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The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

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Length: 45 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ann Patchett's The Getaway Car doesn't offer prospective writers a step-by-step guide to the craft of fiction. Instead, this primer from the highly-respected novelist mostly shares her own experiences--her childhood dream, her life as a struggling writer who sets aside her work to make ends meet, and her ultimate success, reached with the help of teacher/mentors like Russell Banks and Grace Paley. Though Patchett attributes much of her achievements to good luck and hard work, her story contains enough specific advice ("The ability to forgive oneself" is crucial, Patchett writes) and words of encouragement to make it worth a read. --Shirley Hong

Product Details

  • File Size: 356 KB
  • Print Length: 45 pages
  • Publisher: Byliner (August 25, 2011)
  • Publication Date: August 25, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JEXTBO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
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More About the Author

Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963 and raised in Nashville. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. It was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1992. In 1993, she received a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingrahm Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. Patchett's second novel, Taft, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction in 1994. Her third novel, The Magician's Assistant, was short-listed for England's Orange Prize and earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship.Her next novel, Bel Canto, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was named the Book Sense Book of the Year. It sold more than a million copies in the United States and has been translated into thirty languages. In 2004, Patchett published Truth & Beauty, a memoir of her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy. It was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly. Truth & Beauty was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She was also the editor of Best American Short Stories 2006.Patchett has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times magazine, Harper's, The Atlantic,The Washington Post, Gourmet, and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As improbable as it may seem, Ann Patchett knew she wanted to be a writer at about the same time she was learning how to ride a tricycle. "I may have been shaky about tieing my shoes and telling time, but I was sure about my career, and I consider this certainty the greatest gift of my life."

In "The Getaway Car" Patchett writes with verve and sparkle about what that decision to become a writer has meant to her and how she went about fulfilling her unwavering ambition.

The getaway car in the title is a reference to the novel she was thinking about at the time she was working as a waitress. That novel was to be her getaway car to get her away from the restaurant for good. "The Patron Saint of Liars" became that novel.

Part autobiography, part primer for people who are or want to be writers, "The Getaway Car" is a whopping good way to get instruction from someone who grew up being very good at what she does.

Here are a couple tips:
Be linear: "Even if you're writing a book that jumps around in time, has ten points of view and is chest deep in flashback, do your best to write in the order in which it will be read, because it will make the writing, and the later editing, incalculably easier."

Revise aloud: "One method of revision that I find both loathsome and indispensable is reading my work aloud when I'm finished. There are things I can hear - the repetition of words, a particularly flat sentence - that I don't otherwise catch."

Come up with 10 titles: Develop a list of ten alternatives. "Do it fast. Don't think about it too much." Type each of the ten on a separate piece of paper. Tape pages to wall. On your own, or with friends, eliminate the one you like least.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ann Patchett may have created an entirely new genre with this "how I write" Kindle Single.

Obviously working from outlines and notes from past lectures, she's woven together a Goldilocks (not to long, not to short) length author memoir. If it were a full-length book, her jabs at wannabe authors would have have definitely grown irksome. Yet limited to 30 or so pages, she comes off merely as amusingly elitist -- a pretty impressive accomplishment when part of it is devoted to her stint as a waitress at a Nashville fern bar.

That's why I say she may have created a new genre: An extended essay, packaged in an hour-long-read ebook format, providing a length and approach that can allow authors to let off some steam about how hard it is to be them, without requiring them to pad out a book-length manuscript trying to prove it.

At this length, Patchett's humor is tight and her drifting into self-reverence is only limited.

Don't expect a lot of encouragement if you're a writer, however. Despite her obvious wit, there's no joy when she turns the topic to her own writing. Have I mentioned how hard being a novelist is?
Comment 15 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I thought I was selecting a Pratchett book and though annoyed at my mistake (amazon 1-click is sooooo seductive), I started reading. I was grabbed in the first paragraph. Like many bookworms, I've flirted with the notion of writing a story myself and Ann's description of how she has done and continues to do this difficult thing is fascinating. I would have read it through in one session, but my house guests started whining about my inattention to their supper...
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is every class you ever need to take in writing, rolled into a quick, funny, frank read. Ann Patchett, a geniusy author, admits that she "can't teach you how to have something to say". But she'll teach you practically everything else she's learned in her years at the keyboard. Only a confident writer can be so generous. I wish I'd read this book when I was 29! I wish it'd been around when I was 19. Actually, I wish I'd had it when I was 9, and writing terrible poems in birthday cards. It would have made them so much better. I'm sending it to every budding writer I know.
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I loved this book! I have never read any of Ann Patchett's novels, but I have really enjoyed her personal essays and journalism in The Atlantic and other magazines. This personal narrative is akin to that. For an aspiring writer like myself who has not gotten an MFA program I found this to be an invaluable personal account of how one becomes a writer and how writing good work feels. Patchett ascribes her success to the luck of having good teachers, but what I notice is that Patchett was able to learn from some teachers who were not "good" in the conventional sense. Also, she acknowledges at the outset that she was lucky in one clear way: that she always knew that she wanted to be a writer and she has remained true to that conviction throughout her life. That is lucky indeed.
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I loved The Getaway Car! I'm not a writer but I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett. It was a delight to get an inside glimpse of how she works and read a little about her life. The piece is beautifully written and I loved her description of getting her ideas from her head to the paper. It was heartening that even Ann Patchett, who is so brilliant at what she does, has to put in long hours and sometimes her craft doesn't come easily. There is no replacement for hard work. That is an important lesson no matter what your profession.

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life (Kindle Single)
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