One of the things I have tried to do with this book and with all of them really is avoid that simple, easy, reductionist view of motivation and to show we do things for a complex net of reasons, a real braid of reasons.— Russell Banks
The most useful Russell Banks quotes that are glad to read
If you dedicate your attention to discipline in your life you become smarter while you are writing than while you are hanging out with your pals or in any other line of work.
A couple of years I taught in graduate programs at NYU and Columbia, in the early eighties.
The 60s passed and faded and I grew older, and in 1987 bought a house in upstate New York, and it turned out that John Brown was buried down the road from my house and that he had lived there longer than anywhere else and his house was still standing.
John Brown first swam into my vision in the 1960s when I was a political activist in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement at Chapel Hill, where I went to university.
I much prefer working with kids whose life could be completely upended by a reading of a book over a weekend. You give them a book to read - they go home and come back a changed person. And that is so much more interesting and exciting.
But really, it was reading that led me to writing.
And in particular, reading the American classics like Twain who taught me at an early age that ordinary lives of ordinary people can be made into high art.
Like Neanderthals, men prefer to hunt alone or, if in a pack, at the head of it.
Women, whether in the field or in a campfire, are collaborative, and when they hunt...they work together.
Loyalty is weird, it kicks in when you dont expect it and the people who deserve loyalty least seem to get it the most.
For almost anyone who chooses to be a writer, since so very few writers are able to learn a living from their work that is equivalent to the living earned by the average dentist or accountant.
But on the other hand, I don't actively seek out stories or hunt them down.
Chimpanzees are endangered. Severely.
I began as a boy with artistic talent.
.. as a visual artist... I thought that was what I'd become and in my late teens drifted into reading serious literature.
My major allegiance has been to storytelling, not to history.
The United States particularly abandoned Liberia after the end of the Cold War.
The best thing about writing programs is that it rationalized the apprenticeship of a writer.
Driving home, it's all I can do to keep from crying.
Time's come, time's gone, time's never returning, I say to myself. What's here in front of me is all I've got, I decide, and as I drive my car through the blowing snow it doesn't seem like much, except for the kindness that I've just exchanged with an old lady, so I concentrate on that.
Motivations are too tangled and complex.
First of all it's usually women who run these higher primate sanctuaries, rarely men. They are white. They come from privileged backgrounds. They are educated.
They were gone and I missed them but even so I was very happy.
For the rest of my life no matter where on this planet earth I went and no matter how scared or confused I got, I could wait until dark and look up into the night sky and see my three friends again and my heart would swell with love of them and make me strong and clearheaded.
Luck can't last a lifetime unless you die young.
What I am finding now is that my audience is getting younger as I get older, which is a very good thing as you know - you don't want them to get older as you get older.
Lists of books we reread and books we can't finish tell more about us than about the relative worth of the books themselves.
The way I feel about every book is this: you don't finish it, you abandon it.
All of my books have in some sense failed, otherwise I wouldn't write another one. If I wrote the perfect book, I wouldn't have to write again, and I wouldn't want to. That's not true for everyone, but it's true for me. I could walk away then. But so far I haven't managed to do it.
I'm seventy-six now. I'm at a stage in my life where I feel a lot of affection and regard for women, and I felt the need to make this clear in some way. I don't know how they'll feel when they read it, but I feel okay about it.
And there are people who want to be writers because they love to write. And they care.
You go out into the world, you read everything you can read, you imitate the things you love, and you learn how hard it is to do. Eventually, you learn your own vision of the world, you learn your own voice and how to hear it, and you learn to write your own work. Writers today have as many opportunities as my generation did, but they don't see the examples as clearly as we did.
Boys like it when you talk to them as if they were grown men—at least he always did when he was a kid—because they pretend that’s what they are anyhow, grown-up men, and they do it for their entire lives.
Although I still occasionally paint and draw, my life has now been shaped by my writing.
One of the most difficult things to say to another person is, 'I hope that you will love me for no good reason.' But it is what we all want and rarely dare to say to one another, to our children, to our parents and mates, to our friends, and to strangers, especially to strangers who have neither good, nor bad reasons to love us.
There is a wonderful intelligence to the unconscious. It’s always smarter than we are.
Choose your agent as carefully as you would choose your accountant or lawyer. Or dentist.
Nobody does anything for one reason.
We are the planet, fully as much as water, earth, fire and air are the planet, and if the planet survives, it will only be through heroism. Not occasional heroism, a remarkable instance of it here and there, but constant heroism, systematic heroism, heroism as governing principle.
If you dedicate your attention to discipline in your life you become smarter.
Through writing, through that process, they realize that they become more intelligent, and more honest and more imaginative than they can be in any other part of their life.
I am not a ventriloquist.
If you are born black, it is better to be born now than in any other time in United States history. My grandson is black. His life is a different life than if he had been born when I was born.
Much more than memoir; it's history.
Our sins describe us, and our prohibitions describe our sins.
We know that people we love are both good and bad, but we expect strangers to be one or the other.
Let the truth take care of itself, I decided. It's done all right on its own so far.
The issue of torture, connected to American soldiers, is not somewhere most people want to linger. We may not want to confront this issue so much in the U.S. because of how we want to think about our veterans. There's the sense that we want to think of our veterans as - if they're damaged, damaged by something glamorous, like a firefight.
So the same cultural and political issues that divided us in 1968 are still dividing us.
And out of a desire essentially to imitate what I was reading, I began to write, like a clever monkey.
Storytelling is an ancient and honorable act.
An essential role to play in the community or tribe. It's one that I embrace wholeheartedly and have been fortunate enough to be rewarded for.
It's hard to spend years at a time working in total solitude with no reality-check.
It's hard to know more about a person's life than what that person wants you to know.
One hates a person for the same reason one loves him
I don't want it to be all that self-conscious or artificial, but it really grows out of my having invented myself as a listener so that I could hear her voice.