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Words to Write By

Nelson Algren, from his 1955 interview in The Paris Review:

I do have the feeling that other writers can't help you with writing. I've gone to writers' conferences and writers' sessions and writers' clinics, and the more I see of them, the more I'm sure it's the wrong direction. It isn't the place where you learn to write. I've always felt strongly that a writer shouldn't be engaged with other writers, or with people who make books, or even with people who read them. I think the farther away you get from the literary traffic, the closer you are to sources. I mean, a writer doesn't really live, he observes.

It's a terrific interview, one which I highly recommend. Of particular interest is his telling how he fell into the morphine addiction aspect of Frankie Machine, the protagonist of The Man With the Golden Arm. Algren's first draft of the novel didn't have Frankie as an addict at all.

September 14, 2006 in Books | Permalink

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