Stacey D'Erasmo Quotes

  1. What interests me are the complexities and contradictions and struggles and joys of messy human beings.
  2. Readers, like writers, are essentially amoral. Arm’s length will never do. We want to get closer.
  3. I don’t go online when I’m writing – that’s the devil’s workshop – but in general, I’m on there as much as any other global citizen.
  4. My books – I kid you not – are very often shelved between DeLillo and de Sade. Which not only completely cracks me up, but it seems like an encouraging message from the universe: between those two, there’s a lot of wiggle room. I feel just fine there.
  5. I was influenced by big, strong voices – writers like Elizabeth Bowen, Virginia Woolf, Jane Bowles; gay writers like Ed White, Michael Cunningham, Allen Hollinghurst; and contemporary lesbian writers, like Dorothy Allison.
  6. All writers are magpies, right? We’re always stealing bits from different places and then weaving them into our little nest.
  7. A performer needs and craves a live audience.
  8. Visibility is a tricky thing; is someone visible when you can point her out in a crowd, or when you understand what her life feels like to her?
  9. The ambition of ‘Ten Thousand Saints,’ Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel about a group of unambitious lost souls, is beautiful. In nearly 400 pages, Henderson does not hold back once: she writes the hell out of every moment, every scene, every perspective, every fleeting impression, every impulse and desire and bit of emotional detritus.
  10. That feeling of being part of a group moving together is very powerful. It feels like it opens up a zone of possibility, a place for another self to form, also a place for a new world to form.
  11. On a deeper level, there’s a level of privacy that I need in order to work, and if there’s been a time when there’s been a lot of publicness in my life, it can be a little bit difficult to sort of rebuild that private space.
  12. As readers, we sense when the game is being played for real and when something else is afoot: pride, showmanship, the pursuit of power, self-aggrandizement, revenge, making money. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, but I dislike closing a book with the sense that I’ve been had.
  13. ‘The Girls,’ by Lori Lansens, is a ballad, a melancholy song of two very strange, enchanted girls who live out their peculiar, ordinary lives in a rural corner of Canada.
  14. You can conclude from the glossy surfaces of ‘The L Word’ that L stands for latte or Lexus and stop there. Or you can notice that in some of its less flashy moments, the show has staked a claim on Large – as in a larger, denser, more ambivalent imaginary world, populated by imperfect and riveting citizens of all sexual stripes.
  15. Of course, a secret is no good if it doesn’t need to be a secret.
  16. The songs in ‘Wonderland’ don’t have a melodic life for me – I’m not a musical person – but they have an emotional life, an emotional echo perhaps.
  17. The deeper changes wrought by the end of a particular outlaw culture: something will come of that … and it won’t be what we expect.
  18. Royalty mostly seem like members of some anachronistic faith, like the Amish, peculiar in gilded buggies.
  19. ‘The Girls’ tells the story of Rose and Ruby Darlen, who are not only literally but spiritually attached for eternity. Born joined at the head in 1974 to a feckless teenage mother who abandons them, and reared by a delightfully open-minded adoptive couple, the Darlen girls are darling girls, indeed.
  20. Emotional grandeur, rendered in the vernacular, has been Mona Simpson’s forte. In her novels, ‘Anywhere but Here,’ ‘The Lost Father’ and ‘A Regular Guy,’ Simpson wrote wide and long and high about the most profound human bonds: parents and children lost each other, found each other, lost each other again, but differently.
  21. What is the distance between here and there, between now and then, between right and wrong? In Greg Baxter’s pellucid first novel, ‘The Apartment,’ it may be simply the length of a day – but a day in which one travels surprisingly far, literally and figuratively.
  22. There is no such thing as a natural fit between form and content. Seamless elegance would be tantamount to erasure.
  23. Writers and musicians are very similar in that the chances of making a life in either field are so infinitesimal. And once you’re in, the chances of staying viable are difficult. But there is something incredibly different about performing in front of a live audience, as opposed to sitting at your desk typing.
  24. I’m embarrassed to reveal that I never went to CBGB’s in the ’80s. I was never cool enough to be a punk, and I wouldn’t have had the stamina, or the discipline, for straight-edge.
  25. Music is quicksilver, gossamer; careers are measured in butterfly lifetimes.
  26. A lot of times, really wonderful things that have come my way have come basically out of the blue.
  27. The railroads needed standardized time; as a result, the technology of train travel shaped the way everyone gets up, eats, goes to sleep, calculates age, and, perhaps of no small importance, imagine the world as a whole, ticking reliably, with reliable deviations, according to the beat of one central clock in a physical location.
  28. While ‘A Blessed Child’ might have been a more tough-minded book had Ullmann thrown a spanner into the works, it’s not hard to understand her decision to keep things going.
