Literary Birthday – 6 November – Michael Cunningham

Happy Birthday, Michael Cunningham, born 6 November 1952.

Nine Quotes

  1. I suspect any serious reader has a first great book, just the way anybody has a first kiss.
  2. I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.
  3. A certain slightly cruel disregard for the feelings of living people is simply part of the package. I think a writer, if he’s any good, is not an entirely benign entity in the world.
  4. Here’s a secret. Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they’d intended to write.
  5. A writer should always feel like he’s in over his head.
  6. If you’ve really loved a book, or a movie for that matter, really loved it, what you want is that same book again, but as if you’ve never read it. And when you get something unfamiliar, you feel betrayed.
  7. Language in fiction is made up of equal parts meaning and music. The sentences should have rhythm and cadence, they should engage and delight the inner ear.
  8. The writer of fiction, no matter how edgy or unorthodox, is stuck with a simple and an inalterable truth. Literature is, inescapably, an act of seduction, whether the writer hopes to seduce millions with a story of an adolescent vampire in love, or a handful of readers, who are willing to take a darker, strange, more enigmatic ride. Which involves a certain element of what I’ll call: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.
  9. As writers we must, from our very opening sentence, speak with authority to our readers.

Michael Cunningham is an American writer. He is best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. Cunningham is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University.

Source for photo: David Shankbone, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michael_Cunningham_JB_by_David_Shankbone.jpg

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 6th November 2013

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