Happy Birthday, Jane Smiley, born 26 September 1949
10 Jane Smiley Quotes
- Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.
- Sometimes, a novel is like a train: the first chapter is a comfortable seat in an attractive carriage, and the narrative speeds up. But there are other sorts of trains, and other sorts of novels. They rush by in the dark; passengers framed in the lighted windows are smiling and enjoying themselves.
- Leaving any book store is hard, especially on a day in August, when the street outside burns and glares, and the books inside are cool and crisp to the touch; especially on a day in January, when the wind is blowing, the ice is treacherous, and the books inside seem to gather together in colourful warmth. It’s hard to leave a book store any day of the year, though, because a book store is one of the few places where all the cantankerous, conflicting, alluring voices of the world co-exist in peace and order and the avid reader is as free as a person can possibly be, because she is free to choose among them.
- Not every novel that wants to be a tragedy gets to be one.
- Eavesdrop and write it down from memory – gives you a stronger sense of how people talk and what their concerns are. I love to eavesdrop!
- A love story, at least a convincing one, requires three elements – the lover, the beloved, and the adventures they have together.
- A reader’s tastes are peculiar. Choosing books to read is like making your way down a remote and winding path. Your stops on that path are always idiosyncratic. One book leads to another and another the way one thought leads to another and another. My type of reader is the sort who burrows through the stacks in the book store or the library (or the Web site — stacks are stacks), yielding to impulse and instinct.
- Novelists of a conservative or more purely aesthetic bent hold up better on the surface, but their novels go in and out of fashion according to relevance or irrelevance.
- Write every day, just to keep in the habit, and remember that whatever you have written is neither as good nor as bad as you think it is. Just keep going, and tell yourself that you will fix it later.
- English majors understand human nature better than economists do.
Jane Smiley is an American author who has written 13 novels, four non-fiction books, and a collection of short stories. Her best-selling A Thousand Acres, a story based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992.
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