Saturday, September 22, 2007

Books that help me

Jane Smiley’s Thirteen Way of Looking At a Novel, especially Chapter 10, “A Novel of Your Own (I).” Every time I need moral support, I go back and re-read that chapter.

I use this book almost like a reference tool. It’s 12 chapters on different aspects of reading or writing novels, and then a section with short commentaries on each of 100 novels that she read during a one-year period. I’m frequently looking in the index to see what she thought of a particular book and then getting tempted to reread one of her chapters about the art of the novel or morality in the novel, etc.

She references her own work a lot and it’s interesting to hear how ambivalent or indifferent she is about a couple of my favorites such as The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton and A Thousand Acres, which is one of my favorite 20th century novels.

The last chapter is a case study of writing her book Good Faith. It’s an interesting detailed breakdown of what it’s like for an experienced writer when a novel seems blocked and how she found the way out of it.

No comments: