From Library Journal
Both of these anthologies introduce the early writings of a number of successful writers. Breaking into Print offers short stories--many the first the authors ever published--of 17 authors well known in literary circles (such as Tim O'Brien, Mona Simpson, and Carolyn Ferrell). The stories were originally published in the prestigious Ploughshares literary magazine. Alongside these wonderful stories, editor Henry (cofounder of Ploughshares) has included what he calls "Shoptalk," small excerpts from various sources on writing issues germane to the story at hand. Perhaps even more intriguing are the occasional introductions and comments from the authors themselves on the circumstances surrounding the creation of a particular story, as well as entertaining anecdotes from Henry on how a particular story was "discovered" at Ploughshares. First Words includes authors who are more recognizable to the general public: Rita Dove, Stephen King, John Updike, and 19 others. But the most striking difference between the anthologies is the age of the authors at the time: Here we have Norman Mailer at ten, Ursula Le Guin at four, Michael Crichton at 14. This material, along with photocopies of original handwritten pages and early manuscript revisions, is quite revealing from the standpoint of literary research. Be forewarned, however: many of the selections are high school newspaper articles or childhood fantasy stories and are not the type of reading with which most people would want to curl up. Both books are recommended for all types of libraries.-Angela Weiler, SUNY at Morrisville Lib.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Forty-two writers were brave and generous enough to send Mandelbaum their childhood manuscripts. Photographs of the authors thenand now as well as facsimile reproductions of their submissions enliven this unique collection, as do Mandelbaum's pithy and engaging profiles of each author. Many writers share memories about their first forays into literature. Jill McCorkle fondly recalls her cozy little playhouse where she wrote stories that "had" to "get a laugh or a tear," while others recall how reading and writing lifted them out of the confines of childhood or profound shyness. Every submission is of interest, but some are simply hilarious, such as Margaret Atwood's satirical essay on why women should smoke cigars, and Paul Bowles' droll little dramas about love triangles, written at age 9. Precocity and sophistication beyond experience prevail. John Updike's startlingly accomplished "Untitled Mystery" was composed at age 14, while the obsessions of Michael Crichton and Stephen King were already apparent in their earliest compositions. Other contributors include Madison Smartt Bell, Gail Godwin, W. P. Kinsella, Bobbie Ann Mason, Norman Mailer, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Gore Vidal. Donna Seaman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.