The Details of Life

A favorite and poignant quote for your Wednesday:

Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find life under the glass, streaming by in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded the details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more ‘literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.

What kind of writer do you want to be . . .

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11 thoughts on “The Details of Life

  1. Wooooah. I am actually, physically feeling that quote resonate inside me. And I’m feeling guilty, because I’ve definitely been falling in the mediocre category for a while now. What a great kick in the arse.

  2. Great quote…Bradbury is a favorite of mine. I don’t think of myself as a “writer”–although I do write. I believe it would be a great idea to apply Bradbury’s reflection to every interaction, whether it be published work, a telephone conversation, or a comment on a blog.

    I certainly don’t want to be know as an unobservant, insensitive, rapist.

  3. ooh, what kind of writer do I want to be? A decent one, maybe? I don’t want to ask for too much.

    I do love Ray Bradbury, though…The Illustrated Man and Something Wicked This Way Comes are my two very favorites of his.

    So many wonderful writers, it’s hard to choose just one to write like. I’d like a little of David Sedaris’ humor in the mix, along with Ray’s incredible imagination; a touch of Emily Dickenson for that poetic turn of speech, and a bit of Alice Walker’s wisdom and ability to totally suck you in.

    But there’s so many more…!

  4. Ah…now I’m feeling conspicuously unable to produce anything the likes of which Mr. Bradbury did. Would anyone describe my writing that way? Gosh, I hope so. Someday. Sometimes, as writers, we want so much to be like our heroes (Bradbury, O’Connor, Price, Oates…) that we become stagnated in our own self-editing and self-loathing. I’ll have to send you something of mine sometime. Then we’ll see.

    However, I greatly agree with the idea of the quality of a book. It should be something that gets into your soul and evokes a new emotion with each reading. So much of what is produced (and published, amazingly enough) today is fluff. Marshmallow Fluff. Too many “beach novels” and too few which demand our undivided, rapt attention. Try Reynolds Price. One of our great living American authors. Mainstream genre. Deep, Southern roots in every word.

    Peace – D

  5. Priceless quote from Ray Bradbury, and as your first commenter said, this is a real kick in the pants. I think as writers we must be reminded to strive for greatness.

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to post a fairly long quote from my writing mentor, Natalie Goldberg, from her book Old Friend from Far Away. It is also a kick in the pants to writers:

    A few years ago I was invited to meet with the creative writing students in a graduate program at a big midwestern university. When I asked what their plans were, eight out of the ten, turning up their empty palms, said, well, the most we can hope for is a job at a community college. We know it’s hard out there in the book world.
    I was quiet and looked down. In their heart of hearts I wanted them to be thinking: Tolstoy, Garcia Lorca, Jane Austen, Proust, Alice Walker, Naguib Mahfouz, Virginia Woolf, Chinua Achebe. They seemed beaten-down, too practical, too rational at such young ages. All of them should have been hungry to step up to the plate and smack the ball home. What happened?
    Great writers do not write so that their readers will feel defeated. They wait for us to blow on the embers and keep the heat going. It is our responsibility. When we understand this, we grow up. We become a woman. We become a man.

  6. The kind of writer I want to be is one that can take you out of your day to day life and transport you to somewhere better, or at least somewhere entertaining. I want to be a writer that writes something that makes you laugh or makes you think.

  7. Funny. I think the way that’s written would probably make all but the most accomplished writers feel mediocre or felonious. I have a hard enough time writing, but if I felt I had to create layer upon layer for the reader to peel away and taste, I’d never be able to get past the first word. And I’m no writer.

    Though I have to say, I disagree with the last part of that quote; hiking up life’s dress for an unconsented quickie once in a while can be pretty exhilarating. So I guess I’ll cop to being a casual criminal. Or at least I’ve thought about it.

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