I was at the time under the spell of books which were brief but every page of which was exalted, Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying. This sort of book, like those of Flannery O'Connor, Marguerite Duras, Camus, remains my favorite.
- James Salter, Burning The Days
(Nabokov) Admirable writer. One of a kind. When did he write Speak, Memory? I read chapters in The New Yorker and was struck immediately by the voice. Of course, here’s a poet. You say to yourself, Vladimir, let’s be honest. You are a poet, and you’re just writing a lot of prose. It’s quite good, but we know what you’re really interested in. Speak, Memory seems to me eminently that kind of book. I think, all in all, it’s his best ... It can be read and reread. The notions in it, the leaps of imagination and the language are essentially poetic. When I first read him I said to myself, Well, you might as well quit. But you forget about that after a while ... I’ve nothing but admiration for (Graham) Greene ... (Isaac Babel) has the three essentials of greatness: style, structure, and authority. There are other writers who have that, of course—Hemingway, in fact, had those three things. But Babel particularly appeals to me because of the added element of his life, which seems to me to give his work an additional poignancy ... Of all the stories I have read, the greatest number that are near the top come from Babel and Chekhov.