top of page

The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading

Edmund White

Top 10 Best Quotes

“I like to read great books not because I’m hoping to imitate them but because I want to remind myself how good you have to be to be any good at all. We won’t be read in the light of other writers in our zip code or decade but as we compare to Proust, Joyce, and Nabokov. History has set the bar very high, and one must jump over it, not do the limbo under it.”

“Someone said a writer should read three times more than he or she writes.”

“Teenagers, flooded with destabilizing hormones and a longing for elsewhere, are particularly prone to the seductive power of dark narratives.”

“So many novelists of our time eschew any “message,” as if it’s an aesthetic flaw. Maybe critics want to preserve our self-defeatingly clamorous culture by making sure no radical idea actually gets through and can be heard.”

“Precision is easier to master than artful vagueness, especially now when, thanks to Google, novels are fact-heavy. We no longer refer to “flowers” but to particular varieties of roses. The whole valuable distinction between foreground (precise) and background (blurred) has been lost, and now everything is crowding toward the viewer, clamoring for attention.”

“Many people like books because they’re suspenseful or scary or touching or inspirational or because one admires the characters as if they were real people. Maybe it’s only writers who like the writing.”

“Later I would know some real workers—heavily tattooed, hair worn in ponytails, motorcycle-riding, manga-reading, and pill-popping—and I realized they were as batty as we were, far from the standardized robots of our fantasies. Americans, rich or poor, were a nation of weirdos.”

“I sometimes wonder if what I consider “romance” might be dying out—l’amour fou, crazy love, destructive passion, crippling jealousy, extreme and violent and tragic.”

“America was, alas, a country of great eccentrics and great prudes, of great writers and few readers.”

“Youngsters can plunder a text and find what they want in the margins.”

Except where otherwise noted, all rights reserved to the author(s) of this book (mentioned above). The content of this page serves as promotional material only. If you enjoyed these quotes, you can support the author(s) by acquiring the full book from Amazon.

Book Keywords:

books, writers, love, weirdos, margins, writer, writing, text, workers, romance, novelists, americans, america, novels, teenagers

bottom of page