Literary Birthday – 26 June – Lev Grossman

Happy Birthday, Lev Grossman, born 26 June 1969.

10 Quotes On Writing

  1. A novel with a bad middle is a bad book. A bad ending is something I’ve just gotten in the habit of forgiving.
  2. Being a writer can be isolating. It’s good to be among readers and booksellers.
  3. How often have I met and disliked writers whose books I love; and conversely, hated the books and then wound up liking the writer? Too often.
  4. I think every fantasy reader secretly believes they know how magic works.
  5. I used to write in a local coffee shop, but there was another guy, another writer, who kept sitting in my favourite seat. I would show up, and he would be there, and I would get exiled to a couch or something, and it would throw me off my game. Then I figured out he was Jonathan Safran Foer. True Story.
  6. My book group has one rule: no books for adults. We read young adult fiction only.
  7. Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couch-bound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
  8. I read a lot of literary theory when I was in graduate school, especially about novels, and the best book I ever read about endings was Peter Brooks’s Reading for the Plot.
  9. As far as I can tell there are two kinds of fiction writers: those who read no fiction while they write, and those who constantly read fiction while they write. Let’s have cute names for them. We’ll call them Soloists and Thieves. I’m the second kind. I can’t function as a writer unless I’m reading somebody else — somebody better than me — and stripping off parts and reverse-engineering special effects and so on as I go.
  10. The novel won’t stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It’s about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic, and more deliriously fertile than ever.

Read: Lev Grossman’s 7 Tips For Writers

10 Quotes From Books

  1. The truth doesn’t always make a good story, does it?
  2. Everybody wanted to be the hero of their own story. Nobody wanted to be comic relief.
  3. If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.
  4. I got my heart’s desire, and there my troubles began.
  5. That was the thing about the world: it wasn’t that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn’t expect.
  6. He who completes a quest does not merely find something. He becomes something.
  7. It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.
  8. In a way fighting was just like using magic. You said the words, and they altered the universe. By merely speaking you could create damage and pain, cause tears to fall, drive people away, make yourself feel better, make your life worse.
  9. It’s time to live with what we have and mourn what we lost.
  10. Most people are blind to magic. They move through a blank and empty world. They’re bored with their lives, and there’s nothing they can do about it. They’re eaten alive by longing, and they’re dead before they die.

Lev Grossman is an American novelist and journalist. He is the author of the novels WarpCodexThe Magicians, and The Magician King. He is a senior writer and book critic for Time. Visit his website: and follow him on Twitter: @leverus

[Top Tip: Learn how to write fantasy. Buy The Fantasy Workbook]

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 26th June 2013