The aquilegia sprinkled on the rocks A scarlet rain; the yellow violet Sat in the chariot of its leaves, the phlox Held spikes of purple flame in meadows wet, And all the streams with vernal-scented reed Were fringed, and streaky bellow of miskodeed.
In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment in June.
The last publicized center of American writing was Manhattan. Its writers became known as the New York Intellectuals. With important connections to publishing, and universities, with access to the major book reviews, they were able to pose as the vanguard of American culture when they were so obsessed with the two Joes--McCarthy and Stalin--that they were to produce only two artists, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, who left town.
Where do you put a form? It will move all around, bellow out and shrink, and sometimes it winds up where it was in the first place. But at the end it feels different, and it had to make the voyage. I am a moralist and cannot accept what has not been paid for, or a form that has not been lived through.
Between the years of ninety-two and a hundred and two, however, we shall be the ribald, useless, drunken, outcast person we have always wished to be. We shall have a long white beard and long white hair; we shall not walk at all, but recline in a wheel chair and bellow for alcoholic beverages; in the winter we shall sit before the fire with our feet in a bucket of hot water, a decanter of corn whiskey near at hand, and write ribald songs against organized society... We look forward to a disreputable, vigorous, unhonoured, and disorderly old age.
What it 't to us, if taxes rise or fall, Thanks to our fortune, we pay none at all. Let muckworms who in dirty acres deal, Lament those hardships which we cannot feel, His grace who smarts, may bellow if he please, But must I bellow too, who sit at ease? By custom safe, the poets' numbers flow, Free as the light and air some years ago. No statesman e'er will find it worth his pains To tax our labours, and excise our brains. Burthens like these with earthly buildings bear, No tributes laid on castles in the air.
Throughout my career I've struggled to encourage people to read my books on a more metaphorical level. I'm less attached to my settings than, for example, Saul Bellow. The setting of a novel for me is just a part of the technique. I choose it at the end.
I think a lot of my interest in history now isn't so much in places and names and texts and public figures, but more in examining all the nuances and idiosyncrasies of particular stories of everyday people. And if that doesn't happen, then I usually transplant myself and my own stories to a particular historical event. Which is why you'll see me, the first person pronoun, interacting in a song about Carl Sandburg, or you'll find my [sic] interacting with Saul Bellow. It's sort of a re-rendering of history and making it my own.
You might learn as much about how to write by reading Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Wallace Stevens, Raymond Chandler, Saul Bellow, Paul Muldoon or a hundred other good novelists or poets than by seeing another round of John Ford revivals.
Saul Bellow once said, 'A writer is a reader who has moved to emulation' — which I think is true. I just started writing and made that jump from reader to writer and learned how hard it was, but also how much fun it was — losing myself in these imaginary worlds.