During the thirty-five years I have spent writing my own novels, I have learned not to laugh at the books written by others, and not to cast them aside, no matter how silly, ill-timed, outmoded, outdated, stupid, wrongheaded, or strange they might be. The secret of loving these books was not, perhaps, to read them in the way their authors had intended.... The point was to read these books—strange, and indifferent, and interspersed with moments of astonishing beauty—so as to put myself in their authors' shoes. You did not escape provinciality by running away from the provinces, but by making it your own. This was how I learned to immerse myself in my slowly expanding library, and also how I learned to put myself at a distance. It was after I turned forty that I learned that the most powerful reason for loving my library was that neither Turks nor Westerners knew about it.
Monday, December 01, 2008
In The New York Review of Books: