John McGahern quotes

  • My favorite optimist was an American who jumped off the Empire State Building, and as he passed the 42nd floor, the window washers heard him say, 'So Far, so good.'
    -- John McGahern

    #Empires #Window #Building

  • Everything that we inherit, the rain, the skies, the speech, and anybody who works in the English language in Ireland knows that there's the dead ghost of Gaelic in the language we use and listen to and that those things will reflect our Irish identity.
    -- John McGahern

    #Rain #Sky #Identity

  • I mean I think that's a fact and I think that we had a very peculiar type of Catholic Church here in that it was a fortress Church.
    -- John McGahern

    #Mean #Thinking #Catholic

  • When you're in danger of losing a thing it becomes precious and when it's around us, it's in tedious abundance and we take it for granted as if we're going to live forever, which we're not.
    -- John McGahern

    #Forever #Losing #Abundance

  • Amongst Women concentrated on the family, and the new book concentrates on a small community. The dominant units in Irish society are the family and the locality. The idea was that the whole world would grow out from that small space.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Ideas #Space

  • I think technique can be taught but I think the only way to learn to write is to read, and I see writing and reading as completely related. One almost couldn't exist without the other.
    -- John McGahern

    #Reading #Writing #Thinking

  • Nothing ever holds together unless it is mixed with some of one's own blood
    -- John McGahern

    #Blood #Together

  • ...with a rush of feeling he felt that this must be happiness. As soon as the thought came to him, he fought it back, blaming the whiskey. The very idea was as dangerous as presumptive speech: happiness could not be sought or worried into being, or even fully grasped; it should be allowed its own slow pace so that it passes unnoticed, if it ever comes at all.
    -- John McGahern

    #Ideas #Feelings #Pace

  • I used to take five or six books away and bring five or six books back. Nobody gave me direction or advice and I read much in the way that a boy might watch television.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Boys #Advice

  • When I was in my 20s it did occur to me that there was something perverted about an attitude that thought that killing somebody was a minor offence compared to kissing somebody.
    -- John McGahern

    #Attitude #Kissing #Killing

  • Without the book business it would be difficult or impossible for true books to find their true readers and without that solitary (and potentially subversive) alone with a book the whole razzmatazz of prizes, banquets, television spectaculars, bestseller lists, even literature courses, editors and authors, are all worthless. Unless a book finds lovers among those solitary readers, it will not live . . . or live for long.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Editors #Long

  • When I start to write, words have become physical presence. It was to see if I could bring that private world to life that found its first expression through reading. I really dislike the romantic notion of the artist.
    -- John McGahern

    #Reading #Writing #Artist

  • I think there's a great difference in consciousness in that same way in that when we're young we read books for the story, for the excitement of the story - and there comes a time when you realise that all stories are more or less the same story.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Thinking #Differences

  • Anything that is given can be at once taken away. We have to learn never to expect anything, and when it comes it's no more than a gift on loan.
    -- John McGahern

    #Taken #Loan #Given

  • The best of life is life lived quietly, where nothing happens but our calm journey through the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything.
    -- John McGahern

    #Journey #Calm #Life Is

  • Yes, though I have nothing but gratitude for my upbringing in the church.
    -- John McGahern

    #Gratitude #Church #Upbringing

  • I love the description of Gothic churches before the printed word, that they were the bibles of the poor.
    -- John McGahern

    #Church #Gothic #Poor

  • Yes, but also one of the problems for a novelist in Ireland is the fact that there are no formal manners. I mean some people have beautiful manners but there's no kind of agreed form of manners.
    -- John McGahern

    #Beautiful #Mean #People

  • The way I see it is that all the ol' guff about being Irish is a kind of nonsense. I mean, I couldn't be anything else no matter what I tried to be. I couldn't be Chinese or Japanese.
    -- John McGahern

    #Mean #Chinese #Matter

  • The rosary was said every evening. I always liked that sentence about the medieval Churches, that they were the Bibles of the poor. The Church was my first book and I would think it is still my most important book.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Thinking #Important

  • I think my mother was very spiritual.
    -- John McGahern

    #Mother #Spiritual #Thinking

  • I think fiction is a very serious thing, that while it is fiction, it is also a revelation of truth, or facts.
    -- John McGahern

    #Thinking #Fiction #Facts

  • I've never written anything that hasn't been in my mind for a long time - seven or eight years.
    -- John McGahern

    #Eight #Years #Long

  • I feel I grew up in a different century than I live in. I think most of them are changes for the good.
    -- John McGahern

    #Thinking #Different #Grew Up

  • I think that each of us inhabits a private world that others cannot see. The only difference between the writer and the reader is that the writer is able to dramatise that private world.
    -- John McGahern

    #Thinking #Differences #World

  • I'd much prefer to write more quickly.
    -- John McGahern

    #Writing

  • We absolutely believed in Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, and even Limbo. I mean, they were actually closer to us than Australia or Canada, that they were real places.
    -- John McGahern

    #Real #Mean #Australia

  • I read all the time. I was reading a book I admire very much by Alice McDermot called Charming Billy.
    -- John McGahern

    #Book #Reading #Charming

  • I belong to the middle class that grew up very influenced by the Catholic church. The people of the novel are from a more pagan and practical world in which the Christianity is just a veneer.
    -- John McGahern

    #Class #People #Catholic

  • As a writer, I write to see. If I knew how it would end, I wouldn't write. It's a process of discovery.
    -- John McGahern

    #Writing #Discovery #Ends

  • Ireland is a peculiar society in the sense that it was a nineteenth century society up to about 1970 and then it almost bypassed the twentieth century.
    -- John McGahern

    #Peculiar #Century #Nineteenth Century

  • My father was very outwardly religious.
    -- John McGahern

    #Religious #Father