From Publishers Weekly
Zinsser, author of a classic guide for nonfiction authors, On Writing Well,
looks back on his own years of professional writing, glossing selections from his past articles with advice for would-be memoirists. He begins with impressionistic sketches of his WWII experiences as a young army private in North Africa and Italy. Next he details his 13-year career at the New York Herald Tribune
, where he wrote drama and movie features. He draws humorously and self-effacingly on his impromptu role as an extra for Woody Allen in Stardust Memories.
With quietly witty insights into academic life, Zinsser charts years spent teaching at Yale while writing freelance for magazines such as Look.
An account of his service as an editor at the Book-of-the-Month Club includes a history of that venerable institution. Finally Zinsser brings us up-to-date with his recent rebirth as a public pianist. To follow one's heart is Zinsser's most enduring piece of advice. In writing he recommends dwelling on "small, self-contained incidents" and making use of anecdotes and vivid memories. When discussing capturing places in print, he comments usefully on the changing trends of the travel genre (increased political correctness). Zinsser is warmly appreciative of other well-known memoirists and their organizational methods, admiring in particular Thoreau, Frank McCourt, Mary Karr and Annie Dillard. While his frank, affirmative and encouraging style will help anyone embarking on writing their own life story, his book will be especially useful to those of his own generation.
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This book, full of charm and ingenuity, cannot fail to delight and instruct the would-be writer of personal narrative. -- Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story
This is a book of pure pleasure.... The reader goes right inside the writing process. -- Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones
William Zinsser weaves his teaching narrative and his life in a wonderful way. You learn without knowing it. -- Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis
[William Zinsser's] deceptively simple style at first conceals but ultimately reveals a master craftsman...in the midst of his journey. -- Thomas Fleming, novelist and historian