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George Saunders Quotes

American short story writer and essayist, Birth: 2-12-1958 George Saunders Quotes
1.
I tend to foster drama via bleakness. If I want the reader to feel sympathy for a character, I cleave the character in half, on his birthday. And then it starts raining. And he's made of sugar.
George Saunders

2.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
George Saunders

3.
The universal human laws - need, love for the beloved, fear, hunger, periodic exaltation, the kindness that rises up naturally in the absence of hunger/fear/pain - are constant, predictable, reliable, universal, and are merely ornamented with the details of local culture.
George Saunders

4.
Don't be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.
George Saunders

5.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
George Saunders

Similar Authors: Henry David Thoreau Ambrose Bierce George R. R. Martin F. Scott Fitzgerald John Steinbeck Salman Rushdie Christopher Hitchens William Hazlitt Joseph Addison Anais Nin Henry Miller Anton Chekhov Jonathan Swift Richard Bach Edgar Allan Poe
6.
The scariest thought in the world is that someday I'll wake up and realize I've been sleepwalking through my life: underappreciating the people I love, making the same hurtful mistakes over and over, a slave to neuroses, fear, and the habitual.
George Saunders

7.
I'm trying to read/edit my story as if I have no existing knowledge of the story, no investment in it, no sense of what Herculean effort went into writing page 23, no pretensions as to why the dull patch on page 4 is important for the fireworks that will happen on page 714.
George Saunders

8.
We have that illusion that we are 'deciding' what to make a character do, in order to 'convey our message' or something like that. But, at least in my experience, you are often more like a river-rafting guide who's been paid a bonus to purposely steer your clients into the roughest possible water.
George Saunders

Quote Topics by George Saunders: Writing Thinking People Book Trying Real Mean Stories Believe Reading Ideas Kindness Fiction Kids Way Years Feelings Kind Art Running Jobs Long Firsts Nice Media Mind Crazy Doe Powerful Guy
9.
Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.
George Saunders

10.
Developing our sympathetic compassion is not only possible but the only reason for us to be here on earth.
George Saunders

11.
According to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving. Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now.
George Saunders

12.
It's a big world, and I really like it.
George Saunders

13.
Character is that sum total of moments we can't explain.
George Saunders

14.
Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we're someone else, disrupting the delusion that we're permanent and at the center of the universe. Suddenly (we're saved!) other people are real again, and we're fond of them.
George Saunders

15.
The generalizing writer is like the passionate drunk, stumbling into your house mumbling: I know I'm not being clear, exactly, but don't you kind of feel what I'm feeling?
George Saunders

16.
Kindness, it turns out, is hard - it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, EVERYTHING.
George Saunders

17.
I'm always aware of writing around things I can't do, and I've come to think that that's actually what 'style' is - an avoidance of your deficiencies.
George Saunders

18.
I wasted a lot of years working on my writing and very grandly saying, 'And now... My Novel!,' which would soon be reduced to a short story, then to a paragraph.
George Saunders

19.
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
George Saunders

20.
When something really bad is going on in a culture, the average guy doesn't see it. He can't. He's average and is surrounded by and immersed in the cant and discourse of the status quo.
George Saunders

21.
We try, we fail, we posture, we aspire, we pontificate - and then we age, shrink, die, and vanish.
George Saunders

22.
I was a big and un-ironic fan of Dear Abby when I was a kid in Chicago. I think I sort of internalized her. So I have this inner Abby: cranky, proper, folksy yet scathing, with a beehive hairdo. But that's my issue.
George Saunders

23.
Working with language is a means by which we can identify the bullshit within ourselves (and others).
George Saunders

24.
The best thing we can bring to any fight is a calm and compassionate mind.
George Saunders

25.
If you really think back to the great writers, there's a lot of happiness in Tolstoy; there's a lot of love, there's childbirth, and there's dances. And likewise in Shakespeare and even Cervantes, there's a lot of celebrations of the positive manifestations of life. Technically, I found it harder to do, so that's kind of a good late-life challenge - without getting sentimental or chirpy.
George Saunders

26.
My heart goes out to him. Sort of. Because empathy depends on how you've spent your day.
George Saunders

27.
The best thing that ever happened to me is that nothing happened in writing. I ended up working for engineering companies, and that's where I found my material, in the everyday struggle between capitalism and grace. Being broke and tired, you don't come home your best self.
George Saunders

