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Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0472067749
ISBN-10: 0472067745
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  • Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"I've been greatly instructed by these brilliant essays, many of which I first heard as lectures by my fellow faculty members in the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Now, happily, writers everywhere can profit from these essential and inspiring words."

--Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever "Bringing the Devil To His Knees" brings to the reader exactly the right mix of wisdom and humility. The solutions these writers offer to problems of craft and presentation are hard-earned, and it is the difficult cost of their knowledge, and the clarity with which they explain it, that makes this such an important and helpful book. It's less How To than What If?, which seems to me the wisest and most practical tact for a book of this sort to take. I would put it on my bookshelf between other indispensable guides to fictional craft--Flaubert's Letters and Madame Bovary itself."

--Michael Parker, author of Towns Without Rivers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Charles Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (June 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472067745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472067749
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Eremite VINE VOICE on May 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'd say the value of any book on writing can be based on its ability to instruct or inspire. Most people buying these kinds of books are looking for advice on how to be better writers, or simply the spark that'll get them started. (I'm not counting the thornier issue of publication.) This collection of talks/essays from the Warren Wilson MFA writing program includes the following:

"Omniscience," Russo -- Claims that the all-knowing third person narrator is the most mature and thereby most desirable literary perspective. A little pompous in places, but entertaining (like most of Russo's work) and almost convincing. 4/5

"Know Myself," Shepard -- Argues that epiphanies are the siren songs of literature: authors think they need them, but they ruin plots. A compelling essay, but mostly it's just an evaluative praise piece for Robert Stone's short story, "Helping." 4/5

"Iago," Neville -- A treatise on how evil (or Evil) is the fire in the belly of all great stories. Juicy, insightful, and an all-around inspiring essay. 5/5

"Voice," Schwartz -- Short and too-the-point, and yet it resists all attempts at summation. Schwartz takes a complicated and overly-trendy subject -- how writers find their "voice" and what that even means -- and makes it relatable and workable. 5/5

"Mask," Wachtel -- Long, pointless, and over-written. Not only does the author fail to make any relevant or specific points at all, but he even admits as much at the end of the essay. Tries (and fails) to do in 17 pages what the previous essay just did in 6. 0/5

"Weight," Silber -- Brief and forgettable essay on perspective that makes a few interesting comparisons but fails to come to any real conclusions.
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5 Comments 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Although this book wasn't necessarily riveting, envisioning the devil at the heart of fiction writing is most intriguing. Baxter and Turchi combine essays and anecdotes dealing with issues on, technique, devices, and strategies. These anecdotes allow the reader to engage in a sort of dialogue with other published writers who may experience similar problems with creating fiction.

In this book the Devil is interpreted as inhibition; what ever is keeping the writer from writing. But it is the intimacy with this Devil (bringing Him to His knees) that is necessary in order to progress as a fiction writer. This Devil teaches the writer more about him/herself than anything else, as long as he is acknowldged and entertained.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to purchase this book for a class on the craft of writing fiction. I have been very pleased with the generous amount of information it has provided. If you want to be a writer and need a good basis for what other writers do in their pursuit of crafting good fiction this is a great place to start. From what I understand it is also out of print so if you find a copy, snatch it up.
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By Deb on September 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
seller great, college purchase
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Serious, well-written, thoughtful and engaging. For any writer who seriously wants to pursue the craft of fiction, this is a must.
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