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?

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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