"You're wrong, Nathan. After years in the dark you've finally found your true calling. Now that you don't have to write for money anymore, you're doing the work you were set out to do all along."From The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster
"Ridiculous. No one becomes a writer at sixty."
The former graduate student and literary scholar cleared his throat and begged to differ with me. There were no rules when it came to writing, he said. Take a close up look at the lives of poets and novelists, and what you wound up with was unalloyed chaos, and infinite jumble of exceptions. That was because writing was a disease, Tom continued, what you might call an infection or an inflamation of the spirit, and therefore it could strike anyone at any time. The young and the old, the strong and the weak, the drunk and the sober, the sane and the insane. Scan the roster of the giants and semi-giants, and you would find writers who embraced every sexual proclivity, every political bent, and every human attribute - from the loftiest idealism to the most insiduous corruption. They were criminals and lawyers, spies and doctors, soldiers and spinsters, travelers and shut-ins. If no-one could be excluded, what prevented an almost sixty year-old ex-life insurance agent from joining their ranks? What law declared that nathan Glass had not been infected with the disease?
"Joyce wrote three novels," Tom said. "Balzac wrote ninety. Does it make any difference to us now?"
"Not to me," I said.
"Kafka wrote his first story in one night. Stendhal wrote The Charterhouse of Parma in forty-nine days. Melville wrote Moby Dick in sixteen months. Flaubert spent five years on Madam Bovary. Musil worked for eighteen years on The Man Without Qualities and died before he could finish it. Do we care about any of that now?"