Jesus was a writing instructor and also an editor at a major publishing house. He was a much better instructor than editor because he liked almost everything he read. The only thing he didn’t like was when undergraduates turned in stories that lacked compassion. Great fiction, he said, is born of empathy. You have to walk along with your character, he told his students, and when your character asks why there is only one set of footprints you respond, because that is where I carried you. A novel, he would say, is not a hate letter. Though, like most things, there was an exception. The exception was The Sheltering Sky, which Paul Bowles wrote as a hate letter to his wife, Jane Bowles. That’s a great novel, Jesus would say.
— Stephen Elliott, in today’s Daily Rumpus.