Who should be the next American Nobel Prize winner?
CORMAC McCARTHY: Would you wish the Nobel Prize off on a friend or an enemy?
What would you have done, do you think, if it hadn’t been for writing?
CORMAC McCARTHY: I think I can say that if I hadn’t been a writer I’d have been what I have been all my life anyway: one more unemployed person of dubious character.
From “Don’t Everybody Talk at Once! (The Esquire Literary Survey).” Published in Esquire, August 1986.
The “article” consists of a ten-question questionnaire Esquire fiction editor Rust Hills sent to around fifty American writers. These are the only two answers from Cormac McCarthy.
I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”
Read all of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.