Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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Stephen King in The Paris Review, 2006

A great long read from Paris Review’s “The Art of Fiction” series. Check it out here.

INTERVIEWER

Cujo is unusual in that the entire novel is a single chapter. Did you plan that from the start?

KING

No, Cujo was a standard novel in chapters when it was created. But I can remember thinking that I wanted the book to feel like a brick that was heaved through your window at you. I’ve always thought that the sort of book that I do—and I’ve got enough ego to think that every novelist should do this—should be a kind of personal assault. It ought to be somebody lunging right across the table and grabbing you and messing you up. It should get in your face. It should upset you, disturb you. And not just because you get grossed out. I mean, if I get a letter from somebody saying, I couldn’t eat my dinner, my attitude is, Terrific!

INTERVIEWER

What do you think it is that we’re afraid of?

KING

I don’t think there’s anything that I’m not afraid of, on some level. But if you mean, What are we afraid of, as humans? Chaos. The outsider. We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of disruption, and that is what I’m interested in. I mean, there are a lot of people whose writing I really love—one of them is the American poet Philip Booth—who write about ordinary life straight up, but I just can’t do that.

I once wrote a short novel called “The Mist.” It’s about this mist that rolls in and covers a town, and the story follows a number of people who are trapped in a supermarket. There’s a woman in the checkout line who’s got this box of mushrooms. When she walks to the window to see the mist coming in, the manager takes them from her. And she tells him, “Give me back my mushies.”

We’re terrified of disruption. We’re afraid that somebody’s going to steal our mushrooms in the checkout line.

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“Anyone who doesn’t believe in you and your future, to hell with them”

Lots of great anecdotes, quotes, and writing advice from Ray Bradbury, lifted from this post at Tor.com. The below video includes a whole host of books and writers to check out, and some surprising insights into Bradbury’s mind (“Writing is not a serious business!” and “I don’t write things to benefit the world”). Just make sure to ignore the bit about modern poetry.


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Friendly Advice from Ray Bradbury

ray_bradbury_typewriterBelow you’ll find “Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer,” a short documentary made in 1963 by David L. Wolper. In it, Bradbury gives advice to fledgling writers, reflects on the dangers of new technology, and stresses the importance of the subconscious mind for his thinking.

I pulled this from a post over at Dangerous Minds, which you can find here. Their article summarizes some of Bradbury’s broader points, but it skips much of his practical advice, which is fantastic. Bradbury talks candidly about his early experiences as a writer, the need for an agent, his love of painting, the role his wife played in editing and assessing his work, rejection, and even his fear of the dark.

Cut throughout the interview material are excerpts from his short story “Dial Double Zero,” which only ever appeared as part of this documentary and remains unpublished.

Essential viewing for Bradbury fans, or anyone who has ever had the urge to write.