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"But then, when a woman writer laments her sexual excess, even the title and design of the book changes whatever tragedy is there and instead aggrandizes or flourishes it, seeming to be saying that it's the ultimate cool to admit to sexual excess, tacitly saying: look, so many people wanted me or were turned on by me; that's female success. At least that's how it comes off, especially to someone like me. I saw women who were sexually adventurous -- and not all of them claiming it was harmful to their lives -- being extolled and called brave, and wondered what the hell went wrong in my life that none of that even seemed to present itself as a possibility I could choose to follow."
"I believe dignity and tenderness could apply to reading too, and talking about reading: my modern romances. We sit down, we stay, then we stand up with something new in our heads. Leslie Scalapino says a novel means you start at the beginning and you read to the end. There’s a before, and an after. Brian Eno says if you listen to a song again and it sounds different, you know you’re the one who’s changed."
"She wished to tell me how horrible it was to be part of the experiment, and what it did to her brother, what it did to her family. Although it's not clear to me whether the damage to the family was done by the experiment itself or by having the kind of father who would do an experiment like this and who, therefore, was the kind of father who did other things as well; clearly, not a great father. It was a shock too, because I knew that the boy, Donald, who was involved in the experiment, had died quite some time ago. And I did not know there was another child. So I wrote about this family and it did not occur to me that any of them would be reading it."
Teresa Burns Gunther
Two writers in wartime Italy, distantly related, Jews, women, and each at times politically rebellious: Margherita Sarfatti and Natalia Ginzburg were both faced with these dilemmas: what is my relationship to the inside, and what is my relationship to truth? The two women left terribly accomplished lives behind them, with long bibliographies, periods of fame and renown, and each a lifetime devoted to the world of arts in some way. And yet, their lives and legacies are markedly different.
"Comedy is something I draw on very heavily in my writing. The point is, however, that my comedy always has bite -- it's not humor for its own sake. The novel isn't "lightweight." Its intent is very serious. I consider it a comi-tragic novel. The tragedy is that Carmel has been married to a gay man for fifty years and suffered as a consequence, and that Barry has lived a lie all his adult life. Comedy is very hard to pull off and I think it's often more powerful than fiction that is devoid of humor."
"An awful lot of people of my generation or around my age who moved abroad had a greed for great happiness, and not really any economic reasons, but just because it was sunny out. That kind of mindset, that kind of hubris, really -- that idea that you can just geographically relocate or purchase greater happiness -- I was familiar from when I moved abroad with that sense of directionlessness, and also almost this terrible, failed responsibility that I wasn't super happy all the time in this beautiful, sunny environment. I contrasted that with how I imagine my parents felt when they came to England. It was predicated on completely different grounds... It was just economic survival, and they, I imagine, didn't have much time or scope to feel directionless. They just had to get on with it."
"Is the ability to make life changes that is always within 'you'? This question is not resolved in The President's Hat. The final character to find and wear the hat in the book, Bernard Lavallière, is a man from the upper and very conservative class. After wearing the hat, he begins to have Socialist thoughts and starts quite a revolution in his life. With these drastic changes comes the notion that maybe there is something magic inside François Mitterrand's hat. The reader will never know exactly what happened with Bernard, it's a part of the charm of the book. This fairy tale aspect makes the reader think about himself or herself. I mean, you the reader... What would you like to change in your life? How would your life be different had you chosen a different path at any point in your life?"