John Gardner On Becoming a Novelist

ISBN 13: 9780393320039

On Becoming a Novelist

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"One of the greatest creative writing teachers we've ever had." ―Frederick Busch

On Becoming a Novelist contains the wisdom accumulated during John Gardner's distinguished twenty-year career as a fiction writer and creative writing teacher. With elegance, humor, and sophistication, Gardner describes the life of a working novelist; warns what needs to be guarded against, both from within the writer and from without; and predicts what the writer can reasonably expect and what, in general, he or she cannot. "For a certain kind of person," Gardner writes, "nothing is more joyful or satisfying than the life of a novelist." But no other vocation, he is quick to add, is so fraught with professional and spiritual difficulties. Whether discussing the supposed value of writer's workshops, explaining the role of the novelist's agent and editor, or railing against the seductive fruits of literary elitism, On Becoming a Novelist is an indispensable, life-affirming handbook for anyone authentically called to the profession. "A miraculously detailed account of the creative process."―Anne Tyler, Baltimore Sun

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Picture the poor, young, serious-fiction writer. He toils alone at a pace not so different from that of Lincoln Tunnel traffic at rush hour in New York. His spouse has a "real" job, or perhaps he has a trust fund. His college friends are cashing in on their dot-coms and wondering if he's ever going to join the real world. He is not hell-bent on publication; he is trying to write "serious, honest fiction, the kind of novel that readers will find they enjoy reading more than once, the kind of fiction likely to survive." He's likely to have no idea whether he's succeeding. Nobody understands him.

Well, almost nobody. John Gardner understands him. Gardner's sympathetic On Becoming a Novelist is the novelist's ultimate comfort food--better than macaroni and cheese, better than chocolate. Gardner, a fiction writer himself (Grendel), knows in his bones the desperate questioning of a writer who's not sure he's up to the task. He recognizes the validation that comes with being published, just as he believes that "for a true novel there is generally no substitute for slow, slow baking." Gardner also has strong feelings about what kinds of workshops help (and whom they help), and what kinds hinder. But a full half of Gardner's book is devoted to an exploration of the writer's nature. The storyteller's intelligence, he says, "is composed of several qualities, most of which, in normal people, are signs of either immaturity or incivility." In addition, a writer needs "verbal sensitivity, accuracy of eye," and "an almost demonic compulsiveness." But wait--there's more. A writer needs to be driven, and to be driven, he says insightfully, "a psychological wound is helpful." --Jane Steinberg

About the Author:

John Gardner was the best-selling author of more than 25 books and taught creative writing at many universities, among them Chico State, Bennington College, and SUNY-Binghamton. His novels Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, and October Light are regarded as modern classics. He was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1982 at the age of 49.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780060149567: On Becoming a Novelist

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0060149566 ISBN 13:  9780060149567
Publisher: Harpercollins, 1983
Hardcover

9780060911263: ON BECOMING A NOVELIST

Harper..., 1985
Softcover

9780844671208: On Becoming a Novelist

Peter ..., 2001
Hardcover

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. On Becoming a Novelist contains the wisdom accumulated during John Gardner s distinguished twenty-year career as a fiction writer and creative writing teacher. With elegance, humor, and sophistication, Gardner describes the life of a working novelist; warns what needs to be guarded against, both from within the writer and from without; and predicts what the writer can reasonably expect and what, in general, he or she cannot. `For a certain kind of person,` Gardner writes, `nothing is more joyful or satisfying than the life of a novelist.` But no other vocation, he is quick to add, is so fraught with professional and spiritual difficulties. Whether discussing the supposed value of writer s workshops, explaining the role of the novelist s agent and editor, or railing against the seductive fruits of literary elitism, On Becoming a Novelist is an indispensable, life-affirming handbook for anyone authentically called to the profession. `A miraculously detailed account of the creative process.` Anne Tyler, Baltimore Sun. Seller Inventory # AAC9780393320039

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. On Becoming a Novelist contains the wisdom accumulated during John Gardner s distinguished twenty-year career as a fiction writer and creative writing teacher. With elegance, humor, and sophistication, Gardner describes the life of a working novelist; warns what needs to be guarded against, both from within the writer and from without; and predicts what the writer can reasonably expect and what, in general, he or she cannot. `For a certain kind of person,` Gardner writes, `nothing is more joyful or satisfying than the life of a novelist.` But no other vocation, he is quick to add, is so fraught with professional and spiritual difficulties. Whether discussing the supposed value of writer s workshops, explaining the role of the novelist s agent and editor, or railing against the seductive fruits of literary elitism, On Becoming a Novelist is an indispensable, life-affirming handbook for anyone authentically called to the profession. `A miraculously detailed account of the creative process.` Anne Tyler, Baltimore Sun. Seller Inventory # BTE9780393320039

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. On Becoming a Novelist contains the wisdom accumulated during John Gardner s distinguished twenty-year career as a fiction writer and creative writing teacher. With elegance, humor, and sophistication, Gardner describes the life of a working novelist; warns what needs to be guarded against, both from within the writer and from without; and predicts what the writer can reasonably expect and what, in general, he or she cannot. `For a certain kind of person,` Gardner writes, `nothing is more joyful or satisfying than the life of a novelist.` But no other vocation, he is quick to add, is so fraught with professional and spiritual difficulties. Whether discussing the supposed value of writer s workshops, explaining the role of the novelist s agent and editor, or railing against the seductive fruits of literary elitism, On Becoming a Novelist is an indispensable, life-affirming handbook for anyone authentically called to the profession. `A miraculously detailed account of the creative process.` Anne Tyler, Baltimore Sun. Seller Inventory # AAC9780393320039

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