Claire Messud quotes

  • If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t ‘Is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘Is this character alive?'
    -- Claire Messud

    #Reading #Character #Alive

  • Anyway, these books I love, they’re all books by men—every last one of them. Because if it’s unseemly and possibly dangerous for a man to be angry, it’s totally unacceptable for a woman to be angry. I wanted to write a voice that for me, as a reader, had been missing from the chorus: the voice of an angry woman.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Book #Writing #Men

  • It's the strangest thing about being human: to know so much, to communicate so much, and yet always to fall so drastically short of clarity, to be, in the end, so isolate and inadequate. Even when people try to say things, they say them poorly or obliquely, or they outright lie, sometimes because they're lying to you, but as often because they're lying to themselves.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Lying #Fall #People

  • Above all, in my anger, I was sad. Isn't that always the way, that at the heart of the fire is a frozen kernel of sorrow that the fire is trying -- valiantly, fruitlessly -- to eradicate.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Heart #Fire #Sorrow

  • I've discovered over the years that the simplest explanation is almost always the right one; and that hunger of one kind or another - desire, by another name - is the source of almost every sorrow.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Years #Names #Sorrow

  • That's so her. You know, torn between Big Ideas and a party. She's always been that way.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Party #Ideas #Way

  • Geniuses have the shortest biographies.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Genius #Biographies

  • The professor husband of a friend of mine has likened children to the insane. I often think of it. He says that children live on the edge of madness, that their behavior, apparently unmotivated, shares the same dream logic as crazy people's. I see what he means, and because I've learned to be patient with children, to tease out the logic that's always somewhere there, and irrefutable once explained,
    -- Claire Messud

    #Dream #Children #Husband

  • I was funny -- ha-ha, not peculiar. It was a modest currency, like pennies: pedestrian, somewhat laborious, but a currency nonetheless. I was funny, in public, most often at my own expense.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Peculiar #Pennies #Currency

  • To my mind, Guernica is the most important online intellectual and literary journal in America today.
    -- Claire Messud

    #America #Intellectual #Mind

  • I measure my life out in books." "You should be measuring your life by living. Correction: you shouldn't be measuring your life. What's the point?
    -- Claire Messud

    #Book #Should #Measuring

  • I believe that, in an ideal world, writers would feel free to write what matters to them without having to consider success, failure, the market, etc.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Believe #Writing #What Matters

  • When you are the woman upstairs, nobody thinks of you first. Nobody calls you before anyone else, or sends you the first postcard. Once your mother dies, nobody loves you “best of all.” It's a small thing, you might think, and maybe it depends on your temperament, maybe for some people it's a small thing, but for me [...]
    -- Claire Messud

    #Mother #Love You #Thinking

  • Does Being Happy simply Create More Time, in the way that Being Sad, as we all know, slows time and thickens it, like cornstarch in a sauce?),
    -- Claire Messud

    #Being Sad #Doe #Sauce

  • I wanted to write a voice that for me, as a reader, had been missing from the chorus: the voice of an angry woman.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Writing #Voice #Missing

  • I'm not a writing group member, not a joiner in that way. I don't seek a wide swath of feedback.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Writing #Groups #Way

  • Yes, writing is essential to me. It's my way of living in the world.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Writing #Essentials #World

  • If I had to summarize, most broadly, my concerns as a writer, I'd say the question 'How then must we live?' is at the heart of it, for me.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Heart #Concern

  • The more accurately one can illuminate a particular human experience, the better the work of art.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Art #Human Experience #Humans

  • We read to find life, in all its possibilities.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Possibility

  • If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Reading #Trouble

  • The apartment was entirely, was only, for her: a wall of books, both read and unread, all of them dear to her not only in themselves, their tender spines, but in the moments or periods they evoked… Her self, then, was represented in her books; her times in her records; and the rest of the room she thought of as a pure, blank slate.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Wall #Book #Self

  • But do you know this idea of the imaginary homeland? Once you set out from shore on your little boat, once you embark, you'll never truly be at home again. What you've left behind exists only in your memory, and your ideal place becomes some strange imaginary concoction of all you've left behind at every stop.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Memories #Home #Ideas

  • Nobody would know me from my own description of myself; which is why, when called upon (rarely, I grant) to provide an account, I tailor it, I adapt, I try to provide an outline that can, in some way, correlate to the outline that people understand me to have -- that, I suppose, I actually have, at this point. But who I am in my head, very few people really get to see that. Almost none. It's the most precious gift I can give, to bring her out of hiding.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Who I Am #People #Giving

  • But we're lost in a world of appearances now.
    -- Claire Messud

    #World #Appearance #Lost

  • I always thought I'd get farther. I'd like to blame the world for what I've failed to do, but the failure - the failure that sometimes washes over me as anger, makes me so angry I could spit - is all mine, in the end. What made my obstacles insurmountable, what consigned me to mediocrity, is me, just me. I thought for so long, forever, that I was strong enough -- or I misunderstood what strength was.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Strong #Long #Forever

  • We live in a culture that wants to put a redemptive face on everything, so anger doesn't sit well with any of us. But I think women's anger sits less well than anything else. Women's anger is very scary to people, and to no one more than to other women, who think my goodness, if I let the lid off, where would we be?
    -- Claire Messud

    #Thinking #People #Scary

  • As my wise friend Didi has more than once observed about life's passages, every departure entails an arrival elsewhere, every arrival implies a departure from afar.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Wise #Departure #Afar

  • Just because something is invisible doesn't mean it isn't there. At any given time, there are a host of invisibles floating among us. There are clairvoyants to see ghosts; but who sees the invisible emotions, the unrecorded events? Who is that sees love, more evanescent than any ghost, let alone can catch it? Who are you tell me that I don't know what love is?
    -- Claire Messud

    #Mean #Love Is #Events

  • Life's funny. You have to find a way to keep going, to keep laughing, even after you realize that none of your dreams will come true. When you realize that, there's still so much of a life to get through.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Dream #Laughing #Way

  • And then, into the fantasy, as into a dream, would come the thought: it's not like this anymore; the world has changed. Just the way, even at that time fully two years after my mother's death, I'd catch myself thinking about her as alive; and would suddenly remember, an admonitory finger of grief upon my breast, that she was gone.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Mother #Dream #Grief

  • It doesn't ever occur to you, as you fashion your mask so carefully, that it will grow into your skin and graft itself, come to seem irremovable.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Fashion #Skins #Mask

  • Maybe that, really, is as good a definition as any of an artist in the world: a ruthless person.
    -- Claire Messud

    #Artist #World #Definitions

  • An abiding preoccupation for me is how much of our lives are invisible and unknown by other people, like the Chekhov story 'The Lady With the Little Dog.'
    -- Claire Messud

    #Dog #People #Abiding