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The Writer's Desk Hardcover – December 9, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 110 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (December 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679450149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679450146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A dangerous book--deadly to keep on your desk as Jill Krementz's compelling photos of authors at work will lure you back again and again, leaving your own writing untended. This volume cost me two or three good pages as I peeked in on Eudora Welty and read about her anticipated six o'clock bourbon, glanced at books on Tennessee Williams's shelves and wondered if Veronica Chambers ever gets a stiff neck from writing on her laptop like that. The Writer's Desk is a perfect gift for readers, yes, but if you're a writer, well, you've been warned.

From School Library Journal

YA. Students of creative writing will find validation in this peek at the work spaces of famous writers and the spare but telling comments about their writing regimes. Writers of fiction and nonfiction, living and dead, mainly from the U.S. and Europe, form an eclectic mix. Some are familiar contemporary figures such a Amy Tan, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oates; others are from an older generation and include Archibald MacLeish, Dorothy West, and Ralph Ellison. Krementz has captured the 57 writers at work in evocative black-and-white photos. Each entry includes a short text by the subject describing how he or she creates or created. These routines are enlightening in their rich variety. Some writers follow strict schedules and allow no interruptions; others have no plan, often seemingly wasting time until the creative urge takes over. Every manner of dress (from pajamas to jacket and tie), position (from sitting on top of a desk to reclining with a lap-top in bed), and environment (from a cluttered office to the rustic cabin) is described. Readers' curiosity may well be piqued by these insightful tidbits and result in further research on an unfamiliar author. An introduction by John Updike includes an interesting description of how he uses his three desks as well as an unnecessary elaboration of the book's contents.?Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Every writer looks around his workplace sometimes and wonders what other writers' desks look like. It's almost a prurient interest. Krementz, who is married to Kurt Vonnegut and is a leading photojournalist, has photographed more than 1,500 writers at work in the past thirty years. This splendid slender book brings together photos of fifty-three authors in their habitats, from Pablo Neruda and Archibald MacLeish to Stephen King and Edwidge Dandicat. Each photo is accompanied by each author's thoughts on desks, typewriters, and writing methods and times of day. This is the sort of book you'll pick up over and over again, examining the clutter on James Merrill's desk, or wondering if you should try writing in bed, like Walker Percy or Cathleen Schine. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fuat C. Baran on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book of black and white photos of writers in their habitats, some spartan, some cluttered. Accompanying each picture is a short blurb by the featured author. I only wish this book were longer and included more of my favorite authors.
John Updike's introduction is a must-read. He points out details that perhaps one might miss at first glance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on January 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that I am attached to my copy of The Writer's Desk. It may not leave the house. Get your own!
That said, I have to profess some mystery as to the depth of my own feeling or why someone should purposely purchase this for themselves. It is a small scale coffee table book for English majors, a nice gift for the contemporary lit minded or a gem to pluck off a sale table for oneself. Krementz's black and white photographs speak of her talent though I'm not sure I learn that much from them. They are more like illustrations for text that is all but missing, except for brief author quotes, or like roped off rooms in a writer's house turned local museum. But that's the problem we have with any creative artist--we can collect and assemble the physical life molecule by molecule (anyone here read Flaubert's Parrot?) and we will never quite understand how those great sentences get shaped the way they do.
At least we can marvel at the conditions under which those sentences get down, how each writer exerts order and control in a corner of their lives, to get their work done.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on August 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Writing is an act of love from the many authors who have devoted their lives to telling us their stories. Now, for the first time we are given a glimpse of the varied environments in which they work through the lens of Jill Krementz. This wonderful photographer unfolds before our eyes the work habitats of some of our most noted authors. You will be delighted and pleasantly surprised on seeing them at work.
Some of the writers come to work dressed as blue collar workers ready to sweat and give their full attention to the task at hand. Others bring their pets who provide inspiration and sharp criticism of their owners' efforts. What is most amusing is peering into a writer's workspace and seeing it filled with junk. How can they possibly write in all of that disarray? Only heaven knows.
Krementz's pictures captures the essence of a writer's work in their faces, space, and devotion to detail. The places and spaces in which they work are diverse but through that diversity art is created. After each photo, the writer gives his or her philosophy about how they work and why they work. The details they give are not long. The pictures tell the story rather than the sparse text.
The Writer's Desk is an excellent book for an aspiring writer or for one who wants to see their favorite author in a different way beyond the written word. The book doesn't pretend to be a biographical work about the writers and moves beyond being a mere picture book. Through the eye of Krenentz's lens you will see, experience and appreciate the craft of writing in a different way.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel.Reaver@BWC.STATE.OH.US on June 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Yes, indeed, it is enthralling to see such writers at work or just sitting around getting ready to work or just sitting around but for the hefty price tag, the small number included here can only be considered stingy at best. Unfortunately, the text often adds little, if any, relevant commentary on the picture at hand. It is interesting though to see the domestic surroundings of so many famous people and I suppose that the voyeur in us receives some satisfaction. The photography itself is well done and captures the look of the writers as we've come to know them through other photos. Since there are only 58 subjects out of a possible 1500 that the author has taken, I was able to read the whole book and look at the photos in sixteen minutes. Before you buy, check it out in a library first to make sure you want to spend you hard earned money on such a minuscule offering.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maria on September 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The main purpose of this book is to show the working environments of writers and to describe their work habits, but it is also a treat for typewriter collectors. As an amateur collector, I enjoyed trying to guess the makes of typewriters being used. It was especially interesting seeing how some writers continue to use manual typewriters, even in the 1990s.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A mesmerizing book that provides a glimpse into the creative world of writers. I return to look at the book often hoping to gain some insight into and about writer's and their art. The book succeeds in wetting the apetite and creates even more mystery. Surely, there must be some common thread amongst writer's and surely that thread must be visible in the photographs in the book if only we look hard enough. A very intimate book, by design and a very private book to own and possess. One of the very few books that I continue to look and to seek inspiration.
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