I believe you write the book you want to read. As a reader what I craved was some recognition, however refracted, of the tumult of lived experience, of the pain and absurdity of trying to reach other human beings with some modicum of honesty and openness. And so without quite realizing what I was doing, over the course of the next few years, I wrote a series of stories that eventually became my first book, each of which dramatized in one way or another this struggle: how to find intimacy in a culture that has hollowed out the very language we use to describe it. How to capture the experience of grief when our terms for it have been overrun by the commercialization of confession. The enemy wasn’t New Criticism. It was cliché.

I was trying to write prose whose rhythm created an atmosphere, a music, that allowed the nuances of human isolation, the desire to overcome it, and what it felt like to fail or sometimes briefly succeed in defying that isolation rise into the consciousness of a reader. What I believed then, and still do, is that in a violent, distracted, media-saturated world the most needed artistic resource is no longer a critique of the possibility of meaning—mass culture itself has become that critique. What is needed, rather, is the production of meaning that resists distraction. Consumer capitalism thrives by simultaneously creating human loneliness and commodifying a thousand cures for it. One form of resistance to it is the experience in art and life of a human intimacy achieved through sustained attention to what lies beyond and outside the sphere of the market.

Adam Haslett, “The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer”