Tag Archives: Luc Sante



“Honestly: scholars bore me. I don’t have the spine to withstand colorless writing for very long, and furthermore I suspect that colorless writing is indicative of colorless thought.”

Luc Sante

 (Image via the New York TimesPreviously on SFYP.)

Grist for the Mill

For me it tends to be more a matter of finding the links between things. I need to fill out my knowledge of Prague, 1949, or the Elizabethan prose writers, or the cross-migration between New York newspapers and Hollywood in the ’20s and ’30s. I buy every book I see about Gypsies, and most firsthand accounts of vaudeville, and almost everything by lesser-known New Yorker writers of the old regime. I’m always on the lookout for memoirs – frequently by the less-than-famous – that supply concrete details of daily life, rather than simply lists of names or dates of parties or, heaven forfend, litanies of traumas. I like books published before 1940 that are illustrated with photographs; even if those are frequently small and murky, they are rare windows into the past. Books help me construct whole worlds in my mind, and I require an army of books to complete the picture, not that it’s ever truly complete. When I’m truly passionate about a subject, anything can be grist for the mill. Poetry can be as materially informative as journalism, and railroad timetables can be as evocative and lilting as poems. I derive nourishment from the copyright pages, from the publishers’ ads in the back, from even the most misguided attempts at cover design.

Luc Sante