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The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art Paperback – September 14, 2004
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Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not a how-to write book, but rather, a personal take how Oates and other writers like Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and several other notables approach the craft of writing. The most interesting essay, "Notes on Failure," examines the helpful role failure can play when striving for memorable writing. Oates discusses James Joyce's difficulty in getting his first novel published before he wrote the classic "Ulysses." In response to the repeated rejections, "Joyce retreated, and allowed himself ten years to write a masterpiece."
Oates also ponders topics such as inspiration, her early childhood influences, reading as a writer, and self-criticism. Her tone throughout each short essay is crisp and direct, often compelling and endearing, like a schoolteacher who always demands the best. Oates stresses that writing when done well, like any other artistic endeavor, is a craft. She believes, "inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make `art': for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned."
Oates' slender volume is a beautiful rumination and worthy addition to her large catalog of work. She manages to pin down and examine the elusive nature of the muse.
But like listening to a good friend relate stories of her life and how she goes about her craft, Oates enlightens rather than frightens: she adds additional insight to her works of fiction rather than tear down my perceptions of them.
Oates on writers: (they have)..."an affinity for risk, danger, mystery, a certain derangement of the soul; a craving for distress, the predilection for insomnia." And as an extension Oates states these are the people who create "the highest form of the human spirit, Art."
Going against the common notion that we should write what we know (and Oates's works certainly support this contention): "The artist can inhabit any individual for the individual is irrelevant to art."
Like most great artists, Oates writes because she can't help it, it's in her blood and anyone who has read any of her works would have to agree that there are drops of blood as well as sweat on each page of her work.
"The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art" by Joyce Carol Oates
Number of Pages: 176
Year Published: September 23, 2003
Price: Paperback version is $11.95; hardcover version is $21.95 (Paperback is widely available and discounted at Amazon.com; Hardcover version is available through Amazon.com, but via other sellers (used); also available at the Northwestern University Library).
Ideal Audience: This book would be useful in many classroom settings. The youngest audience would probably be high school level junior and senior "Introduction to Creative Writing" students. If used in an undergraduate or graduate level creative writing setting, the essays would be best utilized as both inspiration and models for future individual writing. This would also be very helpful in a "Continuing Education" program, possibly associated with a local community center, library or community college.
Brief Summary: This book contains 12 essays and a brief interview with Oates (led by Greg Johnson). The essays explore Oates' inspirations and motivations for becoming a writer. She offers specific advice to young writers ("write your heart out" and to read as often as they can. Oates touches on her first memories as a child and how the book, "Alice in Wonderland," had a profound affect on her life. She also examines her passion for running and illustrates how running feeds her mind and allows her to be very creative. Other essays discuss failure, inspiration (of other writers), how to read as a writer, the process of self-criticism, and a glimpse of Oates' writing studio.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I puzzled for a time on how many stars to give this book -- I find that some of what she says does not apply to me. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Thomas C. Fletcher
This book is about the art of writing. Oates tells us that 'writing is not a race ... the satisfaction is in the effort. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Paula Cappa Reviews
It's a good book for young aspiring writers. It's also a kind of literary guide to particularly American writers as Oates uses classical and well-known writers as examples. Read morePublished 15 months ago by LENA BRUSELID
JCO offers unique insights into the creative process and her own personal love affair (with all the attendant feelings) with writing. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Avid reader
As a widely-published, but largely self-taught writer, I collect and study books on the craft. My library is fairly extensive. Read morePublished 19 months ago by John L. Moore
It's like taking a course with JCO! So many insights, ideas, commentaries on the great writers of our time. I love it and hope it will help me refine my own work.Published 20 months ago by Margaret
The books came on time. I had reserved the book from the library but wanted to own it. One for me and one as a gift.Published 23 months ago by trish
JCO does her thing ... in this case offering her experiences about how to become an engaged writer; what it means to put your visions into language. No one does it better. Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Trineman
As someone who is trying his hand at writing fiction for the first time I was relieved to learn from Ms. Read morePublished on April 12, 2013 by Sugafoot