I'm not interested in blind optimism, but I'm very interested in optimism that is hard-won, that takes on darkness and then says, 'This is not enough.'
When I come home, I say I'm coming home to Dublin. When I'm in Dublin, I say I'm going home to New York. I'm sort of a man of two countries.
About 25 years ago, I took a bicycle across the United States. I soon found out that the greatest item of clothing was the trusty bandanna. There were dozens of uses for a bandanna - as a pot holder, a chain cleaner, a sun shield, a headband, a snot rag, a declaration of Kerouacian intent.
The contemporary American novelist benefits in a way from being ignored. It makes you angrier and makes you want to go into all of those places where you shouldn't.
I don't really know what an adverb is. A dangling participle? That sounds really rude. I don't know what character is, really. Plot seems vaguely juvenile to me. It's all about language, it's all about how you apply it to the page.
It's not very fashionable, but I love life, and I believe that things disappear and reappear and nothing ever solidifies, no matter how middle-class, housebroken, staid, and solitary someone's life seems to be. That, I think, is what I'm writing about.
Part of me really wants to believe that hope is entirely available to all of us. We don't have to embrace it. It would be sentimental and silly to say that we all need it, but it is absolutely available to all of us.
The further away we got from 9/11, the more I wanted to find some way to recover. I wanted to talk about the more anonymous corners of the city, because I think it's very important that not all of that anger was turned to revenge.
Increasingly I think of myself as some strange and solitary conductor, introduced to a group of very dynamic musicians who happen to be my characters, and I have no idea how they are going to play together, and I have certainly no idea how I am going to put manners on them.
I think one of the biggest political failures, and the biggest social failures, over the past few years has been the failure of empathy; not being able to look at the other person down the street.
I think we need stories, and we need to tell the stories over and over and over not only to remind us, but to be able to have that clarity of experience that changes us, so that we know who we are now because of who we have been at some other time.
I think literature can make familiar the unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar is very much about the dispossessed, and so the value of literature seems to me to go into the stories that not everybody wants to tell.
I mean, every novel's a historical novel anyway. But calling something a historical novel seems to put mittens on it, right? It puts manners on it. And you don't want your novels to be mannered.
In a certain way, novelists become unacknowledged historians, because we talk about small, tiny, little anonymous moments that won't necessarily make it into the history books.
The short story is an imploding universe. It has all the boil of energy inside it. A novel has shrapnel going all over the place. You can have a mistake in a novel. A short story has to be perfect.
Very seldom in my fiction have I directly used the stories people have told me. I think ripping off people's lives in fiction is dangerous. It also lacks imagination.
Every first thing is always a miracle. The first person you fall in love with. The first letter you receive. The first stone you throw. And in my conception of the novel, the letter becomes important. But what's more important is the fact that we need to continue to tell each other stories.
I was a little bit perturbed by the whole big grief machine that grew out of 9/11. I knew that I wanted to write about it, but I wasn't sure about how to go about it.
It's interesting if you can talk about the large moments and also the small moments to understand the deepest complexities of a man by trying to imagine who they are.
I'm very boring, really: I live on the Upper East Side, a block from the park. I have three kids. I go for a jog around the park every day with my dog.