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Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers Paperback – September 21, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"Page Fright is a splendid omnibus of why writers write, what keeps them writing, and what happens when they stop (willingly or not)."
Globe and Mail

"An essential book. . . . Buy it. Read it." 
Peter C. Newman

"Page Fright is popcorn for the literary-loving mind." 
Winnipeg Free Press

"Bruce gives readers much to savour . . . you can virtually start anywhere and find something to inspire and fascinate." 
Ottawa Citizen

"An effervescent new book."
— National Post

"Entertaining and essential reading for fans of writing."
— Atlantic Books Today

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Harry Bruce, a Halifax-based author of many books, has been gathering these stories all of his life.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Emblem Editions; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771017138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771017131
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I read the introduction to "Page Fright", I laughed out loud, silence in the library be damned. Author Harry Bruce described how British novelist Stephen Fry's public appearances invariably included the following questions from the audience:

"Do you write in longhand or on a computer?"
"PC or Mac?"
"Which size font do you prefer?"

I laughed because as a published writer, I've gotten those questions myself. They're spawned by the misguided belief that a foolproof formula for guaranteed publication exists, and if you ask the `lucky ones' what their work habits are, you, too, shall one day find your name on a bookstore shelf among the rest of the chosen.

In "Page Fright", Harry Bruce combines this curiosity about the habits of successful writers with some truly entertaining examples of crazy rituals, destructive habits, and bizarre mindsets that afflicted Balzac, Flaubert, Hemingway, Kerouac, and other greats. In between the chapters dedicated to this dark hilarity, however, are fascinating histories of the quill pen, the pencil, the typewriter, the word processor, and other writers' tools, as well as comments from the writers who favored each one. Bruce also presents author comment on writer's block, first novel syndrome, and other career hurdles that may or may not exist depending on who you talk to.

This is by far the most unique and enjoyable history of the writing craft that I have read in a long time. Well done!
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Format: Hardcover
Writers are interesting people, often more interesting than the characters they create. Henry Bruce's book "Page Fright" clearly points that out with the magnitude of information he shares about the famous and infamous.

"Page Fright" begins with a historical perspective of the creation of language and, subsequently, paper and pen, and then evolves into the most interesting tidbits about writers and their works. For example, did you know that John Steinbeck wrote with a round pencil because he pushed so hard on a hexagonal one that he would cut his fingers? That James Thurber refused to write with a typewriter despite being so blind that he could only manage to write nine words at a time in crayon on a large sheet of paper? Or that Ernest Hemingway rewrote the last page of "A Farewell to Arms" 39 times because he wanted to "get it right"? This book has 316 pages containing similar tintillating information.

Bruce's book will apeal to those interested in discovering more about writers and what encouraged, discouraged, engaged or hindered them from creating internationally-recognized masterpieces. It is quite readable, enjoyable, well-researched and interesting. "Page Fright" is quite a different book, but one anyone who has a curiousity about history, or who has struggled with any form of writing will enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. It is a book about writing and not about getting published. It is the writers' "how and why" and not a "how to". It is a joy to consume and it should be read by writers, would be writers, readers, historians and people with an interest in the curious workings of the writer's mind and life. This was a huge task as literature and writers are so diverse. It is seemingly impossible to unite them into a common theme but Harry Bruce has done this, and done it well. It is a travel through time and technology. It proceeds through papyrus to pen and it is about people and their personal peccadilloes - and much more. I agree with writer Ray Robertson's review in the Globe & Mail that it is "and admirably assembled and easily consumable compendium of choice anecdotes and most sensible reflections about all facets of the writing life." It is a superb work. It is easy to read due to the fine and fluid writing style, no doubt coming from Harry's own 50 plus years as writer and journalist. It is a pleasure to read. You can either devour just a few pages and easily pick it up at a later time, or what is usually the case, get immersed in the history and wonder of the topic through the grace of the writing and find that you have knocked off most of the book. As I did in one plane ride.

It should be noted that the Editor-in-Chief for this book is the Canadian publishing icon Douglas Gibson who only chooses a few books to personally work on each year. The editing is flawless. Even the cover art is good. On the front is a caricature of Mark Twain bashing an old style typewriter with his cane and on the back is Victor Hugo who would write would write naked standing up at his lectern.
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Format: Paperback
When I first came across this book,I knew I would enjoy it;I just didn't realize how much."Books About Books "has been one of my favorite genre for a long time and I have lots of them in my personal library.Also much the same for "Books of Quotations",of which there is a lot of comparability.
Anyone who reads a lot, tends to have favorite writers and likes to read about their lifestyle,and personalities.One can find a lot in Biographies and Autobiographies;but if you really want to know these things about a lot of writers;you'll search for a long time before you'll find so much all in one place;actually 351 pages of information,including an extensive Bibliography of 20 pages and a detailed Index.
I won't bother with quoting some of the interesting things I found in this book about some of my favorite writers,as mine probably will differ from yours.
The book also deals with the whole "World Of Writing" from the beginning,the implements used for writing and the materials the writing was and is inscribed on.It also deals with the preference of the writers for tools of their trade,their working locations and hours they preferred to work.It also covers the reasons they wrote,how it affected others around them and theit all had on the mphysically and mentally. And then for some it was their physical and mental state that influenced why and what they wrote.Much like all those who make a form of art their life,there are bound to be great differences.
To say that this book is a treasure,is an understatement.The reviews here are all worth reading as are those on Amazon .Ca,the Canadian version of Amazon.com.
Harry Bruce is a Canadian writer with over 50 years experience,but his book covers writers throughout the Western World and all through the ages.
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