The writers we absorb when we're young bind us to them, sometimes lightly, sometimes with iron. In time, the bonds fall away, but if you look very closely you can sometimes make out the pale white groove of a faded scar, or the telltale chalky red of old rust.

— Daniel Mendelsohn

The most cheering Daniel Mendelsohn quotes that will inspire your inner self

Closeness can lead to emotions other than love.

It's the ones who have been too intimate with you, lived in too close quarters, seen too much of your pain or envy or, perhaps more than anything, your shame, who, at the crucial moment, can be too easy to cut out, to exile, to expel, to kill off.

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In the pre-Internet age you had to find gay things - or things that were slightly radioactive with erotic interest. You had to go to the library, you had to find the books; you had to find the coded things. When everything's available and everything's okay, what does it become? It becomes shopping. We're shopping all the time, basically, whether for objects, or people. On Manhunt or Grindr, or whatever. It's click to buy.

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We are living in an era of such interesting new forms, and certainly narrative non-fiction has emerged as a major form. People who are great writers don't have to write novels anymore.

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Opening things up not closing them off is my job.

I'm doing that for my reader. You know, Bob Gottlieb always says, "Criticism is a service industry." I take that very seriously. I do the research so I can tell you interesting things. It's not condescending, it's educational.

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Repression is good for cultural achievement.

Let's face it. What are gay boys going to be like? I always like to say the 19th-century gay boy was Oscar Wilde, the 20th-century gay boy was Stonewall and ACT UP. And in the 21st century, we have blocking people on Grindr. That's what we've accomplished. Without some kind of traction.

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The three most written-about subjects of all time are Jesus, the Civil War, and the Titanic.

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You come out of the gate, you've got something new, you're subversive, nobody's ever done it before. But by your fifth novel and your fourth literary prize and your house in the country, can you really claim to be subversive?

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I find that readers are very interested in how things are translated.

I just turned in the first part of this father-son Odyssey, and there is a part when I digress and explain that the name Odysseus is related to the word for pain. Like "-odyne" in the word "anodyne," pain. It's the same, "-odyne" as in Odysseus. He's the man who both suffers endlessly, in trying to get home, but also inflicts a lot of suffering on everyone he visits.

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What if The Odyssey has no more validity or authenticity than one of the other stories that you hear Odysseus telling? Whoever created The Odyssey was incredibly hip to stuff that we think, in our post-modernist, post-structuralist era, we're uncovering for the first time; but we aren't.

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