Everything Is Interrogated

Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer on 9-11, a Jay-Z sample, and the lowercase virtues of fiction

I'm not sure that I try to make myself vulnerable, but I know that I feel hugely vulnerable when I write. Nothing in life makes me feel more exposed and self-conscious. (That's true even when I'm writing something I know I won't share.) Nothing is less obviously meaningful than writing. It just doesn't go without saying that one should spend hours in a room putting words on a page. More than anything I know of, writing demands to be justified. It perpetually begs the question: Why do this at all? It's writing's blessing and its curse.

Kafka said that writing is a form of prayer. Does this concept ring true for you?

"I don't see where I'm going until I'm there": Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close author Foer
photo: Shaune McDowell
"I don't see where I'm going until I'm there": Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close author Foer

It does. But Kafka didn't believe in God, and neither do I. So what did he mean that I'm agreeing with? A prayer, OK, but a prayer to whom?

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