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‘This one better be good. Otherwise you're toast.'

8 November 2014

‘Midway through writing the fucker (his first novel, The Sportswriter)' his literary agent advised him: ‘This one better be good. Otherwise you're toast.' I guess I kinda knew that but (I thought) thanks for putting it so clearly for me.'

‘My audience is someone similar to who I was when I got started with serious reading: a young person - I was 19 - who can simply read... My students at Columbia I teach to read. If you can be a good reader and can think that reading and literature are great pursuits, you can perhaps teach yourself to write. For every ‘lesson' one would try to propound there's a wonderful story or novel that violated any rule. But that's about all.

Most books don't last in the public consciousness beyond the author's lifetime. If mine don't, I still take immense pleasure from the use they were put to in my lifetime - by readers.'

Richard Ford, author of Let Me Be Frank With You in the Observer