|Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
The best preparation I could have had for a life as a novelist was life as a newspaper reporter. At a time when more impressionistic renderings of events were beginning to creep into the news pages, I learned to look always for the telling detail: the neon sign in the club window, the striped towel on the deserted beach. I learned to distinguish between those details that simply existed and those that revealed. Those telling details are the essence of fiction that feels real. The command of those details explains why Charles Dickens, a onetime reporter, has a byline for the ages.
I learned, from decades of writing down their words verbatim in notebooks, how real people talk. I learned that syntax and rhythm were almost as individual as a fingerprint, and that one quotation, precisely transcribed and intentionally untidied, could delineate a character in a way that pages of exposition never could. And I learned to make every word count. All those years of being given 1,200 words, of having the 1,200 pared to 900 at 3 o'clock: it teaches you to make the distinction between what is necessary and what is simply you in love with the sound of your own voice. The most important thing I ever do from an editing perspective is cut. I learned how to do that in newsrooms, where cutting is commonplace, swift, and draconian.
That’s where I learned about writer's block, too. People have writer's block not because they can't write, but because they despair of writing eloquently. That's not the way it works, and one of the best places to learn that is a newspaper, which in its instant obsolescence is infinitely forgiving. Jacques Barzun once wrote: "Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands." Journalism is the professional embodiment of that soothing sentiment.
Of course, it is also the professional embodiment of fact-finding, and that, more than anything else, is why the notion of a journalist who is also a novelist perplexes readers. "I could never make it up," one of the very best reporters I've ever known said to me. But that notion of untrammeled invention becomes illusory after a while. If you manage to build characters from the ground up carefully, make them really real, your ability to invent decreases as their verisimilitude grows. Certain people will only behave in certain ways; certain behaviors will only lead to certain other behaviors. The entire range of possible events decreases as characters choose one road, not another. Plot is like a perspective drawing, its possible permutations growing narrower and narrower, until it reaches a fixed point in the distance. That point is the ending. Life is like that. Fiction is like life, at least if it is good. And I know life. I learned it as a newspaper reporter, and now I reflect that education as a novelist. --Anna Quindlen
There are far too many characters who aren't even integral to the story.
Anna has a way to take us into situations that can be quite uncomfortable and makes one feel so many different emotions all at once.
I loved the book because the characters were very well developed and likable and the story was intense.
hard to read emotionally really does make you remember 2 appreciate the relationship you have every momentPublished 5 days ago by Jeanne Dill
Anna Quindlen has written a story with so much depth and understanding when it comes to the complicated issues in family relationships and how not picking up details with one... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Molly
Which is worse? Living through the unspeakable, or living after the unspeakable? Quindlen mesmerizes the reader for the first half of the book with a family life description from... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Norma Andreasen
I enjoy a book that is well written. I appreciate an author with a good command of the language. She takes you into the heart and mind of her principal character. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Patricia Morrow Berggren
Poignant but so well written novel of how lives can change in an instant. Couldn't put it down.Published 15 days ago by klomaz
Beautifully written. Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite authors. She does not disappoint in this effort.Published 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
I have never read anything from this author before, but I have just recently checked into other books by her after reading Every Last One. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I almost stopped reading but so glad I didn't. Excellent twist and also gave me I insight to my friend and her tragic loss.Published 1 month ago by Rae