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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 29, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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. Pull off more pages until you've narrowed the field to the one you like best.

And what not to do. "I am diligent in my avoidance of all talismans, rituals, and superstitions." Patchett writes about becoming a "crazy person" with a computer solitaire problem. She'd tell herself her writing day could not begin until she had won a game. That behavior escalated. Soon she had to win a game every time she left her desk and came back again. After she had it removed from her computer she continued to miss it every day for two years. Habits, avoid them.

In addition to things practical about writing, Patchett can dispense wisdom. Writing she says can be taught, but no one can teach another person how to have something to say. And that's what separates one writer from another. Patchett definitely has something to say and that's what makes "The Getaway Car" a separate and enticing read.

(It enticed me enough to download "Bel Canto" immediately. I figure it's time for me to listen to all those people who have been telling me to read the novel even though I protested that I know nothing about opera. Before writing "Bel Canto" neither did Patchett, they tell me.)
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2011
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I couldn't put this down--I've loved everything I've ever read by Ann Patchett, and this was no exception. Its insight into a writer's life and process is profound. The writing is lovely and her experiences are ones that any serious writer can relate to. I can't recommend this more highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As a fledgling writer, I am attracted to memoirs by writers talking about writing. This one did not disappoint. Patchett chronicles a part of her life leading up to the creation of "Patron Saint of Liars", her first novel. It captured my interest to the point where my next read was that book, and I will probably work my way through all of her published works eventually. Once you find a style you enjoy, it's hard to let go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is a fast read - a writing memoir much more than a writing how-to. As a result, it's naturally narrowed to the perspective and experiences of the author, not all of which will be relatable to most authors (winning a fellowship, gaining and keeping an agent from the beginning of her career on, etc.) But it's still stuffed with great advice. Patchett's thoughts on writing every day, avoiding writer's block, and pondering ideas before writing them down are worth the read even if you get nothing else out of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I must admit that I was unaware of Ann Patchett's books until I ran into The Getaway Car. I started writing months ago after desiring to do so for many years. I like the Kindles Singles genre for books like this one. Although it isn't a How To book, it provides a lot of insight on writing for a living. I am a huge admirer of her technique and style of writing, which motivates me to read her other books. Excellent work!!
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