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The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers Revised Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1932416947
ISBN-10: 1932416943
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Each of the 23 interviews in this exquisite collection-diplomatically arranged in interviewee alphabetical order-begins with a pithy introduction by the interviewer, noting something anecdotal of the subject's life and work, suggesting thematic commitments that drew interviewer to interviewee and noting the location as well as the interview method employed, from "via the U.S. postal system-I would send him questions on separate pieces of paper, and he would type the answers and send them back," to "The following conversation took place on an old Toshiba calculator." The project's formal structure ends there; what follows is a book in which writers chat uninhibited and present the "writing life" with deep, measured enthusiasm ("Here I am starting a new book," says John Banville. "This is the absolute best stage of it... you might actually get it right this time"), self-deprecating absurdity ("Gaining in gravitas?" Adam Thirlwell asks Tom Stoppard on the subject of weight-gain), or unexpected poignancy (as when Jamaica Kincaid gushes "oh gosh" when asked about her aspirations). The volume is at its strongest when fledgling literati interrogate well-established literary giants-like Nell Freudenberger's sisterly conversation with Grace Paley, or Dave Eggers's respectfully warm tête-à-tête with Joan Didion-and when strong-voiced writers with distinctly different projects (Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan, or ZZ Packer and Edward P. Jones) pair off to explore what drives their work.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Vendela Vida is the author of the novels And Now You Can Go, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, and Girls on the Verge. She lives in Northern California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; Revised edition (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416947
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Howard Goldowsky on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a reader's joy. From the physical presentation --- the book comes wrapped in a thick cover with a nice inside-flap folded over, like a hardcover --- to the content, this is a nicely done production. It is not just fiction writers interviewed here, either. Janet Malcolm, the journalist, was interviewed, and her piece inspired me enough to purchase her book, THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER. And the writers talk about more than just fiction: they cover philosophy, the art of writing, politics, feminism, current events, you name it.

If you're an aspiring writer, this is a very fun, enjoyable book to read when you're tired of reading fiction for inspiration but want to become inspired by other means. As mentioned in the notes, (to paraphrase), "...all of the interviews are long." They all, also, inform and inspire.

Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
I came across this book accidentally. I knew of Always Apprentices but I did not know this book existed until I stumbled across it in a bookstore. I read interviews but writers I would not have come across anywhere else and it reminded me that magazines featuring writers should chiefly introduce readers to new writers, especially those they might not have otherwise discovered. I am glad I found this book. Whether I knew the writer being interviewed or not, I enjoyed the interview.
I sincerely hope that The Believer continues to bring out collections of their interviews and I am sure I will buy each one as it comes out.
Five stars.
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18 of 34 people found the following review helpful By C. Blanc on June 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This series of interviews with contemporary authors who are presumably assumed to be of quality is relevatory for three reasons: the mechanics of writing, the contrast in philosophies, and the psychology of the writers. Most useful is the first, in that writers describe their method of sitting down to write and how they both conceptualize their task and discipline themselves. The second is actually a let-down: almost every writer in this book has the "workshop writer" philosophy, which is one of finding novel situations and putting people in them who then act, predictably, like machine-averaged examples of humanity. The one exception is writer George Saunders, who by tackling life beliefs outside of the ones shared in common by popular music and film and writing, showed us room for movement and actual hope that some pattern other than our current soulless pursuit of pleasure and self-importance can be achieved! Most of these people, philosophically speaking, are the kind of "artistic" dipsticks who sit around trendy bars and spout off about things they do not understand; their basic philosophy is me, me, me. Predictably, the writers from any specific political category write about that identity, and not much else, and the writers from academia write about "the soul" without understanding it has some capacity for choice and self-sacrifice. In the case of all the writers here except for Didion and Saunders, my resolution has become not to read them, because I can hear that kind of amateur doggerel for free at the local Diedrich's. Finally, regarding the psychology of writers, one can rapidly see two camps here: those who want to be writers are a career, and those who write because they feel they have something to contribute in words, some form of idea. I recommend this book to anyone because if your soul is not already plastic you will become resolved to read the latter and not the former.
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