Oh God yes, we must all struggle against all that is cautious, already seen, fatigued, shopworn. I battle against what my admirable colleague William Gass calls pissless prose, prose that lacks the muscle, the physicality, the gait of a good horse, for pissless prose is bodiless and has no soul. Of course this holds equally true for fiction as for essays, reporting, a letter to a friend, a book review, a decent contribution to art criticism—in sum I search for language in which faith intertwines with desire, faith that we can recapture, with erotic accuracy, that treasured memory or vision which is the object of our desire. I’m keen on the word voluptuous, a word too seldom heard in this society founded on puritanical principles. I think back to a phrase of Julia Kristeva’s, the most interesting feminist thinker of our time, who speaks of ‘the voluptuousness of family life.’ I would apply the same phrase to the prose I most admire, prose I can caress and nurture and linger on, diction that is nourished by the deep intimacy of familiar detail, and yet is constantly renewed by the force of the writer’s love and fidelity to language.
Francine du Plessix Gray