"What I can tell you is, I can't do any better than this," he remarks. "I remember a scene in (the film) Apocalypse Now, where Marlon Brando does this improvisation, and at the end he says, `That's all I can do today. If you want something else, get a better actor.' I kind of feel like that. This book has all my technique, it's about a subject I really care about; I thought while writing it, if it doesn't work, I don't know what I'm going to do, but probably I won't write another novel for a long time.... In poker parlance, this was a hand I really wanted to win."
The award, he maintains, has rescued his writing career from the doldrums. "There have been moments in the last 10 or 15 years where I've felt deeply irrelevant — just really, really irrelevant — as if I could just stop doing this and not only would people not care, they wouldn't even notice," he comments. "That's a very depressing place to land. With this book I thought, `If I give this book everything and it just vanishes, I'm out of tricks.'
"The real enemy for a writer, it's not booze. It's vanity that will kill you deader than anything else. Well, my vanity over the last few novels — how should I put it? — has been really, really punctured."