28.
From the perspective of someone with two grown and wonderful kids, that your instincts as parents are correct: a minute spent reading to your kids now will repay itself a million-fold later, not only because they love you for reading to them, but also because, years later, when they’re gone and miles away, those quiet evenings, when you were tucked in with them, everything quiet but the sound of the page-turns, will, seem to you, I promise...... sacred.
George Saunders

29.
There comes that phase in life when, tired of losing, you decide to stop losing, then continue losing. Then you decide to really stop losing, and continue losing. The losing goes on and on so long you begin to watch with curiosity, wondering how low you can go.
George Saunders

30.
Life is short, very short, and what are we doing here if not trying to become more generous and loving?
George Saunders

31.
Now I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another. The writer gets no points just because what's inside the box bears some linear resemblance to "real life" -- he can put whatever he wants in there. What's important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit.
George Saunders

32.
In Catholicism, we would say you're going to be judged, so therefore you should do better now. For me, Buddhism is somewhat more workable because instead of saying I have to do good, it says I have to notice what I'm actually doing.
George Saunders

33.
It's funny with fiction - once you cut something, it hasn't happened anymore.
George Saunders

34.
So here's something I know to be true, although it's a little corny, and I don't quite know what to do with it.
George Saunders

35.
I'm not a big fan of my books going on cross-country road trips. They get arrogant and, next thing, start aspiring to become 'large-print' books. I say, let them stay home and be regular small-print books.
George Saunders

36.
The idea of inclusion has become kind of a stone that we've passed our hand over so many times that it doesn't mean anything.
George Saunders

37.
Still, accomplishment is unreliable. "Succeeding," whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there's the very real danger that "succeeding" will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.
George Saunders

38.
I think it is time for a new pride in the intellectual life, and a new impatience with people who take pride in ignorance, or somehow use "elite" to mean "person who has taken the time to know" and then are eager to dismiss, say, striving, or the notion that improving one's self out of difficult conditions is a noble thing.
George Saunders

39.
I attended Catholic school. We received a great education from the nuns. ... Also, guilt. Guilt and a feeling of never being satisfied with what you've done. And a sense that you are inadequate and a big phony. All useful for a writer. I'm always being edited by my inner nun.
George Saunders

40.
I haven't written a novel or something that long, because I really am improvising all along and the story is growing new limbs to do what it needs to do. So there's very little planning. There's a little planning where I say, "Well, it looks like I'm going in this direction, ok, good." But there's very little forethought or intellectual justification: "Oh, look, I'm putting in a theme park because that represents dystopian America!"
George Saunders

41.
So, good news/bad news: good news that I'm progressing; bad news that life is short and art is long.
George Saunders

42.
There's a really nice moment in the life of a piece of writing where the writer starts to get a feeling of it outgrowing him - or he starts to see it having a life of its own that doesn't have anything to do with his ego or his desire to 'be a good writer'.
George Saunders

43.
It really strikes me how much of your energy in America, especially if you're from a working back-ground, is spent just keeping your head above water. It really saps your grace and your strength.
George Saunders

44.
I actually believe that a lot of what people call originality has to do with persistence in the craft.
George Saunders

45.
...smile first, then speak.
George Saunders

46.
I always cheerfully say, "Well, you know, the species is adapting, and whatever it needs to do, it'll do," but I do think it's maybe a little bit alarming. Everybody knows that one thing we really have to do is to be more wherever we are, more present, that's just kind of a commonplace. And the whole mobile phone thing is completely 100% the opposite - to never be where you are because you can always be somewhere else; and yet it's so fun and addictive.
George Saunders

47.
A work of art is something produced by a person, but is not that person — it is of her, but is not her. It’s a reach, really — the artist is trying to inhabit, temporarily, a more compact, distilled, efficient, wittier, more true-seeing, precise version of herself — one that she can’t replicate in so-called ‘real’ life, no matter how hard she tries. That’s why she writes: to try and briefly be more than she truly is.
George Saunders

48.
When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you. What I want is to have the reader come out just 6 percent more awake to the world.
George Saunders

49.
Humor is what happens when we're told the truth quicker and more directly than we're used to.
George Saunders

50.
The Bush administration is a paragon of wisdom.
George Saunders