Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Donald Barthelme

Quote of the Day

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The writer is one who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do…The not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention…Writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing, a forcing of what and how…The not-knowing is not simple, because it’s hedged about with prohibitions, roads that may not be taken. The more serious the artist, the more problems he takes into account and the more considerations limit his possible alternatives—a point to which I shall return.

Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing”

Written by nevalalee

October 17, 2017 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Donald Barthelme

But the task is not so much to solve problems as to propose questions…There’s also an element of reportage, the description of new situations or conditions, but that’s pretty much a matter of identifying them rather than talking about solutions. Baudelaire noticing that the boulevards of Paris were no longer a means of getting from here to there but had become more like theater lobbies, places to be, and writing about that. The search is for a question that will generate light and heat.

Donald Barthelme, to The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

December 16, 2015 at 7:30 am

“Buckets of peanut butter with a layer of whipped cream on top”

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To say that the publishing world is not interested in literature is to overstate it. They are extremely interested in it, they just don’t want to publish it, you see. Publishers are brave, as brave as the famous diving horses of Atlantic City, but they’re increasingly owned by conglomerates, businesses which have nothing to do with publishing, and these companies demand a certain profit out of their publishing divisions. They take very few risks and they publish an enormous number of things which look like books, sort of feel like books, but in reality are buckets of peanut butter with a layer of whipped cream on top.

Donald Barthelme, “A Symposium on Fiction”

Written by nevalalee

October 1, 2011 at 9:01 am

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