That afternoon I came to understand that one of the deepest purposes of intellectual sophistication is to provide distance between us and our most disturbing personal truths and gnawing fears.
If there's an enduring theme in my work, it's probably the effects of class on American life.
What I discovered I liked best about striking out on my bicycle was that the farther I got from home, the more interesting and unusual my thoughts became.
I never worry about people not taking my work seriously as a result of the humor. In the end, the comic's best trick is the illusion that comedy is effortless. That people imagine what he's doing is easy is an occupational hazard.
Structure is one of the things that I always hope will reveal itself to me.
Movies have to handle time very efficiently. They're about stringing scenes together in the present. Novels aren't necessarily about that.
People often ask me how I make things funny. I don't make things funny.
About 15 years ago I went though a period of a year or so when I just couldn't find anything good. My wife noticed I was having trouble reading menus. I bought some cheap reading glasses in a drug store. I got home and suddenly all these books that weren't good were good.
My books are elegiac in the sense that they're odes to a nation that even I sometimes think may not exist anymore except in my memory and my imagination.
At the risk of appearing disingenuous, I don't really think of myself as 'writing humor.' I'm simply reporting on the world I observe, which is frequently hilarious.
My dad had this rock hard body and would work 12- to 13-hour days. The guys he worked with were scrap-iron guys. Nobody on that road crew had read a book in 10 years, but there was something about the way they lived I really admired.
If my career continues along its current arc, people will probably look at me and see a writer who is obsessed with the relationship between rich and poor and with how the rich somehow or other always manage to betray the poor, even when they don't mean to.
I don't think there's a shortage of material in the world. Or in my head. I just pray for continued good health, because I've got other stories to tell.
I have to have a character worth caring about. I tend not to start writing books about people I don't have a lot of sympathy for because I'm just going to be with them too long.
If you work at comedy too laboriously, you can kill what's funny in the joke.
I think that if people are instructed about anything, it should be about the nature of cruelty. And about why people behave so cruelly to each other. And what kind of satisfactions they derive from it. And why there is always a cost, and a price to be paid.
Truth be told, I'm not an easy man. I can be an entertaining one, though it's been my experience that most people don't want to be entertained. They want to be comforted.
HBO is really famous for hiring good people and staying out of their way until they ask for help, or need it. And that reputation is earned.
You just kind of have faith. If that sounds kind of mystical, it's because I really don't know how it works, but I trust that it does. I try to write the way I read, in order to find out what happens next.
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