Barry Hannah 1942-2010

"Well, yeah, I’m proud, but I tell you, the older you get as a writer, the more modest you get and the more you should shut up. You’re less arrogant, with good reason. There’s just a hell of a lot going on in the world. You’ve not penetrated too many consciousnesses. When I was twenty-one, I thought that you write a book and the world paid attention, man. There was no doubt. Then you grow up and you see that that’s not it at all. That you have to love it itself. And that you’re working for about the top 3 percent, max, of America. And they’re literary. That’s not the nuclear scientists, who ain’t going to read you. You’re working with literary folks, 3 percent of the reading public, and it becomes a tiny club and you should have more modesty.

But Cormac McCarthy, Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Virginia Woolf, that’s what you should shoot for. Beckett. The best of Beckett’s prose, you know. If you can get that close to the heart, and that honesty, with some music, why write the other kind of books that many people can agree with and not be disturbed by? I don’t like the books where everybody shakes their heads and says, How true, how true. I want to be in a region that’s beyond good and evil. Where it’s just fireworks or Mozart. Where there’s just no explanation. That’s what McCarthy and Faulkner do for me. It’s better than any review. That’s what I’m after."

-from The Pleasures of Influence: Conversations with American Male Fiction Writers

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