What I liked about Genet, author of Our Lady of the Flowers (a novel) and The Balcony, The Blacks, The Maids, and The Screens (plays), was his exuberance and his complete disdain for all things conventional. There was a vitality in his writing that appealed to me, and it was certainly true as well of Beckett, an Irish writer who was the most dire, the very grimmest of the modernists, but even so, had a joyfulness about him. What you found in Beckett that was so refreshing was a clearing of the decks. He wasn’t interested in any kind of artifice or pretense at all. What you ended up with was a joy in his writing that I loved. It was also very, very funny. What I embraced was the way he swept past the cob-webs of so-called modernism and just got rid of it. Dumped it. Cleaned the table off and said, “Okay, what’s really here?”
In spite of my constant reading, I wasn’t a literary person. I didn’t study books and I didn’t take courses in literature. I pursued literature as a personal refreshment. My opinions didn’t need to be authenticated or verified by anyone else. I read books for their pleasure and their transformative power.