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Books  >   Literature and Fiction : Authors, A-Z : ( S ) : Smiley, Jane : 

Writers on Writing, Volume II: More Collected Essays from The New York Times

Smiley, Jane

Times Books
Published:May 14, 2003

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Description: From Publishers Weekly
The 45 writers who contributed to this second compendium of the weekly column in the Times arts section are nearly all A-list names-and highly contemporary, too, as most of the articles originally coincided with the publication of their latest books. The prosaic headlines ("Fiction and Fact Collide, With Unexpected Consequences") obscure the lively tone adopted by most of the authors, who seem to be enjoying the opportunity to wax anecdotal about various aspects of their career. Thus we have Ann Beattie on the book tour, David Shields about reacting to bad reviews, Elinor Lipman on the perils of getting (and giving) jacket blurbs and Stephen Fry's hilarious account of the questions fans ask about his writing methods. Though some of the authors choose to deal with contemporary events, as in A.M. Homes's eyewitness account of September 11 ("not something you want to remember, not something to want to forget"), nobody strays far from the literary, and quite a few offer insights into the creative process. Kathryn Harrison explains how a photograph seen in childhood led to the writing of The Seal Wife, while mystery writer Marcia Muller reveals that she once built scale models of her protagonist's regular haunts to help her understand the character. And Elmore Leonard offers practical advice on how to write better prose, including this gem: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." Aspiring writers will find plenty of inspiration-and helpful counsel-from this collection, in which the writing is less stuffy and more relaxed than in a similar collection from the Washington Post.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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