Allegra Goodman

Literary Birthday – 5 July – Allegra Goodman

Happy Birthday, Allegra Goodman, born 5 July 1967.


  1. Know your literary tradition, savour it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshipping greatness and fetishising masterpieces.
  2. Love your material. Nothing frightens the inner critic more than the writer who loves her work. The writer who is enamoured of her material forgets all about censoring herself. She doesn’t stop to wonder if her book is any good, or who will publish it, or what people will think. She writes in a trance, losing track of time, hearing only her characters in her head.
  3. The new one actually reads, but only to pass judgement. This is the way kids learn today. Someone told them how you feel is more important than what you know, and so they think accusations are ideas. This is political correction run amok.
  4. I suspect the popularity of young adults and dystopian novels has something to do with a desire for allegory and old-fashioned morality tales.
  5. I do think some games are works of art, although their medium is visual rather than verbal. Both games and novels allow the reader/player to become a protagonist in the theatre of the imagination. Both build worlds. In my opinion, the big difference between game and novel is in narrative structure. Communal role-playing games are open-plan without an end. A novel – at least the kind I write – has a closed structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like that closed structure, and I feel I can say more with it.
  6. I think poetry bridges text and image. Poetry is visual in its imagery – but it requires close attention to words themselves. Words become jewels in poetry, while they are often tools in other genres.

Allegra Goodman is an American author. Her most recent novel, The Chalk Artist, was published in 2017. Other novels include Intuition, The Cookbook Collector, Paradise Park, and Kaaterskill Falls (a National Book Award finalist). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and The American Scholar. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Salon Award for Fiction, and a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced study.

Photo: Nina Subin / Quotes

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 5th July 2020