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Featuring a gathering of more than fifty of contemporary literature's finest voices, this volume will enchant, move, and inspire readers with its tales of The Writing Life. In it, authors divulge professional secrets: how they first discovered they were writers, how they work, how they deal with the myriad frustrations and delights a writer's life affords. Culled from ten years of the distinguished Washington Post column of the same name, The Writing Life highlights an eclectic group of luminaries who have wildly varied stories to tell, but who share this singularly beguiling career. Here are their pleasures as well as their peeves; revelations of their deepest fears; dramas of triumphs and failures; insights into the demands and rewards. Each piece is accompanied by a brief and vivid biography of the writer by Washington Post Book World editor Marie Arana who also provides an introduction to the collection. The result is a rare view from the inside: a close examination of writers' concerns about the creative process and the place of literature in America. For anyone interested in the making of fiction and nonfiction, here is a fascinating vantage on the writer's world--an indispensable guide to the craft.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781586481490
ISBN-10: 1586481495
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x 28mm)
Pages: 426
Imprint: PublicAffairs,U.S.
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 17-Apr-2003
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Fat, juicy plums from the Washington Post Book World's long-running "Writing Life" column. Book World editor Arana launched her column in 1993 (Stanley Elkin was the first contributor) in the format it retains today: a few paragraphs of biography preceding an essay by the writer of the week on the practice of his or her craft. This collection, loosely organized around such themes as "On Becoming a Writer," "Raw Material," and "Hunkering Down," meanders through everything from practical advice to thoughts of childhood to vague but entertaining musings on a career. We begin with Francine du Plessix Gray's four central principles of writing, Joyce Carol Oates's pointed recollection of bullying and gender roles in childhood, and James Michener's advice on "how to identify and nurture young writers." Alice McDermott, Scott Turow, John Edgar Wideman, Anita Desai, and Julia Alvarez, et al., discuss the roots of their writing. Wendy Wasserstein gives specific instructions on how to get a hotel room and write for a New Year's deadline. Ray Bradbury recalls his long relationship with the movies. Though there is plenty of discussion of the writer's "self-doubt and wry paranoia," as Julian Barnes puts it in an intriguing piece about being literary executor of Dodie Smith's estate, most of the authors more or less comfortably accept that this is, in fact, the career that defines their lives. Challenges are myriad, of course: Michael Chabon fears that readers will too closely identify him with his protagonists (a homosexual, a frustrated author, a bad father), and according to Jimmy Carter, co-authoring Everything to Gain with wife Rosalynn almost broke up their 40-year marriage. A sprawling, addictive addition to a seemingly bottomless category that this month also includes the New York Times anthology Writers on Writing (see below). (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Marie Arana

Marie Arana is the editor in chief of The Washington Post Book World. A former publishing executive, she is author of a highly acclaimed memoir, American Chica. She and her husband, Jonathan Yardley, live in Washington, D.C.

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