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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Crafted Collection of Essays on Writing
The New York Times weekly column, "Writers on Writing," discusses various aspects of the writing life from the perspective of today's best well-known authors. Jane Smiley collects forty-six of the essays and says, "Read it like eavesdropping or like twisting the knob on an old radio and tuning in stations from far and wide." These brief essays have a confessional feel...
Published on February 16, 2005 by Bohdan Kot

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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth The Time.
"Muse" is right. Muse is all they do in this book. And the musing isnt interesting or helpful. What it reminds me of is a group hug with strangers. As in...what's the point?
Published on November 8, 2005 by James B. Johnson


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Crafted Collection of Essays on Writing, February 16, 2005
By 
Bohdan Kot (Washington, D.C.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writers on Writing, Volume II: More Collected Essays from The New York Times (Writers on Writing (Times Books Hardcover)) (Hardcover)
The New York Times weekly column, "Writers on Writing," discusses various aspects of the writing life from the perspective of today's best well-known authors. Jane Smiley collects forty-six of the essays and says, "Read it like eavesdropping or like twisting the knob on an old radio and tuning in stations from far and wide." These brief essays have a confessional feel to them, often declaring writing to be difficult, yet also a worthy task for the truly committed.

Numerous passages detail the obstacles confronted when courting the muse and also offer advice on how to write well. The most entertaining and direct approach stems from crime fiction writer Elmore Leonard and his ten rules to "remain invisible" when writing. He sums them up with the maxim, "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite." There are numerous pitfalls that hamper the writing process - the most common is doing everything under the sun but write.

Ann Patchett, author of the critically acclaimed novel "Bel Canto," hilariously explains her battles with procrastination. "I have already restored my oven to the level of showroom-floor cleanliness, written a small hill of thank-you notes (some of them completely indiscriminate: `Thank you for sending me the list of typographical errors you found in my last novel'), walked the dog to the point of the dog's collapse. I've read most of the books I've been meaning to read since high school."

What this collection does best is humanize our published idols; the most notable demystification being Arthur Miller's piece on relating his early years of being a struggling writer. Miller may have written the classic play, "Death of a Salesman," but how many knew his first play was a flop and he "resolved never to write another play." The honest feel coupled with an inviting tone make Miller's essay a standout.

However, the entire collection is compulsory reading for any aspiring writers. The piece by Alan Cheuse is a godsend for any late-blooming writer or for those skeptical to pursue a dream as middle-age approaches. Overall, "Writers on Writing" is a delight that will leave you feeling refreshed with pithy insights about the writing world.

Bohdan Kot
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun to read, May 27, 2007
A great sampling of writers whose columns were included in the NY Times arts section. Some of the essays are better than others, but is that a surprise? As a writer, I found it interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great source of information & entertainment!, August 8, 2012
Short blurbs, anecdotes, lessons, and stories about writing from the literary likes of Frank Conroy, Arthur Miller, Donald Westlake, David Mamet, Ann Beattie, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Fry, Ann Patchett, Amy Tan, P.J. O'Rourke, and about 35 others.

If you like reading, this book is filled with many a gem. My favorite was Donald Westlake discussing his somewhat complicated relationship Richard Stark, the pseudonym under which he wrote his "Parker" series of novels. Interesting, intriguing, funny, and thought-provoking.

Having read this, I'll be going to my local public library and looking for Volume 1, as well as the Paris Review Interviews.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting writing insight, July 8, 2014
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Great insights on writing from some well-known and respected writers. The articles are short, but thought provoking. It is a treat to read these, since I don't get the magazine!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provocative essay book by known authors, May 18, 2013
This book consists of 41 essays by writers that range from Margaret Atwood, Frank Conroy, Elmore Leonard, Andrew Greeley, P. J. O'Rourke, Ann Patchett, Arthur Miller, Donald Westlake, and Amy Tan. If you are looking for a writing instruction book, this book is not for you. All of the essays are approximately six pages long. The authors write about whatever their heart fancies. These subjects range from the Selectric typewriter, to childhood memories, to writers block, to music, to current events and their impact on writing and literature today. You name it - it's there. Most of the essays are very interesting, too. A few are not all that interesting. This book gives ideas and motivation, and you don't even realize it until you find yourself thinking about the writer and how they write, and wow, could I do that? Nah.

Cam
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where Else Can You Get Such Insights into Writing?, June 30, 2011
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This companion piece to the first volume of essays previously published in "The New York Times" features another 46 essays by successful writers like Diane Ackerman, Margaret Atwood, Ann Beattie, Geraldine Brooks, Andrew Greeley, William Kennedy, Elmore Leonard Arthur Miller, P. J. O'Rourke, Jay Parini, and Anna Quindlen. The brief articles are highly readable, occasionally instructive, and consistently engaging. My favorite essay of either collection: Edmund White's reflection on music and writing.
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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth The Time., November 8, 2005
By 
James B. Johnson (HUDSON, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Writers on Writing, Volume II: More Collected Essays from The New York Times (Writers on Writing (Times Books Hardcover)) (Hardcover)
"Muse" is right. Muse is all they do in this book. And the musing isnt interesting or helpful. What it reminds me of is a group hug with strangers. As in...what's the point?
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