"Preface. I started writing when I was eight. I didn't know that I had chained myself for life to a noble but merciless master. When god hands you a gift he also hands you a whip and the whip is only intended for self-flagellation."
"That's enough to put you off writing."
I think it possibly takes more effort to have a movie totally devoid of any book-shelves whatsoever than it does to make one that has at least some somewhere, so the fact that the foggy bookshelves we see out of focus there in the background of this scene in Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother (which came out 20 years ago today) are literally the only bookshelves we see in all of the film feels noticeable to me. (But then I am me and I do have my own particular obsessions.)
The preface that Manuela (Cecilia Roth) reads to her son there is from Truman Capote's book Music For Chameleons, one of multiple signifiers in the film that her son might've been gay -- I mean he's killed two scenes later because of a too passionate Tennessee Williams reaction. We've all been there, kiddo!
Manuela's son wants to be a writer and it makes sense that books and literature disappears altogether from the movie once he does -- the "whip" that Capote speaks of becomes literalized once the melodrama leaps off the page and swallows up Manuela's life. She has her own story to sort out.