Scott Turow Quotes

  1. I count myself as one of millions of Americans whose life simply would not be the same without the libraries that supported my learning.
  2. The first time I remember really being excited about a book was ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’
  3. I tend to start with a kernel, a vague concept, and just begin to write things down – notes about a character, lines of dialogue, descriptive passages about a place. One idea fires another. I do that for about a year. By then there’s a story, and I’ll go on to a complete first draft that sews many of those ragtag pieces together.
  4. I write based on powerful inner impulses, and those seem to shift over time.
  5. I really believe that the movie will never be as good as the book, both because the book goes on longer – a movie is basically an abridgment of a book – and because books are internal. But they are incredibly powerful. The visual format is, you know, amazing.
  6. In re-reading ‘Presumed Innocent,’ the one thing that struck me – and I re-read the book four different times in writing ‘Innocent,’ interested in different things each time – but I did think there were a couple of extra loops in the plot that I probably didn’t need. The other thing that sort of amazed me was how discursive the book was.
  7. Now, many public libraries want to lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection. In this new reality, the only incentive to buy, rather than borrow, an e-book is the fact that the lent copy vanishes after a couple of weeks.
  8. The hardest part is not to repeat yourself. I don’t really believe my core obsessions are going to change, but you need to look for ways to express them that are different. The main reason for doing that is not to bore yourself, and obviously, I don’t want to bore readers.
  9. On the streets, unrequited love and death go together almost as often as in Shakespeare.
  10. I spent four of my five years at Stanford writing a novel I was unable to sell.
  11. Musicians make up for the copies of their songs that get pirated by performing live. I don’t think there will be as many people showing up to hear me read as to hear Beyonce sing. We need to make sure piracy is dealt with effectively.
  12. I’ve never been under the illusion that everybody on death row is innocent – far from it. My own guess is upwards of 90 percent are guilty. But a ten percent error rate if that’s what it is, or even five percent, is really way too high.
  13. Libraries function as crucial technology hubs, not merely for free Web access, but those who need computer training and assistance. Library business centers help support entrepreneurship and retraining.
  14. I’ve become President of the Author’s Guild, and, in part because they thought I had to know what I was talking about and also as a sort of coronation present, they got me an iPad. And I have to tell you, I’m crazy about it. It’s got some bugs, but it’s basically replaced my laptop. I’m very happy with it.
  15. Amazon can’t be all good or all bad. I don’t think that everything they do is evil; they’ve given a lot of authors access.
  16. I think lawyers have a fidelity to the system itself that’s always got to be with them, and indeed, most of the defense lawyers I know observe that.
  17. My sister was a twin, and the other baby died in childbirth, and I was three at the time, and I always kind of thought it haunted me. It was a weird thing. My dad was an ob-gyn, and so it was confusing that the other baby didn’t come home from the hospital.
  18. I keep two sentimental mementos on my desk to remind me of two favorite men. There is an inkwell that my Uncle Seymour made, a brass grotesque he mounted on a marble base. And my grandfather’s shaving cup is there, used to store pencils and pens.
  19. The great break of my literary career was going to law school.
  20. I love criminal law. It must be the Dostoyevskian streak in me. I’m fascinated by the accumulation of forces that make people behave in ways that everybody else hates.
  21. I read little nonfiction, but I have no boundaries about the fiction I relish. The only unfailing criterion is that I can hitch my heart to the imagined world and read on.
  22. I don’t like re-writing very much. The fourth and the fifth draft – that’s too much like work. There’s not much inspiration about it, and the lawyerly side kicks in – being very careful and somewhat technical.
  23. Being a lawyer, even in a city as large as Chicago, is like being a citizen of a small town. I love watching the life of the town play out. You know, the rise and fall of individual lives in the entire community is just fascinating to me.
  24. I hate second-guessing other lawyers because I know that I’ve tried and lost cases, and somebody could sit there and say, ‘Should have done it this way,’ and they’d have been right.
  25. I think one of the blessings that I’ve had in watching, you know, films be made now from four of my books is to realize that it’s a separate thing. It’s a separate work.
  26. Only in the mystery novel are we delivered final and unquestionable solutions. The joke to me is that fiction gives you a truth that reality can’t deliver.
  27. I’m an ambitious person, and Harvard makes me feel successful, just having gotten in here. That’s the ugly side of why I’m proud of being at Harvard Law School. Another reason is because there’s a spirit of serious intellectual endeavor here.
  28. Like most Americans of my age, I was very impressed by the dynamic capacities of the law, demonstrated by the Civil Rights Movement and then Watergate, animated by Sam Ervin’s mantra that no person is above the law.
  29. Widespread public access to knowledge, like public education, is one of the pillars of our democracy, a guarantee that we can maintain a well-informed citizenry.
  30. I never really felt free to talk a lot about my family life because I don’t want to sacrifice anybody else’s privacy. If you look through the archives, you will see, for example, no pictures of my children. That is not because I don’t love them. I think I’ve been a really good dad; at least, I try to be.
  31. Americans have grown a great deal more realistic about lawyers and the law. I think that’s all for the good. A lot of people will say to you these days, ‘If you are looking for justice, don’t go to a courtroom.’ That’s just a more realistic perspective on what happens in the legal process.
