In certain strains of Judaism, there’s a profound passion for the ineffable. Contemplation of God is meant to be forever elusive, because, you know, our tiny minds can’t possibly comprehend Him. If we find ourselves comprehending Him, then we can be sure we’re off track.
It amazes me that parents are allowed to raise kids. There’s so much power and often very little accountability.
It’s lonely to listen to the pleasure of others, not that I’ve made a habit of that kind of eavesdropping. There’s joy and passion in the next room, in the next bed, but it’s not yours.
I’m interested in the hope we invest in science, and the disappointment we can feel when science flattens, or ‘explains,’ the larger mysteries of religion.
I’m attracted to how fraught the parent-child relationship is, swerving so easily between love and hostility, with almost no plausible way to end, unless someone dies.
I like big doses of grief when I read: Richard Yates, Flannery O’Connor, Kenzabaro Oe, Thomas Bernhard.
I work, and then I leave the office, and I’m with my kids and just sort of enjoy them on a visceral level, and I don’t feel like I’m exorcising my own deep ideas about parenthood and about how my life will come into play in my work.
My goal, with whatever I’m working on, is to lose track of time.
The common, the quotidian, is so much more unyielding to me, really stubborn and hard to work with, and I like this because it makes me think and it makes me worry. I can’t just plunge my hand into the meat of it. I need new approaches.
Mostly we’re motivated to control ourselves in public. Mostly. At home the motivation is much less clear. At home there’s a bit of a lab for bad behavior. You can test things out without terrible consequences. Or maybe the consequences are there, but they are deferred, buried, much harder to detect.
I love the way dates in a text make us think that truth will follow.
When I started writing at 18 or 19, I had a fear of anything autobiographical, but I’ve come to realise that my writing is very autobiographical at the emotional level.
Fiction becomes a place where I face certain fears such as losing language or losing my children.
I work a lot in the summers. My family goes to Maine, where we have a little house. My wife’s a writer, too, and we can write for six hours a day and then play with the kids.
I’m an enormous fan of Thomas Bernhard’s books, and I like the relentless feeling in his work – the pursuit of darkness, the negative – and I think in some sense I’ve internalised that as what one is supposed to do.
Among other things, autoimmune disorders are an induction into a world of unstable information and no reliable expertise.
My first book, ‘The Age of Wire and String,’ came out in 1995, and it was hardly reviewed at all.
Judaism to me, as badly as I practiced it, what I’ve always loved about it was its total embrace of complexity, its admission of unknowability.
In some sense, prose fiction is just a way of unlocking a space. If I can unlock the space, it comes out and it’s vivid, I find that I care about it, and it’s part of me.
My parents showed me by example that they could balance their work and family lives.