Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

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Harper Collins, Aug 22, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 288 pages

Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading the work of their predecessors and contemporaries, says Francine Prose.

In Reading Like a Writer, Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why their work has endured. She takes pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot's Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue, to Flannery O'Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail, and to James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield for clever examples of how to employ gesture to create character. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted.

Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - smallself - www.librarything.com

The thing I remember most is her saying how students tend to think that it’s their job to make damning, snap judgments about books they haven’t read. I guess one has to at least be open to learning the details, eh? Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DanielSTJ - www.librarything.com

This was an amazing guide to reading more critically, expansively, delicately, and memorably. I was very impressed by this book. There were countless examples of what Prose denoted and her ... Read full review

Contents

Close Reading
1
Words
13
Sentences
35
Paragraphs
63
Narration
85
Character
109
Dialogue
143
Details
193
Gesture
209
Learning from Chekhov
233
Reading for Courage
249
Books to Be Read Immediately
270
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About the author (2006)

Francine Prose is the critically acclaimed author of nineteen novels, including the National Book Award Finalist Blue Angel and My New American Life. She has written three other novels for young adults: After, winner of the California Young Reader Medal, an IRA/CBC Young Adults' Choice, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; Bullyville, a PW Best Book and Book Sense Children's Pick; and her most recent, Touch. She is also the author of two picture books, Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig and Rhino, Rhino, Sweet Potato. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, Francine Prose was Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City.

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