“I have always prized the accessible over the obscure, but after reading Housekeeping [by Marilynne Robinson] I can see that in some ways the easy, accessible novel is working at a disadvantage (not that Housekeeping is inaccessible, but it is deep and dark and rich): it’s possible to whiz through it without allowing it even to touch the sides, and a bit of side-touching has to happen if a book is going to be properly transformative. If you are so gripped by a book that you want to read it in the mythical single sitting, what chance has it got of making it all the way through the long march to your soul? It’ll get flushed out by something else before it’s even halfway there. The trouble is that most literary novels don’t do anything but touch the sides. They stick to them like sludge, and in the end you have to get the garden hose out. (I have no idea what that might mean. But I had to escape from the metaphor somehow.)”
—Nick Hornby, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt
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“It butters no parsnips.”