Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Norman Mailer on Craft

The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing

"By now, I'm a bit cynical about craft. I think there's a natural mystique in the novel that is more important. One is trying, after all, to capture reality, and that is extraordinarily and exceptionally difficult. Craft is merely a series of way stations. I think of it as being like a Saint Bernard with a little bottle of brandy under his neck. Whenever you get into trouble, craft can keep you warm long enough to be rescued. Of course, this is exactly what keeps good novelists from becoming great novelists...Craft protects one from facing endless expanding realities--the terror, let us say, of losing your novel in the depths of philosophical insights you are not ready to live with. I think this sort of terror so depresses us that we throw up evasions--such as craft. Indeed, I think this adoration of craft makes a church of literature for that vast number of writers who are somewhere on the bell-shaped curve between talent and mediocrity."

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