The word ‘novel’ carries, for me, a weight as ominous, all-consuming and unforgiving as any Job encountered.
I have nothing revolutionary or even novel to offer.
I’m snobby about books that aren’t crime fiction: if I start reading a literary novel and there’s no mystery emerging in the first few pages, I’m like, ‘Gah, this obviously isn’t a proper book. Why would I want to carry on reading it?’
Judgments and secrets are what make a good novel.
I developed a mania for Fitzgerald – by the time I’d graduated from high school I’d read everything he’d written. I started with ‘The Great Gatsby’ and moved on to ‘Tender Is the Night,’ which just swept me away. Then I read ‘This Side of Paradise,’ his novel about Princeton – I literally slept with that book under my pillow for two years.
Life in cities is not a spring but a river, or rather, a water main. It progresses like a novel, artificially.
I shall not be satisfied unless I produce something which shall for a few days supersede the last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies.
In 1965, when I was fourteen, I read my first adult novel; it was a historical novel about Katherine of Aragon, and I could not put it down. When I finished it, I had to find out the true facts behind the story and if people really carried on like that in those days. So I began to read proper history books, and found that they did!
I even feel guilty if I’m reading a novel, because I think I should be reading Homer again. I don’t really know what free time is, because I don’t have something to measure it against.
Poetry is as vital as ever. The teaching of poetry reading, however, is sluggish and, often, slovenly. It needs to be expanded in the school curriculum and be more a feature of society at large. The newspapers should all be carrying a daily poem. It should be as natural as reading a novel.