One-Minute Book Reviews

January 27, 2007

The Best Things I Never Wrote: Quote of the Day, #3

Filed under: Books,Classics,Essays and Reviews,Quotes of the Day,Writing — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:03 pm

Anatole Broyard on nostalgia in American literature …

“It is one of the paradoxes of American literature that our writers are forever looking back with love and nostalgia at lives they couldn’t wait to leave.”

Anatole Broyard in “Mulchpile to Megalopolis,” which appeared in Aroused by Books (New York: Random House, 1974), a collection of book reviews that originally appeared in the New York Times from 1971–1973 when he was a staff critic.

Comment by Janice Harayda:

Broyard wrote this before the boom in what Joyce Carol Oates has called “pathography,” or biography and autobiography that focus on the sordid. Do you think his comment is still true of some American writers? If so, whom?


  1. Its interesting, even Stephen King writes in a biographical manner. But isn’t all writing, no matter the period of literary time pr genre, biographical in some way or another? As writers we can only write through the filter of our own life experiences. All characters, settings, themes, and plots are based upon those things of the same nature that live within us either outrightly or subvertly.

    Comment by Literary Bohemian — January 27, 2007 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  2. I’d say that all fiction is autobiographical in some way (not necessarily genres such as technical writing or investigative reporting). Louise Erdrich had a great line about this. She said that even when writing is directly autobiographical, there’s a paraphrase going on — it’s never a verbatim transcript. I agree with you that we can we filter fiction through our own lives. So I’m just adding that the filter can have different degrees thickness or transparency.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — January 28, 2007 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  3. Differnt degress of thickness or transparency -i like that.

    Comment by Literary Bohemian — January 28, 2007 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

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