  32. The one thing I would like more credit for is being part of a movement which involves recognising the importance of plot and asserting that books of literary worth could be written that had plots.
  33. I’m a computer guy, and one of the things I did with the good fortune that ‘Presumed Innocent’ brought me was to buy one of the very first laptop computers. It weighed about eight and a half pounds, by the way.
  34. All my novels are about the ambiguities that lie beneath the sharp edges of the law.
  35. There are a whole lot of little tales told in ‘Presumed Innocent,’ whether it’s about the Hobberly kid, who was an important witness who ends up assassinated, or an accountant named Marcy Lupino, who meets a horrible fate in a state penitentiary. There’s less of that in ‘Innocent,’ and deliberately so.
  36. I practise law almost every day. Exclusively criminal work these days.
  37. ‘Black Beauty,’ by Anna Sewell, remains a star-dusted memory because my mom read it aloud to my sister and me at night for months. I was no more than 7.
  38. The truth of the matter is that the people who succeed in the arts most often are the people who get up again after getting knocked down. Persistence is critical.
  39. ‘Reversible Errors’ is about the limits of the law to define who committed ultimate evil, to define what ultimate evil is, to allow the million arbitrary factors to make this a meaningful punishment, and finally to say, ‘Are we really accomplishing what we wanted to accomplish? Are those anxieties relieved?’ I don’t think so.
  40. There are lots of things about Amazon for which they deserve credit. They’re innovative. There are lots of very, very happy Amazon customers. I’m not here to dispute that Amazon has been personally good for me or to say that they haven’t been, so far, good to their customers.
  41. I don’t know if a novelist ever fully detaches him- or herself from what they wrote and the way they wrote it. I can watch ‘Presumed Innocent’ again and again, and I will always be bothered by the same things that will never bother anybody else.
  42. I adore the company of other writers because they are so often lively minds and, frequently, blazingly funny. And of course, we get each other in a unique way.
  43. Certainly, when I was a boy, people liked to believe that lawyers were kind of pillars of goodness of the likes of Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’
  44. Because I spend so much time traveling, I tend to do most of my reading on the same iPad on which I write. For me, it’s words, not paper, that matter most in the end. This practice has had the additional benefit of greatly reducing the time I spend storming through the house, defaming the mysterious forces who ‘hid my book.’
  45. If life’s lessons could be reduced to single sentences, there would be no need for fiction.
  46. ‘Presumed Innocent’ was written over a six to seven year period with intervals in between where I was figuring out the end of the book and writing other stuff… My life as a writer was carried on against the odds. I had written four unpublished novels by then… as a writer of fiction, I hadn’t gotten very far. I just wanted to do it.
  47. You know, my mom, who inspired me to be a novelist, I remember her reading ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy,’ about Michelangelo, and saying, ‘No mother would want that for her child, no matter how great the artist.’ I have my share of demons, but I am a gregarious sort.
  48. I tend to write in the mornings.
  49. I’m of that generation of Jews still deeply influenced by the Holocaust. Certainly the notion that the state power to kill can be subject to such extraordinary abuse is always lurking beneath the surface for me. Certainly my experience and identity as a Jew is there.
  50. The prosecutor, who is supposed to carry the burden of proof, really is an author.
  51. Generally, I like to write in the morning before all the dust of dreams has blown away. Beforehand, I read two papers, cook my breakfast and then settle down in front of the word processor, usually by 8 A.M. I’ll write, and then check e-mail or voicemail when things stall.
  52. All my life, I’ve wanted to write a book inspired by my relationship with my grandfather. Basically, my grandfather was a guy who everybody in the family regarded as disagreeable at best. But I loved him intensely. He was wonderful to me.
  53. The purpose of narrative is to present us with complexity and ambiguity.
  54. I always say, and I mean it, that the great break of my literary career was when I went to law school.
  55. I was one of those kids who never wanted to be anything but a novelist. And I don’t know a lot of people who truly live the life that they dreamed of.
  56. People talk of me as being the inventor of the legal thriller.
  57. Los Angeles for many years had operated with a police department that was far smaller than other police departments had in areas of comparable or larger size, New York and Chicago being the most obvious examples.
  58. I grew up on the north side of Chicago, in West Rogers Park, an overwhelmingly Jewish neighborhood. When I was 13, my parents moved to Winnetka, Illinois, an upper class, WASPy suburb where Jews – as well as Blacks and Catholics – were unwelcome on many blocks. I suffered the spiritual equivalent of whiplash.
  59. I trained as a writer before I became a lawyer. I was headed for a life as an English professor, but that just wasn’t me. I’m not a scholar; I didn’t have a scholar’s attitude toward literature.
  60. For thousands and thousands of American kids, libraries are the only safe place they can find to study, a haven free from the dangers of street or the numbing temptations of television. As schools cut back services, the library looms even more important to countless children.
  61. The American preoccupation with the law, which is certainly not past, was at its zenith in 1995. The 1980s, the late 1980s, had sort of begun to percolate up to public consciousness this enormous interest in the law.
  62. I am a big believer in the fact that all authors really write only one book.
  63. Postmodernism cost literature its audience.

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