"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Time Well Spent

From the Paris Review Interview with Jeffrey Eugenides:


Do you write with a sense of your audience? Or is it more like Gertrude Stein said, that you write for yourself and strangers?


I tell my students that when you write, you should pretend you’re writing the best letter you ever wrote to the smartest friend you have. That way, you’ll never dumb things down. You won’t have to explain things that don’t need explaining. You’ll assume an intimacy and a natural shorthand, which is good because readers are smart and don’t wish to be condescended to.

I think about the reader. I care about the reader. Not “audience.” Not “readership.” Just the reader. That one person, alone in a room, whose time I’m asking for. I want my books to be worth the reader’s time, and that’s why I don’t publish the books I’ve written that don’t meet this criterion, and why I don’t publish the books I do until they’re ready. The novels I love are novels I live for. They make me feel smarter, more alive, more tender toward the world. I hope, with my own books, to transmit that same experience, to pass it on as best I can.

[Photo Credit: Land-Sh]


1 NoamSane   ~  Dec 12, 2012 2:50 pm

word! The more I know of Eugenides, the more I like. I've had an irrational hatred of him for years because a good friend of mine, who had a jealous streak, was coupled up with a woman who had previously been with him. It's only in recent years that I been reading Eugenides and hearing him interviewed and I'm really liking what I'm hearing & reading. This quote above is really helpful to me as a composer.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2012 3:15 pm

I haven't read anything by him but I liked this and thought it was good enough to share.

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