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The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing Hardcover – January 26, 2016
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"Just when you think Clark, who has written some of the best books on the writer's craft, has covered everything related to the subject, he digs deep into literature and excavates a gold mine of artistic strategies for great writing....With lively, colorful writing and inspired practical advice, this guide earns a spot along with Clark's Writing Tools as essential reading for writers. Recommended for book lovers as well."―Kirkus (Starred Review)
"This book sits on the (well-oiled) hinge between close reading and manual. Roy Peter Clark, who knows a thing or two about the writer's trade, digs into passages of successful writing from King Lear to the Goon Squad in order to unearth such writerly tools as foreshadowing, wordplay, shock value, repetition, rhetorical tropes, soliloquy and many more. It's a delightful read and an illuminating method for beginner or pro."―Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction and Losing Tim
"Any honest writer will tell you this: It's not tricks that make you better at crafting prose. It's reading. Lots of reading. Close reading. X-ray reading. Roy Peter Clark decodes brilliant passages so that we can not so much emulate them, but make our own magic."―-Constance Hale, author of Sin and Syntax and Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch
"This enjoyable book is perfect for students, writers, and anyone who wants to learn more about great literature."―Library Journal (starred review)
"This is an infectiously enthusiastic guide to becoming an active reader, an homage to the wealth of meaning in great literature, and a striking demonstration of how that meaning can be transmitted from author to reader across centuries and oceans."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Roy Peter Clark is senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious schools for journalists in the world. He has taught writing at every level--to schoolchildren and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors--for more than thirty years. A writer who teaches and a teacher who writes, he has authored or edited seventeen books on writing and journalism, including How to Write Short, Writing Tools, The Glamour of Grammar, and Help! for Writers. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
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to tell, and so I get told. Being told doesn't allow me company and because there is enough disconnection in this world already, I just remain unmoved but with new information.
Roy Peter Clark seemed to join my eyes as I read over every word. He was there with me, and I was there with him and we were sharing the same thoughts that are written. Occasionally I'd get a little jolt and realize it was only Roy sharing his thoughts but it was never long before I'd be found back in the comfort of the oneness again. His style of communication left me feeling like a writer, not because I just read a book on it, but because I just EXPERIENCED being a writer.
This is an internal journey, that's why when closing the book the feeling of having just experienced something was always there.
You and the author will go inside some famous books and you'll know you are entering another world as soon as a certain first sentence becomes a door handle.
This EXPERIENCE alone is worth considering to purchase. It's rare and you cannot return as the same person once you turn a few pages.
This is what I found anyway. I'm no longer someone who thinks about myself as a writer one day, and I don't care about the fact that I have had nothing published yet, I am a writer now.
I am a writer now because I read this book and this book gave me the qualified experience.
The fuel that this experience has put in my tank can do nothing less than set off a chain reaction.
Forget a ticket to Bali - there is much more to gain for far less the cost by opening the covers of this book and diving in.
Each chapter focuses on a specific work and at the end of each chapter is a writing lesson. These lessons are the key elements that the reader should take away from that chapter. At the end of the book is a section called “Great Sentences From Famous Authors” and this is a chance to practice your new x-ray reading skills. Following this exercise are the “Twelve Steps to Get Started As An X-Ray Reader” which is a good reference to help new x-ray readers begin reading on a whole new level.
Out of the 25 works mentioned in this book, I’ve only read about half of them. Now that I have a new pair of x-ray reading glasses on, I want to reread these (as well as some of the others) with fresh eyes. I love The Great Gatsby, but wow, did I miss a lot! I missed the themes and symbolism, especially. I’m a Charles Dickens fan and I read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, but somehow I missed her parallel to A Christmas Carol. How in the world did I miss that? (I knew the concept of intertextuality, but I didn’t know that’s what it was called.) I love it when I notice it in literature, but I’m sure there are many times when it slips by me unnoticed.
One of the most eye-opening experiences was the chapter about Hemingway. Although I never read A Farewell to Arms, I did read The Sun Also Rises. I was very disappointed in it, so I gave it a low two-star rating. I noticed it received a lot of high ratings and I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t fond of his terse prose and Hemingway fans are always saying that if you don’t like Hemingway, then you don’t understand him. I thought they were just being pretentious snobs, but after reading The Art of X-Ray Reading, I realize that I truly didn’t understand Hemingway. I missed his rhythm and his intentional repetition and omission of words. I was too busy reading on the level of the story that I wasn’t reading it on the level of the text.
This is one of those books that you’ll not only want to add to your home library, especially aspiring writers, but also a book that you’ll want to read more than once. I checked this book out at my local library, but I already know that I’ll be buying it, rereading it and write in it. I want to absorb everything Roy Peter Clark teaches in this book (and his other books) and internalize it completely. I highly recommend this book to avid readers and aspiring writers.