Literary Birthday – 8 November – Joshua Ferris

Happy Birthday, Joshua Ferris, born 8 November 1974.


  1. I think a fairly common behaviour among writers is that they want to help. They’re generally charitable people. They’re interested in the world. They’re curious, they’re empathetic. They understand suffering. They don’t turn away from that. But what they do is essentially useless. Except for the sake of the thing itself.
  2. Work does play an important role in literature. It just doesn’t mirror the importance or merit the attention it gets in real life.
  3. We are no longer individuals so much as we are brands. We’re individual brands. Individuals are basically left to define their individuality by staying off the internet, which in and of itself can be a brand, the opting-out brand.
  4. One breakthrough for me, in terms of the writing, was that I ditched backstory prior to starting the action.
  5. In any society like ours, run on the capitalist model, we tend to work a lot, but for whatever reason, we don’t have many books that take a long hard look at that fact.
  6. Names generate meaning in a short amount of space—they provoke thoughts, questions. That’s something I like doing. Of course, you have to be careful. Sometimes it can alienate the reader, it can be another level of mediation, to make a character carry the great burden of a metaphoric name. The character can be a device before he or she becomes a person.
  7. All broken hearts are circumstantial. Every lovelorn jerk is the victim of bad timing, good intentions, and someone else’s poor decision making.
  8. I think the internet takes a lot of the anxiety of life away. It’s a kind of deity. You’re never lonely. You’re always distracted. If you spend enough time on it, there’s not really that nagging sensation of existential despair; it erases it very effectively.
  9. We’re no longer dealing in the world of the real in a truthful way. We’re interacting with each other in shiny homepages. I don’t think that makes for honest communication.
  10. Good fiction is a recapitulation of a dream, and when revelation and epiphany strike, they have a very dream-like quality about them. There’s that intense feeling of discovery one gets when one knows something that wasn’t known before.

Joshua Ferris is an American author and short story writer. He is best known for his debut 2007 novel Then We Came to the End. His third novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

Source for Image

James Mitchell from London, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 8th November 2014