Paul Theroux (b. April 10): “Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.”

10 Apr

Paul Theroux, born 10 April 1941, is an American travel writer and novelist. The Great Railway Bazaar is his most famous work of non-fiction. He is best known for his novel The Mosquito Coast. He is the father of British authors and documentary makers Louis Theroux and Marcel Theroux.

Quotes on writing:

  1. Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.
  2. Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.
  3. The more you write, the more you’re capable of writing.
  4. A novel captures essence that is not possible in any other form.
  5. You can’t write about a friend, you can only write about a former friend.
  6. I’m constantly running across people who have never heard of books I think they should read.
  7. Fiction writing, and the reading of it, and book buying, have always been the activities of a tiny minority of people, even in the most-literate societies.
  8. I know there are writers who feel unhappy with domesticity and who even manufacture domestic turmoil in order to have something to write about. With me, though, the happier I feel, the better I write.
  9. Mark Twain was a great traveler and he wrote three or four great travel books. I wouldn’t say that I’m a travel novelist but rather a novelist who travels – and who uses travel as a background for finding stories of places.
  10. I can’t predict how reading habits will change. But I will say that the greatest loss is the paper archive – no more a great stack of manuscripts, letters, and notebooks from a writer’s life, but only a tiny pile of disks, little plastic cookies where once were calligraphic marvels.
  11. Many aspects of the writing life have changed since I published my first book, in the 1960s. It is more corporate, more driven by profits and marketing, and generally less congenial – but my day is the same: get out of bed, procrastinate, sit down at my desk, try to write something.
  12. Reading alters the appearance of a book. Once it has been read, it never looks the same again, and people leave their individual imprint on a book they have read. One of the pleasures of reading is seeing this alteration on the pages, and the way, by reading it, you have made the book yours.

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