I get invited to do panels with other Brooklyn writers to discuss what it’s like to be a writer in Brooklyn. I expect it’s like writing in Manhattan, but there aren’t as many tourists walking very slowly in front of you when you step out for coffee.
His legs remembered the correct position for squatting down with toys. He played. He fit the round male studs into the round female grooves. He got some thinking done as he hunkered down on his fallen-sleep legs.
Talking about New York is a way of talking about the world.
I’d never been much of an athlete, due to a physical condition I’d had since birth (unathleticism). Perhaps if there were a sport centered around lying on your couch in a neurotic stupor all day, I’d take an interest.
Isn’t it great when you’re a kid and the world is full of anonymous things? Everything is bright and mysterious until you know what it is called and then all the light goes out of it…Once we knew the name of it, how could we ever come to love it?…For things had true natures, and they hid behind false names, beneath the skin we gave them.
It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect.
Growing up devouring horror comics and novels, and being inspired to become a writer because of horror novels, movies, and comic books, I always knew I was going to write a horror novel.
Memory is the most malicious cutter of all, preserving, recasting, panning in slow motion across the awful bits so that we retain every detail.
New York City does not hold our former selves against us. Perhaps we can extend the same courtesy.
When it comes to how the slaves treat each other: If you’ve been brutalized all your life – if you have seen your children sold or your mother beaten and raped and you have been tortured yourself – you are not going to be up for your best behaviour. Even in the 21st century, 100 people in the midst of terrible suffering are not going to be their best people.
Twenty years ago, when I started writing, I didn’t define myself as an African-American writer. And then you write books and you’re focused on what’s inside your books, and that kind of term is generally used on the outside, by the critical establishment.
The Declaration of Independence is that sacred American text so full of meaning and purpose and yet quite empty if you examine it and pull it apart because the words "All Men" exclude a vast number of citizens.
What does the perfect elevator look like, the one that will deliver us from the cities we suffer now, these stunted shacks? We don’t know because we can’t see inside it, it’s something we cannot imagine, like the shape of angels’ teeth. It’s a black box.
A society manufactures the heroes it requires.
Being a slave meant never having the stability of knowing your family would be together as many years as God designed it to be. It meant you could come back from picking cotton in a field to find that your children are gone, your husband’s gone, your mother’s gone. It meant knowing you are property that could be sold to the highest bidder, of value only to continue to support the plantation economy.
As I get older and write more books I’m definitely allowing the humorous side of my personality more rein in my work.
Most people say, "Show, don’t tell," but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do.
The only time "early bloomer" has ever been applied to me is vis-a-vis my premature apprehension of the deep dread-of-existence thing. In all other cases, I plod and tromp along. My knuckles? Well dragged.
To put off the inevitable, we try to fix the city in place, remember it as it was, doing to the city what we would never allow to be done to ourselves. . . . New York City does not hold our former selves against us. Perhaps we can extend the same courtesy.
These days I find myself wanting to avoid being pigeon-holed, ghettoized, held in a different category than other authors. And when people ask me if I’m a black writer, or just a writer who happens to be black, I tend to say that it’s either a dumb question or a question which happens to be dumb.
It had been a humdrum couple of days, reaffirming his belief in reincarnation: everything was so boring that this could not be the first time he’d experienced it.
You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now.
I think each book has its own way of accommodating my concerns, whether it’s about race, America, technology, the city.
What isn’t said is as important as what is said.
The city knows you better than any living person because it has seen you when you are alone.
Sanctimony and self-regard are as American as smallpox blankets and supersize meals.
In terms of why everything is different, each book is different than the one before because I’m so bored of what I just finished I want to work on something different. The next book becomes an antidote to what I did before.
The fallout from slavery is ongoing. I am not sure the issue of race in America will ever be completely solved.
I write books and either people read them or they don’t read them. The rise of Facebook or e-books doesn’t change the difficulty level of writing sentences and thinking up new ideas.
I write the books that I’m compelled to and I definitely learn things about the world when I write them, and I hope that other people get something out of them, enjoy them, see the world differently when they’re done.
In terms of the economics, yes obviously the rise of e-books and how people choose to read books has a big effect on the economics of the game. But whether people are buying them on paper or downloading them there’s still some poor wretch in a room who is trying to write a poem, write a story, write a novel. And so my job doesn’t change. It’s just how people receive it and economic conditions on the ground change, but that doesn’t affect what I write.
In keeping with my family’s affection for doomed product lines and hexed formats, we purchased a Betamax. The year before, we’d bought a TRS-80 instead of an Apple II, and in due course we’d unbox Mattel’s Intellivision, instead of Atari’s legendary gizmo. This was good training for a writer, for the sooner you accept the fact that you are a deluded idiot who is always out of step with reality the better off you will be.
I can’t say that you should extract this or that value from my books explicitly. They are up for interpretation. In terms of the obligation, I think we’re all individuals on this planet, trying to scratch our way through the day, and if you’re writing a book exposing atrocities in Rwanda or writing a murder mystery set in a mountain village, I think both ways of spending you time are valid and both books are probably fine to read.
A monster is a person who has stopped pretending.
We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them.