On what sets a writer apart, he said: "There's a confessional impulse that not every literate, intelligent person has. A crazy belief that you have some exciting news about being alive, and I guess that more than talent is what separates those who do it from those who think they'd like to."
About short stories, he said: "...you've got to make everything count toward a certain effect at the end."
In an introduction to his book of essays, he wrote: "Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea."
He said recently: "My ultimate duty to the text, while I'm still alive, is to make it the best I can, so I was hoping to make an absolutely perfect universe here. If only one person in 2050 noticed what I had done, I did not want to make a single mistake."
Of writing books, he said: "You can't think of offending readers. Fiction, it seems to me, should be surprising or abrasive. Fiction should be in your face. I know I've suffered for that -- there are some women who just don't read me because they think I'm sexist or something. What can you say to that at this point -- that I've raised two daughters in the best way I could. I know that criticism has cost me a bit, but you have to sing your own song. You have to write your own books."
And finally, he said: "I'd like to be thought of, at least, as someone who tried to do justice to my own talent and exploited it as fully as I could. And also as someone who was bravely honest, who tried to write generously and in a spirit of interest in his fellow man."