MJ Nicholls
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2023 reviews
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MJ Nicholls

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The Acid House
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Émile Zola
“From the moment I start a new novel, life’s just one endless torture. The first few chapters may go fairly well and I may feel there’s still a chance to prove my worth, but that feeling soon disappears and every day I feel less and less satisfied. I begin to say the book’s no good, far inferior to my earlier ones, until I’ve wrung torture out of every page, every sentence, every word, and the very commas begin to look excruciatingly ugly. Then, when it’s finished, what a relief! Not the blissful delight of the gentleman who goes into ecstasies over his own production, but the resentful relief of a porter dropping a burden that’s nearly broken his back . . . Then it starts all over again, and it’ll go on starting all over again till it grinds the life out of me, and I shall end my days furious with myself for lacking talent, for not leaving behind a more finished work, a bigger pile of books, and lie on my death-bed filled with awful doubts about the task I’ve done, wondering whether it was as it ought to have been, whether I ought not to have done this or that, expressing my last dying breath the wish that I might do it all over again!”
Émile Zola, The Masterpiece

Gilbert Sorrentino
“All I do know, for certain, after 53 years in this business, is that writers who sincerely think that their language can represent reality ought to be plumbers.”
Gilbert Sorrentino

Samuel Beckett
“The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns, the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks, the tears, the skelps, and the yelps.”
Samuel Beckett, Watt

William H. Gass
“We must take our sentences seriously, which means we must understand them philosophically, and the odd thing is that the few who do, who take them with utter sober seriousness, the utter sober seriousness of right-wing parsons and political saviors, the owners of Pomeranians, are the liars who want to be believed, the novelists and poets, who know that the creatures they imagine have no other being than the sounding syllables which the reader will speak into his own weary and distracted head. There are no magic words. To say the words is magical enough.”
William H. Gass, The World Within the Word

Raymond Federman
“And so, for me, the only fiction that still means something today is the kind of fiction that tries to explore the possibilities of fiction beyond its own limitations; the kind of fiction that challenges the tradition that governs it; the kind of fiction that constantly renews our faith in man's intelligence and imagination rather than man's distorted view of reality; the kind of fiction that reveals man's playful irrationality rather than his righteous rationality.”
Raymond Federman

80277 The Kindred Spirits — 299 members — last activity Sep 08, 2020 08:02AM
Place to meet and talk about anything.
79311 Completists' Club — 482 members — last activity Sep 26, 2021 06:42PM
A group for those attempting to complete, or who have completed, the canons of their favourite writers. Share your canon-wide knowledge and opinion wi ...more
97302 The BURIED Book Club — 791 members — last activity Apr 10, 2023 12:33PM
88667 Alexander Theroux Ville — 113 members — last activity Mar 06, 2023 03:50PM
The Theroux revival continues. This group counts as a village forum for discussing the works of Alexander Theroux. Both scholars and the naive and cur ...more
118024 Dalkey Archive Press reads — 145 members — last activity Apr 18, 2020 05:39AM
Hi everyone, Join our Backlist of the Month discussions! What is Backlist of the month, you ask? It's something we'll tell you all about on Faceboo ...more
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