Walter Kirn

Literary Birthday – 3 August – Walter Kirn

Happy Birthday, Walter Kirn, born 3 August 1962.


  1. Art, art of any kind, shows that folks are trying.
  2. My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests.
  3. Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it’s someone else’s witch being hunted.
  4. Writing books begins in talking about it, like most human projects, and in being close to those who have already done what you propose to do.
  5. In fourth grade, I learned that reading was serious business, not just a pleasant way to pass the time, and that like medicine or engineering, it had a definite, valuable purpose: to foster ‘comprehension’.
  6. A writer turns his life into material, and if you’re in his life, he uses yours, too.
  7. At the beginning of a novel, a writer needs confidence, but after that what’s required is persistence. These traits sound similar. They aren’t. Confidence is what politicians, seducers and currency speculators have, but persistence is a quality found in termites. It’s the blind drive to keep on working that persists after confidence breaks down.
  8. The market is the only critic that matters.
  9. God is a freaking character, with enough foibles, tantrums, and paradoxical behaviours to supply a thousand screenplays. But who do you cast?
  10. A writer who isn’t writing is asking for trouble.
  11. A writer has a use for his experiences that most civilians simply don’t; he or she discerns material in situations that others simply live through. Perhaps there are some who disapprove of this, but without this double consciousness, literature would not get made at all.
  12. I love reference books, especially collections of memorable quotations, almanacs, and atlases. Facts to me are like candy or popcorn – small, tasty delights – and I like to gorge on them now and then.
  13. I’m a magpie in my fiction, taking whatever looks shiny and curious to line the nest of my story.

Walter Kirn is an American novelist, literary critic, and essayist. He has written eight books, and is best known for Up in the Air, which was made into a film of the same name. Follow him on Twitter: @walterkirn

Source for image

Gil Roth, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 2nd August 2017