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" The rhythmical unit of the syllable is at the back of all of it - the word, the phrase, the sentence, the syntax, the paragraph, and the way the heart moves when you read it. "
" We'd never expect to understand a piece of music on one listen, but we tend to believe we've read a book after reading it just once. "
" People tend to see modernism as the opposite of a celebration. They see it as a fracturing and an art built round an absence, but it's really a celebration of our existence. "
" But everything written has style. The list of ingredients on the side of a cornflakes box has style. And everything literary has literary style. And style is integral to a work. How something is told correlates with - more - makes what's being told. A story is its style. "
" I was at the tail end of the family. The next brother along was already seven years older than me. I remember growing up by myself, playing games by myself. "
" My father is from Newark in Nottinghamshire and my mother is from the very north of Ireland. They've ended up in Scotland, where my father - well, both of them - will always be seen as having come from somewhere else. "
" It's the word 'artful'; it's such a great word, with its dark and its light side, its art and its cunning, the craft and the crafty of it - I've been preoccupied with the word 'artful' and the twin notions of 'cornucopia' and 'pickpocket' it suggests for quite some time. "
" Every great narrative is at least two narratives, if not more - the thing that is on the surface and then the things underneath which are invisible. "
" Fashion is fickle, and I was published because I was fashionable. Because I was gay. "
" I don't want a tombstone. You could carve on it 'She never actually wanted a tombstone.' "
" A good argument, like a good dialogue, is always a proof of life, but I'd much rather go and read a book. "
" I'm blessed in my good friends, and some of them happen to be writers, though that's almost never what our friendships are about. And every writer I've ever read, living or dead, has in one way or another helped and inspired. I have a feeling it's important not to mix the two up. "
" You never know if you're a writer. You can't trust it. If you woke up and said, 'I'm a writer,' it would be gone. You wouldn't see anything for miles - even the dust would be running away. "
" How could 30 years be the blink-of-the-eye it felt? It was the difference between black-and-white footage of the Second World War and David Bowie on 'Top of the Pops' singing 'Life on Mars.' "
" A game one of my sisters will play with me in my first year of being alive is called Good Baby, Bad Baby. This consists of being told I am a good baby until I smile and laugh, then being told I am a bad baby until I burst into tears. This training will stand me in good stead all through my life. "
" I had a job, I got ill, I left the job to get better, and while I was getting better, I wrote some stories. I sent them to some publishers and the fifth one who replied said they'd take them. Then they went bankrupt. Then that bankrupt publisher got bought by a bigger firm. Story: in the end is the beginning, and in the beginning is the end. "
" All we need to do, reader or writer, from first line to final page, is be as open as a book, and be alive to the life in language - on all its levels. "
" I went to the top of Vesuvius and looked in. "
" When we meet a work of art, there's something about that encounter that isn't fixed in time, but rather, it unfixes time: the shaft opens. The past and present exist in the same moment, and we know, as beings, that we are connected. All the people who lived before us, all who will come after us, are connected in this moment. "
" I have a theory, now - that the whole of the Renaissance was peopled with girls dressed as boys so they could make art. "
" Nothing is harmful to literature except censorship, and that almost never stops literature going where it wants to go either, because literature has a way of surpassing everything that blocks it and growing stronger for the exercise. "
" Even things which seem separate and finished are infinitely connected and will infinitely connect. This connection happens as soon as you let it, as soon as you engage - as soon as you even attempt to engage. "
" In the end, will truth matter? Of course truth will matter. Truth isn't relative. But there's going to be a great sacrifice on the way to getting truth to matter to us again, to finding out why it does, and God knows what shape that sacrifice will take. "
" What I know most is that the difference between us is what makes us interesting and attractive and problematic and exciting and vital to each other. Give me difference over indifference any day. "
" Short stories consume you faster. They're connected to brevity. With the short story, you are up against mortality. I know how tough they are as a form, but they're also a total joy. "