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Spark: How Creativity Works Audible – Unabridged

3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't mean to be unkind here because I appreciate the concept and organization of this book. I wanted to like it much more than I did.

Still, after shelling out good money for the hardcover, I'm ultimately disappointed by what's here. To me, it feels insubstantial, and I wish I had looked through it carefully in a bookstore before purchasing.

Each of the features here (exploring the creative process of several different writers, artists, musicians, etc.) feels quite brief. Some of the profiles are as short as 2-3 pages and come full of journalistic exposition/background.

This is fine in theory, but when I buy a book that promises "How Creativity Works" in its subtitle, I'm hoping for deeper, richer quotations from the profiled artists and less background filler. Do I really need to read, for example, that "[Kevin] Bacon, who starred in films like Footloose, JFK, and Apollo 13, is also renowned as the central character in the trivia game 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon...'"

(And, no offense, but can Kevin Bacon really help us understand how creativity works? Don't get me wrong--I really like the guy's work, but this just isn't what I hoped for.)

Even the longer pieces still feel thin and full of sound bites, rather than concerted reflection on creativity. You may enjoy it if you're looking for brief, breezy slices of NPR-style interview. But if, like me, you were hoping for some sustained dialogue and thinking from these artists, you may want to save your money.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't often comment here on amazon, but this one really prompted me to let everyone know what they are getting themselves into. First of all, the hardcover is around $25 and for that much I have some expectations. Second, the book promises to tell you how creativity works but instead just reads as if it's a transcript from interviews done on a radio show years ago from a lot of people that you've probably never heard of. I don't like sounding harsh, but I was REALLY disappointed with this book. The introduction seems great, I do believe that Julie has a good background to write about the subject of creativity and has some valuable insight; however, she rarely imparts her own wisdom. Instead it seems like just a ploy to use her past interviews to make some money through book sales. It's not worth your time, you won't gain much at all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title is a spin; it sucked me into buying the book, as did the promotions from Public Radio International/National Public Radio.

Who doesn't want to hear the strike of creativity against substance, see the place where many ideas finally ignite a single creative work. That's what "Spark: How Creativity Works" would have been about...if it weren't about the author instead.

Have you ever seen a photograph with the photographer's index finger accidentally in the shot? That's how Spark is. You lose the enchantment of what might have been a lovely shot because all you can see is the author popping in, page after page. There's little space for anything else.

Julie Burstein rightly qualified herself as an expert at the outset, a necessary step. She and her intimate perspective belonged in the intro to the 9/11 piece as she was THERE, a witness. However, Ms. Burstein then continues to insert herself into every intro and into some of the stories as well. She has pride in her work, yeah, but keep it out of my way, as the reader.

The cross section of interviewees was fantastic. Few of the anecdotes inspire. As another reviewer here mentioned, I'd be willing to wager the interviews were more inspirational on the radio than in print.

Visit your local public library. Wait for the paperback, or wait for it to appear at the second-hand bookstore. You might even find it there soon, if you live near me.
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Format: Hardcover
In response to the Ann Arbor Reader's dissatisfaction with the depth (or lack of it) in most of the interviews, I'd heartily recommend the dozen-plus accumulated volumes of the "Paris Review Interviews" series, for vastly deeper insights into the creative lives and m.o.'s of at least the fiction writers of the creative pantheon.

I'd read -- devoured, actually -- the first three of these titles many years ago, when I received them as rewards for helping organize a university library purchase. Since the 1950's era of their publication I believe another ten or more have been issued, featuring more contemporary authors.

The Hemingway piece in the third (I believe) volume was probably the most interesting overall; many nice insights, and unlike when he responded to Fitzgerald's great characterization of the rich (see below), Papa didn't put his foot in his mouth once -- an embarassment hard to avoid when discussing creativity, it seems. And, he wrapped up with a nifty, Zenny aphorism.

Blaise Cendrars also said some neat things. I think he was the one who was the least attached to his role as an author -- "There are more important things in life than writing books!" was his take on the matter. But many, perhaps most, of the reviewed authors offered insights on the creative process to outshine most of the anecdotal material in the presently reviewed title.

For real insights into the creative process, you'd be well advised to peruse some of the top titles in my 500-volume, decade-in-the-building cognitive science-centered research library (I'm doing a publishable Ph.D. dissertation on deep structures of consciousness and solution system design, at work and in life --for Everyperson, yet!).
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