What is this thing called a kiss? French, tongue, soul, chaste, motherly, fatherly, brotherly, sisterly, ass, genital, Judas, trembling, rough, hesitant, sweet, soft, wet, dying, fevered, good-night, farewell, burning, and chocolate.
He may have liked many other things, but we know for certain only that he liked a sweet summer breeze, stars shining softly above, memories (made of This), his mother's rosary and her posary, an old-fashioned melody, broken hearts, baby shoes, a garden of love made just for two, moments passing into hours, pretty hubbahubba babies, the roses of Picardy, the moment when the band started playing, a little home for two, gleaming candlelight, beautiful Alsace-Lorraine, heavens above, and smiles that make you happy.
Outside of the dreary rubbish that is churned out by god knows how many hacks of varying degrees of talent, the novel is, it seems to me, a very special and rarefied kind of literary form, and was, for a brief moment only, wide-ranging in its sociocultural influence. For the most part, it has always been an acquired taste and it asks a good deal from its audience. Our great contemporary problem is in separating that which is really serious from that which is either frivolously and fashionably "radical" and that which is a kind of literary analogy to the Letterman show. It's not that there is pop culture around, it's that so few people can see the difference between it and high culture, if you will. Morton Feldman is not Stephen Sondheim. The latter is a wonderful what-he-is, but he is not what-he-is-not. To pretend that he is is to insult Feldman and embarrass Sondheim, to enact a process of homogenization that is something like pretending that David Mamet, say, breathes the same air as Samuel Beckett. People used to understand that there is, at any given time, a handful of superb writers or painters or whatever--and then there are all the rest. Nothing wrong with that. But it now makes people very uncomfortable, very edgy, as if the very idea of a Matisse or a Charles Ives or a Thelonious Monk is an affront to the notion of "ain't everything just great!" We have the spectacle of perfectly nice, respectable, harmless writers, etc., being accorded the status of important artists...Essentially the serious novelist should do what s/he can do and simply forgo the idea of a substantial audience.