  29. In my family, we were on again off again Unitarians, partly because my father, raised Roman Catholic, had had enough of church.
  30. Historians of European royalty have written of the king’s ‘two bodies’ : one mortal and corrupt; the other divine, abstract and timeless.
  31. The knot of intimacy at the center of ‘Ten Thousand Saints’ is the friendship between Teddy McNicholas and Jude Keffy-Horn.
  32. Prior to the institutionalization of standard time, clocks were set using local meridians or local mean time, and they varied widely.
  33. I don’t know if my faith stems from what I’d call unconditional love, but the energy certainly feels boundless.
  34. The spirits of Havelock Ellis, Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebbing waft through the text to lend ‘The Third Sex’ an air of scientific authority.
  35. As for me, I’ve been in love with women and men. I get how people fall in love with different kinds of people, but to fall in love with God: I didn’t get that.
  36. I’m not a parent, but it seems to me the nature of parenting is contingent, full of unexpected challenges – which is one of the wonderful and amazing things about it.
  37. A bit of a theory, more a corner of the eye noticing than an airtight argument: in the course of long artistic careers, women are more likely than men to change form and style, Proteus-like.
  38. Fiction, at its best, is a radical act of intimacy. It seeks to join, to merge, to know deeply; and, as with intimacy, there is a way in which it cannot be faked.
  39. A touring band is a family and a workplace at the same time, and you’re living with people you didn’t necessarily choose every day for up to a year.
  40. A lot of first novels are coming-of-age stories. A lot are autobiographical.
  41. In my darker moments, I feel like the Queen of England, bound and gagged by reverence. Tin-crowned and irrelevant.
  42. Shelley Jackson’s ‘Half Life’ is the textual equivalent of an installation, a multivocal, polymorphous, dialogic, dystopian satire wrapped around a murder mystery wrapped around a bildungsroman.
  43. I write things in my house, and hopefully there’s a reader out there who enjoys it and has an experience with it, but that’s very different than a performer on stage, where there’s an immediate dance with the audience. It’s incredibly powerful.
  44. I’m a huge fan of San Francisco. And I was out here for a couple years in the mid-’90s when I was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford.
  45. For the Supreme Court, the right for everyone to say ‘I do’ is where the story ends, but for artists, it’s where the story just starts to get interesting.
  46. One of the things I’ve always loved about queer culture is the openness and passionate curiosity about love, desire and the myriad forms of affectionate ties.
  47. In each medium – popular music, literature, and visual art, respectively – the woman has broken form, shed a skin, with each phase of her career, whereas the man has returned to ever-deepening iterations of the sound or sentence or imagery with which he began.
  48. There are more clocks than ever – clocks on computers, on cell phones, on televisions, on any screen available, telling time to the digital second – but they all seem to matter less.
  49. You can get anything online, including things that don’t even exist. We’ve invented our own collective unconscious. The normal rules of time and space don’t apply. It’s held together by some other force than gravity. It’s endless. It’s like some unimaginably huge, messy novel that’s writing itself both with and without us.
  50. The much-lauded visual artist Roni Horn got her Master’s in Sculpture from Yale in the Seventies, but in the course of her career she has moved, among other media, from watercolors to photographs to floor-sized installations and mats of poured gold.
  51. I never thought much about God, certainly never wondered whether God was thinking about me, until I fell in love with a Zen Buddhist priest.
  52. One of the many pleasures of ‘Versailles’ is the way in which it seems to emanate not only from the vexed inner being of Marie Antoinette but from the interstices between what we imagine of her and what she was.
  53. In 1976, divorce could still raise eyebrows, as could a woman’s decision not to have children. Dyslexia wasn’t as commonly recognized then, and thus not treated as it is today.
  54. One of the first times that I went into a book store and saw a bunch of my books, my impulse was to put them all under my coat and run away so that no one else could see them, even though, of course, I wanted everyone to see them.
  55. As lightly toned by reality as the women on ‘Sex and the City,’ the bold, soigne characters on ‘The L Word’ suggest that L is also for limerence, that rapturous state of early love when the entire world is glowing and delectable.
  56. Reading ‘The Third Sex’ feels a bit like flying in a veering helicopter over a rain forest that is disappearing before one’s eyes.
  57. In her previous novels, Maggie O’Farrell has often measured the distance between intimates and the unexpected intimacy of distance – geographic, temporal, cultural. In ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ and ‘The Distance Between Us,’ characters separated by many miles or many years turn out to be joined in ways they never anticipated.
  58. The second time is the one we remember, where memory begins. Putting the moments in order is only half the story. What matters is the weight of the moments as they accumulate.
  59. If we are indeed nostalgic for the weight of clock time, it is worth remembering that the standardized time that most of us know has only been around since the mid-nineteenth century. It was invented for the railroads.

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