Literary Birthday – 25 May – John Gregory Dunne

John Gregory Dunne was born 25 May 1932 and died 30 December 2003.


  1. Writing is a manual labour of the mind: a job, like laying pipe.
  2. New York is at once cosmopolitan and parochial, a compendium of sentimental certainties. It is in fact the most sentimental of the world’s great cities – in its self-congratulation a kind of San Francisco of the East.
  3. The point of a notebook is to jump-start the mind.
  4. I’ve always thought a novelist only has one character and that is himself or herself.
  5. Novels do take charge of the writer, and the writer is basically a kind of sheepdog just trying to keep things on track.
  6. Violence is the way stupid people try to level the playing field.
  7. The professional guts a book through – in full knowledge that what he is doing is not very good. Not to work is to exhibit a failure of nerve.
  8. Because one has written other books does not mean the next becomes any easier.
  9. A writer is an eternal outsider, his nose pressed against whatever window on the other side of which he sees his material.
  10. I’m a great believer in the novelist being ‘on the scene’, reporting, travelling, meeting all sorts of people.

John Gregory Dunne was an American novelist, screenwriter and literary critic. He and his wife, Joan Didion, collaborated on a series of screenplays, including The Panic in Needle Park, A Star Is Born, and True Confessions, which was an adaptation of Dunne’s novel of the same name. He also wrote a non-fiction book about Hollywood, Monster: Living Off the Big Screen.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 24th May 2017