Ann Beattie

Literary Birthday – 8 September – Ann Beattie

Happy Birthday, Ann Beattie, born 8 September 1947.

Nine Quotes

  1. Clouds are poems, and the most moving poems linger on the blackboard so long, written in cursive so lovely, they also exist inside our fingertips. We never really erase them at the end of the lesson.
  2. I’m always amazed by my friends who were reading Samuel Beckett back when I was reading Wonder Woman. I didn’t think about books much in those days. I took a creative-writing course in high school, but only because it allowed me to skip gym.
  3. You have to figure out who the right person is to tell the story. And often, people who are very self-aware will only sound as if they are pontificating if they tell the story.
  4. It took me years and years to realise a very simple thing, which is that when you write fiction you’re raising questions, and a lot of people think you’re playing a little game with them and that actually you know the answers to the questions.
  5. Quite often my narrator or protagonist may be a man, but I’m not sure he’s the more interesting character, or if the more complex character isn’t the woman.
  6. I didn’t realise the asterisks were so prominent until I put together the stories for Park City, and I thought, When did you start using the asterisk? When did you start using the colon?
  7. I only have a certain bag of tricks. And that’s why little things, like ­punctuation, make such a big difference.
  8. Because I don’t work with an outline, writing a story is like crossing a stream, now I’m on this rock, now I’m on this rock, now I’m on this rock.
  9. I know that stories don’t really have conclusions. It’s only an appropriate moment for stopping.

Ann Beattie is an American short story writer and novelist. She won a PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. She is the author of  The Accomplished Guest: StoriesThe State We’re In: Maine Stories, and Walks With Men: Fiction.

Image: Juliet Trail, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 8th September 2013