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Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher Paperback – Bargain Price, July 27, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Best known as the author of the esteemed guide On Writing Well, Zinsser devotes his new book to recollections of his charmed life as a writer and teacher. He reflects on his years with the Herald Tribune, as a freelance writer living with his family in the Hamptons, and teaching at Yale University. Famous for prescribing clear, uncluttered writing, Zinsser practices what he preaches, and his reading is similarly limpid. Looking back at his personal and professional achievements, Zinsser cannot mask his self-satisfaction—but rather than coming across as narcissistic, his pride proves markedly charming. A Collins hardcover (Reviews, June 15). (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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[Audio Review] Best known as the author of the esteemed guide On Writing Well, Zinsser devotes his new book to recollections of his charmed life as a writer and teacher. He reflects on his years with the Herald Tribune, as a freelance writer living with his family in the Hamptons, and teaching at Yale University. Famous for prescribing clear, uncluttered writing, Zinsser practices what he preaches, and his reading is similarly limpid. Looking back at his personal and professional achievements, Zinsser cannot mask his self-satisfaction but rather than coming across as narcissistic, his pride proves markedly charming. A Collins hardcover (Reviews, June 15). (Aug.) --Publisher's Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061729035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061729034
  • ASIN: B005IV06HI
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,197,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Wung VINE VOICE on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
William Zinsser gained acclaim as the teacher of non-fiction writing, most notably memoir writing. He is also the teacher of many aspiring writers through his classic tome: On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

I am a thankful recipient of Mr. Zinsser's wisdom and wit. I'd read "On Writing Well" forwards and backwards. I am working on reading it sideways now.

His lessons on clear and simple writing is exemplified in this, his memoir. The stories herein are clear, concise, words are used tactically but sparingly. He is able to say what he wants to say and tell the stories he wants to tell in the same manner that he has told millions of readers.

It is an interesting yet spare telling of his life. He covers all the different kinds of writing jobs that he has had and he gets to the point about what he likes and dislikes about each of the jobs. The anecdotes are interesting and yet still serve to make his point and move the narrative along.

It is astonishing just how many writing jobs can be had by one man, moving from being a journalist, teacher, editor, reviewer, free lance writer, humorist, and conscience. The book is short and its tone is informative - as he had encouraged his readers to be; never pedantic - as he strove to never to be; and informative, as his books always are.

The story of how he came to write his most famous book is enlightening and evokes great respect and gratitude from this reader. The section on his Yale years brings the readers to a place where few tread. And his reminiscence of the newspaper trade in the heyday of newspapers makes on wish to return to that particular era.

It was, a lovely read, an entertaining read, and most importantly, a well written read.
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Format: Hardcover
For me, there is no better teacher on how to write well than William Zinsser. All of his books, whether they are specific books on how to write, about the writing life (like this one), or other topics, are mini-courses on how to write. One can take virtually any sentence in this book and see how Zinsser applies the lessons he teaches in his classic On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. And, of course, his writing skills result in books that are engaging, memorable and bring the reader to reflect on not only Zinsser's subjects but on the reader's own life.

In Writing Places, Zinsser takes us through his personal journey as a writer, from his beginnings at the New York Herald, his stint as a master at Yale, the genesis and development of On Writing Well, and his challenges as a freelancer. We are the beneficiaries of Zinsser's decision to not follow the path that his father expected him to take into the family business. Instead, Zinsser chose to follow his passion to be a journalist and to write. Who knows how many millions of lives Zinsser has affected through his works? I, for one, am grateful that he chose this alternate path.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is quite simply a terrific book. If I have a complaint, it's the usual one regarding William Zinsser's work. I wished there were more. But if it had been longer, it wouldn't have been genuine Zinsser. One of his prime rules is to 'reduce clutter.' If Zinsser is hard on his students about editing out extraneous stuff, he's obviously twice as hard on himself. Because Writing Places, like his other books about writing and his life, has been mercilessly edited and honed to absolute shining perfection. I despair at ever coming close to this kind of writing myself. And I am an adherent to Zinsser's work too. I first read his classic tome, On Writing Well, about five years ago and just loved it. But as a follower I'm probably kind of a failure. I think it all matters, so ...

I've also read his book, Writing About Your Life, which didn't have nearly enough about his own life (just my opinion, of course), so I was very excited to hear he'd finally written an actual memoir. Writing Places was a pleasure to read, but, as I've already said, I wished for more, particularly about his childhood and youth and his WWII service. Something like Andy Rooney did in MY WAR, or Sam Hynes in his two excellent memoirs, The Growing Seasons and Flights of Passage. If Zinsser ever decides to do this, I'd predict an instant bestseller, because there just aren't many more WWII memoirs that will still be written. The reading public is still hungry for such accounts though; witness the recent success in England of RAF pilot Geoffrey Wellum's book, First Light - a wonderful account of flying and the Battle of Britain.

What the hell though. I do so appreciate everything Zinsser has already shared with us. And what he's tried to teach us about good writing.
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Format: Hardcover
I love to read about writers writing. These writers give you more than than words about writing, they share glimpses of the great stories of their own lives.
PS I'll read anything Zinsser writes. He never lets you down.
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Writing Places is a very entertaining read. But as with all of Mr. Zinsser's books,
it reminds you that writing must also be helpful. The book addresses all kinds of helpful ideas. Such as self-evolution. That one's work ( his classic "On Writing Well" in this case) may need re-evaluation and revision over the course of time. His journey describes the complexity of the art of teaching the craft of writing. I didn't think such a thing could be articulated, but he does it. He is William Zinsser after all. He covers helpful ideas including journalistic ethics, history, family, and learning how to learn. Within the notion of helpful writing lies Zinsser's characteristic generosity of spirit. Helping is giving. If you are a writer, give yourself the collection of all of this writer's books. At the very least keep William Zinsser book titles on a list, and give them as gifts to the accomplished and would-be writers in your life.
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