I studied English literature in the honors program, which means that you had to take courses in various centuries. You had to start with Old English, Middle English, and work your way toward the modern. I figured if I did that it would force me to read some of the things I might not read on my own.
You can tell when something's not moving forward anymore. When the doubts you have about it don't go away.
I think the suicides in my first book came from the idea of growing up in Detroit. If you grow up in a city like that you feel everything is perishing, evanescent and going away very quickly.
I have a very beautiful room that in my house that we bought in Princeton. It's glass on three sides, and you'd think that's the perfect place to write. Somehow in that nice room I feel too exposed, and I can notice I'm too distracted by things going on, so I end up writing in a not-very-nice office bedroom.
I think it is important to remind people of the extent of our free will.
I have a good memory for early life. My visual memory is good about childhood and adolescence, and less good in the last 10 years. I could probably tell you less what happened in the last 10 years. I remember what houses looked like, sometimes they just pop into my head.
I think, especially when you're in college, each book that you're reading tends to tell you who you are.
I mean, when I got to Brown, the place was riven, because you had older professors who were basically new critics and had been teaching a certain way for 30 years. And then you had this other gang who was down with the semiotic program. And as a student, you were, in a way, forced to choose which cohort you were going with.
The book has many different characteristics: some are extremely old-fashioned storytelling traits, but there are also a fair number of postmodern traits, and the self-consciousness is one.
Well, marriage doesn't function in the way it used to in terms of deciding our fate, but it's in our heads, and it determines a lot of our actions. Like, right now, if you think about gay marriage - and they just started having the first gay marriages in New York - it shows what a potent idea marriage remains for people.
I had a briefcase at one point, but it was a kind of 1980s New Wave briefcase. It was made of some kind of cardboard and it had metal hinges. It was kind of faux industrial looking, and I used to carry my books in it rather than a backpack. I didn't want to have normal student accoutrements.
I know that attaching memories to books may be going out of the world, but while it lasts, it's a strong record of your life.
One of the reasons that art is important to me is sometimes it actually feels more coherent than life. It orders the chaos.
That's the way I will write characters, put a fair amount of myself in them, and then everyone else who was like that person, I will pick and choose.
Usually my ideas are small.
He knew a lot about his grandparents - and perhaps he feels he's been endowed with abilities to go into people's heads who are long dead - but, to a certain extent, he's making it up.
I approach writing female characters the same why I approach writing male characters. I never think I'm writing about women, I think I'm writing about one woman, one person. And I try to imagine what she is like, and endow her with a lot of my own thoughts and history.
I have a lot of novels that I haven't finished. I usually get 150 pages in and I realize it's not going anywhere. I don't publish everything I write. I must have six unfinished novels at least.
I'm not really an autobiographical writer, though I use lots of stuff from my life to make my stories seem real. But when I actually write about myself, I get very confused.
It wasn't conscious, but I guess that one book is the reaction to the other. The first is so imprisoned in a male point-of-view, and the second is a point-of-view that can go anywhere it wants.