Peter Carey quotes:

  • It's true: one of the things that I've always thought about American society is that you never get the sort of natural politicisation of class consciousness that you would get in the United Kingdom or even in Australia.

  • I have written a memoir here and there, and that takes its own form of selfishness and courage. However, generally speaking, I have no interest in writing about my own life or intruding in the privacy of those around me.

  • The declared meaning of a spoken sentence is only its overcoat, and the real meaning lies underneath its scarves and buttons.

  • Being famous as a writer is like being famous in a village. It's not really any very heady fame.

  • Writers, at least writers of fiction, are always full of anxiety and worry.

  • I went to work in 1962, and by '64 I was writing all the time, every night and every weekend. It didn't occur to me that, having read nothing and knowing nothing, I was in no position to write a book.

  • I had known loneliness before, and emptiness upon the moor, but I had never been a NOTHING, a nothing floating on a nothing, known by nothing, lonelier and colder than the space between the stars. It was more frightening than being dead.

  • I thought I would be an organic chemist. I went off to university, and when I couldn't understand the chemistry lectures I decided that I would be a zoologist, because zoologists seemed like life-loving people.

  • I don't think you have the right to shout about other people's private life.

  • I think that thing about the destruction of the world is there all the time, it's there every day when we look out the window.

  • I like how they are. I think they're great. And their communities are communities. I have a greater sense of community in New York than almost anywhere I've ever lived. Really, it's terrific.

  • I don't separate my books into historical novels and the rest. To me, they're all made-up worlds, and both kinds are borne out of curiosity, some investigation into the past.

  • Nostalgia is something we think of as fuzzy. But it's pain. Pain concerning the past.

  • At the very end of a book I can manage to work for longer stretches, but mostly, making stuff up for three hours, that's enough. I can't do any more. At the end of the day I might tinker with my morning's work and maybe write some again. But I think three hours is fine.

  • I did not know that history is like a blood stain that keeps on showing on the wall no matter how many new owners take possession, no matter how many times we pint over it.

  • What I find really attractive is something that's going to be a little dangerous. Something that might get me into trouble; you know, you turn up in London and you've just rewritten Dickens. And, of course, then you think, 'What have I done?'

  • One has to be able to twist and change and distort characters, play with them like clay, so everything fits together. Real people don't permit you to do that.

  • The great thing about using the past is that it gives you the most colossal freedom to invent. The research is necessary, of course, but no one writes a novel to dramatically illustrate what everybody already knows.

  • My greatest pleasure is to invent. My continual mad ambition is to make something true and beautiful that never existed in the world before.

  • And it's always possible that you will not get a nice review. So - and that's enraging of course, to get a bad review, you can't talk back, and it's sort of shaming in a way.

  • I'm interested in where we are, where we're going, where we've come from.

  • I'm always the one with the activist friends. I've been an activist very little.

  • So in the first draft, I'm inventing people and place with a broad schematic idea of what's going to happen. In the process, of course, I discover all sorts of bigger and more substantial things.

  • She could marry this man, she knew, and still be captain of her soul.

  • (From the story The Last Days of a Famous Mime) He said nothing. He was mildly annoyed at her presumption: that he had not thought this many, many times before. With perfect misunderstanding she interpreted his passivity as disdain. Wishing to hurt him, she slapped his face. Wishing to hurt her, he smiled brilliantly.

  • All our heroes, all our great stories are about failure.

  • Glass is a thing in disguise, an actor, is not solid at all, but a liquid?an old sheet of glass will not only take on a royal and purplish tinge but will reveal its true liquid nature by having grown fatter at the bottom and thinner at thetop, and? It isinvisible, solid, in short a joyous and paradoxical thing, asgood a material as any tobuild a life from.

  • Good writing of course requires talent, and no one can teach you to have talent.

  • I don't need new boots I got bluchers back down home. Eff the effing bluchers I'll buy you new adjectival effing elastic sided boots.

  • I have never begun a novel which wasn't going to stretch me further than I had ever stretched before.

  • I never base characters on real people. There are people who do that but I really don't know how to do it.

  • I think it's really boring, from the point of view of the novelist, to write about yourself. Tedious. But that's very hard to explain to people who really don't believe in the possibility of invention.

  • If you ever read one of my books I hope you'll think it looks so easy. In fact, I wrote those chapters 20 times over, and over, and over, and that if you want to write at a good level, you'll have to do that too.

  • It's like standing on the edge of a cliff. This is especially true of the first draft. Every day you're making up the earth you're going to stand on.

  • Living where I live New York I don't think anyone's going to make a fuss. But it is more deeply satisfying because it's of your place and means that you aren't forgotten; someone's noticed what you have been doing with your life.

  • Our prime minister could embrace and forgive the people who killed our beloved sons and fathers, and so he should, but he could not, would not, apologise to the Aboriginal people for 200 years of murder and abuse. The battle against the Turks, he said in Gallipoli, was our history, our tradition. The war against the Aboriginals, he had already said at home, had happened long ago. The battle had made us; the war that won the continent was best forgotten

  • People do not love those whose eyes show that they are somewhere else

  • Swimming always cleans your soul

  • Then I fell in love and everything went to hell.

  • To know you will be lonely is not the same as being lonely.

  • What I find really attractive is something that's going to be a little dangerous. Something that might get me into trouble; you know, you turn up in London and you've just rewritten Dickens. And, of course, then you think, 'What have I done?

  • Writers are always envious, mean-minded, filled with rage and envyat other's good fortune. There is nothing like the failure of a close friend to cheer us up.

  • You could not tell a story like this. A story like this you could only feel.