Literary Birthday – 28 March – Russell Banks

Russell Banks was born 28 March 1940 and died 7 January 2023.

Seven Quotes

  1. My major allegiance has been to storytelling, not to history.
  2. With a short story, I never know where I’m going until I get there. I just know where I entered. That is what comes to me—the opening, a sentence or phrase, even. But with a novel it’s like entering a huge mansion—it doesn’t matter where you come in, as long as you get in. I usually imagine the ending, not literally and not in detail, but I do have a clear idea whether it’s going to end with a funeral or wedding. Or if I am going to burn the mansion down or throw a dinner party at the end. The important question—the reason you write the novel—is to discover how you get from here to there.
  3. I think the reason you write, after all, is to inform your own life with a book that is made out of the subconscious materials of that life.
  4. Lists of books we reread and books we can’t finish tell more about us than about the relative worth of the books themselves.
  5. If you dedicate your attention to discipline in your life you become smarter while you are writing than while you are hanging out with your pals or in any other line of work.
  6. Storytelling is an ancient and honourable act. An essential role to play in the community or tribe. It’s one that I embrace wholeheartedly and have been fortunate enough to be rewarded for.
  7. The faster I can write, the more likely I’ll get something worth saving down on paper. From the very beginning, I’ve grabbed onto any technology that would allow me to write faster—a soft pencil instead of a hard pencil, ballpoint instead of a fountain pen, electric typewriter instead of manual, and now, working with light on a screen rather than marks on a page, I find that I can noodle and doodle and be much more spontaneous.

Russell Banks was an American writer of fiction and poetry. Two of his 11 novels, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction, have been made into award-winning motion pictures.

Source for Image: Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th March 2014