“These are, as the whole world knows, tough days for literary fiction. And it’s never been the easiest career, even in boom times. Rejection. Financial uncertainty. Mean or dense critics. Good publishers that nevertheless have, at the end of each quarter, to answer to corporate bosses. Plus, the difficulty of composition. Blah blah blah. Everyone knows about this job, about the privations and snags of it.
But it’s wonderful, too.
…The best books do what no other art form can; that is, they make us inhabit the minds of other people. We may not like these peple sometimes, but we can’t help but gain a modicum of empathy if we see the world through the eyes of someone we don’t like. Being a reader, therefore, could just possibly make you a more sympathetic person. (I know if you subtracted, say, ten important books from my life – Anna Karenina, Lolita, American Pastoral, Herzog, others, others – I’d be lessened personally by the sacrifice.)”