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Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life Paperback – April 8, 1994
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From Kirkus Reviews
Inspirational essays on writing--by a novelist aborning whose piece ``Envy, the Writer's Disease'' made the cover of The New York Times Book Review and led to this book. Friedman sets out to uplift the writing reader and fellow novelist-to-be by opening her veins about the hardships of writing. More often, however, she opens her mind and gives the reader interesting snippets of Freud, Krishnamurti, Jung, and other wizards of the id. Most of her references are to women writers, with Mary Shelley getting the longest play in one of the best and most original passages here, in which the main problem of Dr. Frankenstein, the monster's ``author,'' is that he must ignore his family to get his work done. Friedman finds this problem common to authors who think they must write about their families but who must ignore the family's sensibilities in order to do so. She had that problem herself, she tells us, with her neurotically overweight sister. Friedman also talks about beginner's envy of famous writers, pointing out even Shakespeare's envy (``Desiring this man's scope, and that man's art'') and cries, ``Shakespeare desired another's art? Dear Lord, whose?'' Even so, this piece, the book's opening, is its most tedious stretch. The author is far livelier on schools for writers, writer's block, her first nonfiction sale (at age 34), and the landing of the contract for this book--at which moments the agony and the ecstasy are personal indeed and less abstract than Friedman's perfectly worked out similes and deep thoughts about the writer's mind. Not exciting as literary flower-picking, and only middling on the psychology of authors. Friedman's first novel should bring a brighter bloom. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A wonderful book, profoundly honest, intelligent, and beautifully written... Each of the eight essays in the collection addresses a specific theme, ranging from the pitfalls of envy to the paralysis of success. The depth of Friedman's inquiry is factual as well as personal... Humor abounds in this bold and generous book... We cannot read this collection and come away unmoved." - Harvard Review
"The caliber of Friedman's craft itself is instructive and invigorating -- better than even Annie Dillard's in The Writing Life." -- The Columbus Dispatch
"[A] slim, excellent book on the emotional aspects of the writer's vocation . . . intimate, honest, liberating." - The Forward
"If you think writing is a lonely task and you can afford one book, buy this one." - Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Addison Wesley)
"[I]lluminates with clarity and inventiveness what it actually feels like to devote one's time and purpose to the . . . art of writing. One of the striking differences between this book and others on the subject is Friedman's aboveboard approach. All of her doors stay open; she is immediately and always intimate. . . Friedman's enlightenments are delightful to read . . . [She] extends a warm hand and some welcome encouragement." -- The Georgia Review
Top customer reviews
The rest of the book may have a few useful insights if you're patient enough to weed them out of the author's self-absorbed prattling. Mostly, I think she wanted to impress us all with her ability to weave stories of her life into pseudo-parables. It's overblown and tries very hard to be philosophical without ever committing to any kind of practical advice on how to deal with problems that tend to plague us as writers.