Happy Birthday, Don DeLillo, born 20 November 1936
Don DeLillo: On Writing
- First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there’s a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, become a carrier or messenger. The best moments involve a loss of control. It’s a kind of rapture, and it can happen with words and phrases fairly often—completely surprising combinations that make a higher kind of sense, that come to you out of nowhere. But rarely for extended periods, for paragraphs and pages—I think poets must have more access to this state than novelists do.
- I’ve come to think of Europe as a hard-cover book, America as the paperback version.
- American writers ought to stand and live in the margins, and be more dangerous.
- Every sentence has a truth waiting at the end of it and the writer learns how to know it when he finally gets there.
- For me, writing is a concentrated form of thinking.
- I think fiction comes from everything you’ve ever done, and said, and dreamed, and imagined. It comes from everything you’ve read and haven’t read…I think my work comes out of the culture of the world around me. I think that’s where my language comes from.
- I’ve always seen myself in sentences. I begin to recognise myself, word by word, as I work through a sentence.
- I like the construction of sentences and the juxtaposition of words-not just how they sound or what they mean, but even what they look like.
- The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence.
- Writers in repressive societies are considered dangerous. That’s why so many of them are in jail.
- Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some under culture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.
Don DeLillo is one of the most influential American writers of the past decades. He has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American Book Award (Underworld, 1998). DeLillo was granted the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2010. His sixteenth novel, Point Omega, was published in February, 2010.
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