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The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing Hardcover – June 1, 2004
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Yagoda begins his penetrating, historically based inquiry into the allure of literature with a deceptively simple premise: "Style matters." But what exactly do we mean by style? And how does style relate to voice? Yagoda, the notably lucid author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made (2000), establishes two stylistic poles: the "transparent" prose advocated by Strunk and White's Elements of Style and style as self-expression and the embodiment of a moral viewpoint. Seeking understanding of a "middle style" that combines the best of both, Yagoda--splendidly well read, inquisitive, and perceptive--spoke with 40 diverse writers about style and voice, and excerpts from his interviews with the likes of Harold Bloom, Toni Morrison, Elmore Leonard, Gish Jen, Dave Barry, Ann Beattie, and Billy Collins enliven his cogent running commentary with revelations of everything from whether writers use pens or computers to how a writer strikes a balance between spoken and written language. In sum, Yagoda has forged a sophisticated and scintillating writer's resource in sync with today's thriving MFA writing programs. Donna Seaman
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“...the right mix of seriousness and wit, anecdote and insight.” (Billy Collins)
“...offers not only the author’s amazingly informative narrative, but points us toward...the trial and error inherent in creativity.” (Ann Beattie)
“[Ben Yagoda] is witty and offhandedly erudite and unafraid to read between the lines...” (Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and Secret Parts of Fortune)
“This is an ingenious and memorable exploration of writing’s soul...” (Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo)
“Ben Yagoda [is] the best kind of close reader, attentive to writerly choices that most of us take for granted.” (Wall Street Journal)
“A shrewd, welcome meditation on literary style… that rarest of tomes: a splendidly written book about writing.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“This entertaining and instructive book should be part of any writing collection.” (Library Journal)
“A stylish exploration of developing a distinctive voice and writing style.” (Chicago Tribune)
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Yagoda's book was the first step toward realizing the mechanics of what makes writer's voice, allowing me to formulate a process to help writers find their own.
Well written, witty, intelligent, practical.