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Amber Paulen

More from In Praise of Reading and Fiction

Here’s another excerpt from In Praise of Reading and Fiction, the Nobel lecture by Mario Vargas Llosa. His words about writing resonate wonderfully through me (as do his luxuriously long and twisted sentences).

Although it is very difficult and forces me to sweat blood, and, like every writer, to feel at times the threat of paralysis, a dry season of the imagination, nothing has made me enjoy life as much as spending months and years constructing a story from its uncertain beginnings—the image stored by memory of a lived experience that becomes a restlessness, an enthusiasm, a daydream that then germinates into a project—and the decision to attempt to convert the agitated cloud of phantoms into a story. “Writing is a way of living,” wrote Flaubert. Yes, absolutely, a way of living with illusion and joy and a fire throwing out sparks in your head, struggling with intractable words until you master them, exploring the broad world like a hunter tracking down desirable prey to feed an embryonic fiction and appease the voracious appetite of every story that, as it grows, would like to devour every other story. Beginning to feel the vertigo a gestating novel induces in us when it takes shape and seems to begin to live on its own, with characters that move, act, think, feel, and demand respect and consideration, on whom it is no longer possible to impose behavior arbitrarily or deprive of their free will without killing them or having the story lose its power to persuade—this is an experience that continues to bewitch me as it did the first time, as complete and dizzying as making love to the woman you love for days, weeks, months, without stopping.


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