Adam Haslett

Literary Birthday – 24 December – Adam Haslett

Happy Birthday, Adam Haslett, born 24 December 1970.


  1. That is much of what I think the writer’s job is – to slow people down. To give them the chance to notice the passage of time as experienced by others as a reminder of what it is like to be alive. Because we are most often distracted from that. Massively distracted.
  2. The miracle of a book is that it operates without the author, a word machine activated by others’ minds, and so of course my fondest wish is that it have that life independent of me.
  3. You have to expose part of yourself to create a character deep enough for readers to care about. You try not to because it’s hard and at times shameful, but then when you read those pages over and you see they have no life to them so you throw them away and force yourself to be more honest.
  4. For better or worse, I care a lot about holding my reader’s attention. Perhaps obsessively so. I think of myself as crafting an experience for her or him. And so I want them with me as I move through a scene or a thought.
  5. I always think you write against what you’re weakest at, and I always think what I am weakest at is plot.
  6. I grew up dyslexic and I read very slowly still, because I don’t know how to skim. I read every word of every sentence in order. I think I am very attuned to the sound of a sentence because of this.
  7. My interest is always to get as deeply as I can into the minds and spirits of the characters and let the readers empathise or judge as they will.
  8. My characters always begin with themselves, and so first it’s the relationship of the characters to themselves—that constant unending narration we have in our heads—and then they move into the world. And I want to track how they continue to relate to themselves once they encounter the world.
  9. Discovery is the joy.
  10. That’s what Proust calls it. On those rare occasions when the miracle of an analogy had made me escape from the present. That’s the only real life, the only thing that makes you know you’re alive – the backward ache. That’s what music is.

Adam Haslett is an American fiction writer. His collection of short stories entitled You Are Not a Stranger Here: Stories, was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Award and the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. His books include Union Atlantic and Imagine Me Gone.

Source for Image

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 24th December 2013