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Aelius Rusticus

Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 61, Stanley Elkin - 0 views

  • It’s a rare joke that is funny. Only situations are funny.
    • Aelius Rusticus
       
      I asked my cat why he didn't help me with the elaborate vegetable soup I was preparing. When he had no quick answer, I suggested it was because he had no stock in it. My wit, pedestrian in the grand scheme, nonetheless amused me in the moment. Funny situation or funny word-play? or neither?
  • “The point of life was the possibility it always held out for the exceptional.”
  • to do the kinds of things which people don’t really do in real life but which they do do in fiction—to follow their own irrational—but sane—obsessions which, achieved, would satisfy them. Alas, these guys never catch up with their obsessions.
  • ...17 more annotations...
  • There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think, “Jesus Christ, how many more months do I have left?” or years, I hope. I am totally preoccupied with death. I mean my own death. Barth, for example, has said that he comes from very good stock and expects to live a long time. Bill Gass thinks that one of the reasons he takes so much time writing his novels—it took him ten years to write Omensetter’s Luck—is that he has an infinite amount of time left to him. I don’t believe that I have an infinite amount of time left to me. Probably I would be a healthier man if I did believe it.
  • making a scratch on a stone?
  • it’s not a question of making imaginary leaps or having a third eye. It’s a question of using the two eyes I have—and looking hard and close at things.
  • That kind of observation can be taught. I also try to teach them how to recognize a situation, what legitimately is a situation and what isn’t. Those are the only things that can be taught. I can’t teach a person style. I can’t teach him to write, in terms of language. But I can teach them that things look like other things.
  • Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers, a collection of short stories (1966)
  • junk jewelry’s meteorological condition—its Fall line and Spring.
  • I don’t believe that less is more. I believe that more is more. I believe that less is less, fat fat, thin thin and enough is enough.
  • particular existential writers?
  • the SELF takes precedence.
  • Camus
  • in the better restaurants.
  • Barth is wonderful, but the Barth I really admire is back there in the Golden Age of Barth.
  • Bellow I think is a magnificent writer—probably, with Gass, the best writer in America.
  • I think Gass is the best word-man in America.
  • There’s marvelous language in Pricksongs and Descants but it’s subsidiary to the experiment with structure. I tell you this for your own good, Bob. The reason I like Gass so much is that Gass is not fucking around with structure. He is fucking around with language. That to me is legitimate and acceptable, and the furthest out you can go is the best place to be. That’s what’s so magnificent about Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote very conventional plays, but the language wasn’t conventional.
  • the great gift of fiction—is that it gives language an opportunity to happen.
  • palimpsest of metaphor right there on the page. One gets a notion of the conceit and one is inspired to work with it as a draftsman might work with some angle that he is interested in getting down correctly.
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