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Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel Paperback – Import, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Plagued by a sense of despair while writing her last novel, Good Faith, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Smiley (A Thousand Acres, etc.) decided to return to the enterprise that got her started as a writer: reading. The result is a book that sets out to investigate the novel itself. Smiley does not offer a radically new way of seeing the novel. Instead, her study is methodical and cumulative, producing a wonderful text, opinionated but not argumentative, instructive but not heavily theoretical text. The book is roughly divided into three sections: the first classifies the novel, beginning with the most simple of definitions (e.g., it's long, in prose, has a protagonist), and adds moral and aesthetic complexity as it moves along. The second section consists of a primer for fledgling novelists. Here Smiley's years as a writing instructor show; her attitude toward all potential novelists is open-minded and generous, acknowledging the difficulty of the project while providing encouragement to continue. Finally, the book turns to the hundred novels she chose to read, from The Tale of Genji and Don Quixote to White Teeth and Atonement, devoting a few pages to a consideration of each. The result is a thorough reflection on the art and craft of the novel from one of its best-known contemporary practitioners.50,000 first printing.(Sept. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Critical opinion varies greatly on the discourse offered by this Pulitzer Prize winner on the biography and art of the novel. While some critics applaud her convictions on what makes a novel and a novelist, others feel she needs to exit the classroom and enter the minds of the mainstream reader. As the author of 11 novels who turned her attention to devouring books when she lost inspiration while writing Good Faith (**** July/Aug 2003) during 9/11, she has certainly done her homework. Perhaps the best way to bridge the disparity among reviewers is to say that at the very least, Smiley will enlighten, offer advice, and further the average readers novelistic sensibilities, but she may also alienate the uninitiated fiction lover who reads mainly for pleasure.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.