"Look, before we go on, I want to say a little more about craft. It is a grab bag of procedures, tricks, lore, formal gymnastics, symbolic superstructures—methodology, in short. It’s the compendium of what you’ve acquired from others. And since great writers communicate a vision of existence, one can’t usually borrow their methods. The method is married to the vision. No, one acquires craft more from good writers and mediocre writers with a flair. Craft, after all, is what you can take out whole from their work. But keeping in shape is something else."

Norman Mailer (via theparisreview)

Thought about James Wood’s words on Zadie Smith’s NW when I read this.


“Authors are like rock stars for old people,” a younger patron said. He was talking to a young woman wearing a nearly identical pair of Warby Parkers. “I don’t get it.”

Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon cause a few scenes at the 92Y, by Jason Diamond for Capital New York

“Authors are like rock stars for old people,” a younger patron said. He was talking to a young woman wearing a nearly identical pair of Warby Parkers. “I don’t get it.”

Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon cause a few scenes at the 92Y, by Jason Diamond for Capital New York


“I write very slowly, and I rewrite continually, every day, over and over and over…. It’s a continual process. Every day, I read from the beginning up to where I’d got to and just edit it all, and then I move on. It’s incredibly laborious, and toward the end of a long novel it’s intolerable actually.”
What then ultimately brought her back to fiction, she was asked.
“There are little sparks of something like actual life,” she said after a deliberative pause, “and I don’t think an essay could ever create that friction, that feeling of being alive. And when you’re a kid, that’s why you read, and some people forget that, but for me that feeling of the fake-real, the almost-real, I get pleasure from thinking I could do that.”

Zadie Smith on ‘little sparks of something like actual life’ and her latest, ‘NW’

“I write very slowly, and I rewrite continually, every day, over and over and over…. It’s a continual process. Every day, I read from the beginning up to where I’d got to and just edit it all, and then I move on. It’s incredibly laborious, and toward the end of a long novel it’s intolerable actually.”

What then ultimately brought her back to fiction, she was asked.

“There are little sparks of something like actual life,” she said after a deliberative pause, “and I don’t think an essay could ever create that friction, that feeling of being alive. And when you’re a kid, that’s why you read, and some people forget that, but for me that feeling of the fake-real, the almost-real, I get pleasure from thinking I could do that.”

Zadie Smith on ‘little sparks of something like actual life’ and her latest, ‘NW’

"Last Christmas, standing in an apartment building in New York, I was struck by a hallway where papier-mâché Stars of David and holy crosses came together in a decorative seasonal theme. Here these “people of the book” (whose religious texts overlap and divide as deeply as either text with the Koran) lived peaceably in the same space, finding one another’s religions by turns amusing, irrational, beautiful, banal. What enabled it? It took generations; it passed through periods of unspeakable horror; sometimes people forgot, sometimes they forgave, and they did both these things imperfectly. Practical matters helped. General economic parity, difficult acts of good will on both sides, and a democratic country in which the apparently impossible has the freedom to happen. It is not a perfect relationship—there’s no such thing—and it took two thousand years to get this far. We forget: these things take time. “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., who presided over another meeting of supposedly irreconcilable peoples. Not everyone is a monster."

Zadie Smith | Monsters | New Yorker