what my father was saying, and he moved very slowly, and then he died. "
" Between the time I was 16 until I was about 20, the books I read were by people like Thomas Mann, James Baldwin, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Bishop. All gay, of course, although I swear I didn't know that at the time. Yet all of them, it turned out, had had a parent who died during their childhood. Sexuality is nothing compared to that. "
" Describe character using dialogue. Describe character using what the characters see or do or think, but not what they had done or where they had been. "
" Everyone who's in America spends the first few years not experiencing it. The person is frightened by the newness of the place and doesn't see things. Her emotional universe becomes the entire universe. And then when she thinks of home, her distance in space can seem like a distance in time. "
" History is a way of interpreting, rather than, say, knowing, the past. It is usually a set of disputes between those who have access to the same sources. It depends on ideology as much as voting in an election does. "
" I am violently untidy. My desk is overcrowded. I write my first drafts in longhand in a long notebook using a plastic throwaway fountain pen. Then I work on a word processor using a different desk and a different room. "
" I did think of becoming a priest quite late on, when other boys were thinking of knocking over fences and going out with girls. I would have made a very good bishop: nice housekeeper, nice clothes - god, the clothes. "
" I don't think we have a right to enjoy our neuroses; in fact, I believe that we have a duty not to. But we cannot walk away from ourselves. Who else is there to become? "
" I feel just fine about ignoring or bypassing the rights of people I have known and loved to be rendered faithfully, or to be left in peace, and out of novels. "
" I first went to Barcelona in 1975 after university, and I stayed for three years. I learnt Catalan because that's what everyone speaks in the mountains. They speak English to foreigners, but what people say to each other is much more important than what they say to you. "
" I have to write a first draft with a fountain pen before I type it up as a second. "
" I lived in the Republic of Ireland. I wrote a book about the North but as an outsider. The hatreds there were not mine. I never felt them. I liked how open in most ways Catalan nationalism was, compared to Irish nationalism. I disliked the violence and cruelty in Ireland. "
" I live in words. I like looking at things, but I don't have a strong visual imagination. "
" I'm slightly influenced by sport in that I like the idea of trying, like an athlete, to keep absolutely ready. That's an emotional thing, almost. I don't mean physically, although I play tennis. But you try to keep yourself ready. "
" I never listen to music when I am writing. It would be impossible. I listen to Bach in the mornings, mostly choral music; also some Handel, mostly songs and arias; I like Schubert's and Beethoven's chamber music and Sibelius' symphonies; for opera, I listen to Mozart and in recent years Wagner. "
" In Ireland, novels and plays still have a strange force. The writing of fiction and the creation of theatrical images can affect life there more powerfully and stealthily than speeches, or even legislation. Imagined worlds can lodge deeply in the private sphere, dislodging much else, especially when the public sphere is fragile. "
" In my 20s, as I began to travel in Europe, I found comfort in religious paintings. Even though my own belief in Catholic dogma had been shaken and weakened, I found that the beauty and the richness of the art still held me. "
" I said that when I looked at photographs of the firefighters who went into the Twin Towers, their faces looked to me like Irish faces. I hadn't yet learnt how careful outsiders have to be when talking about race in America, and I'd put my foot in it. Someone stood up and said aggressively, 'What do you mean by Irish faces?' "
" I still have a stammer that I can control by not opening a sentence with a hard consonant, or by concentrating for a moment, breathing softly down. Growing up, the 'Our Father' was lovely, made for me, the 'Hail Mary' was gorgeous, and 'Glory Be to the Father' was an absolute nightmare. "
" I suppose one should have an integrated personality, but I've never really seen the point. "
" I think fiction lends itself to messiness rather than the ideal, and plays well with the ironies surrounding what happens versus what should happen. "
" I think that was one of the things that happened, especially in Ireland, that you left in order to improve yourself, and you couldn't write home and tell people, 'Look, I'm really lonely,' because you'd realize how much those letters were going to matter, that you needed to put good news or uplifting news into them. "
" I think the whole business of people emigrating was that no one ever told them, although everyone knew, especially if it was to the United States, that it was forever, and the party before you left was called an 'American wake,' in the sense that they knew you wouldn't come back. "
" I think you can get a sort of intensity and an edginess offering nine stories in a book. Competing versions of things. "
" It is important to find a publisher and equally important not to be noticed until your third or fourth book. "
" It may be enough to study history in all its nuance and ambiguity for its own sake. But there is no country free of the need to find new ways of reading the past as an inspiring way of thinking about everything else, including the present. "
" It really matters to writers to find and treasure readers, all the more when they're on the other side of the world. "
" I've never put Northern Ireland into a novel because it's not my territory. I come from the South, so my imaginative territory is very much the Republic of Ireland rather than the North. Even though, if I wrote a novel about the North, it might sell more. "
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