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1924 – 2017

If someone asks me, “Why do you write?” I can reply by pointing out that it is a very dumb question. Nevertheless, there is an answer. I write because I hate. A lot. Hard. And if someone asks me the inevitable next dumb question, “Why do you write the way you do?” I must answer that I wish to make my hatred acceptable because my hatred is much of me, if not the best part. Writing is a way of making the writer acceptable to the world — every cheap, dumb, nasty thought, every despicable desire, every noble sentiment, every expensive taste. There isn’t very much satisfaction in getting the world to accept and praise you for things that the world is prepared to praise. The world is prepared to praise only shit. One wants to make sure that the complete self, with all its qualities, is not just accepted but approved . . . not just approved — whoopeed.

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I know of nothing more difficult than knowing who you are, and then having the courage to share the reasons for the catastrophe of your character with the world.

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But really I loved him because he understood the greatness of my even greater love, Malcolm Lowry:

When one thinks of the general sort of snacky under-earnest writers whose works like wind-chimes rattle in our heads now, it is easier to forgive Lowry his pretentious seriousness, his old-fashioned ambitions, his Proustian plans, [his efforts] to replace the reader’s consciousness wholly with a black magician’s.

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Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

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