The homeland of a writer, [someone] said, is his language. […] Though it’s also true that a writer’s homeland isn’t his language or isn’t only his language but the people he loves. And sometimes a writer’s homeland isn’t the people he loves but his memory. And other times a writer’s only homeland is his steadfastness and his courage. In fact, a writer can have many homelands, and sometimes the identity of that homeland depends greatly on what he’s writing at the moment. It’s possible to have many homelands, it occurs to me now, but only one passport, and that passport is obviously the quality of one’s writing. Which doesn’t mean writing well, because anyone can do that, but writing incredibly well, and not even that, because anyone can write incredibly well. So what is top-notch writing? The same thing it’s always been: the ability to peer into the darkness, to leap into the void, to know that literature is basically a dangerous undertaking.
Roberto Bolaño. From Between Parenthesis which I happily discovered at the local library last week.
A philosophy teacher I had once said (something like) you could do worse than to read a little Montaigne every day, to which I would add Bolaño.