How Fiction Works


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1446414485
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 208
View: 8833

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In the tradition of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel, How Fiction Works is a scintillating and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterization, dialogue, realism, and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time takes the machinery of story-telling apart to ask a series of fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we 'know' a fictional character? What constitutes a 'telling' detail? When is a metaphor successful? Is realism realistic? Why do most endings of novels disappoint? Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Beatrix Potter, from the Bible to John Le Carré, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it incisively sums up two decades of bold, often controversial, and now classic critical work, and will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone interested in what happens on the page.

How Fiction Works


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780374173401
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 265
View: 657

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A book-length essay by the forefront literary critic takes readers on a philosophical tour of the art of the novel, in a wide-ranging piece that explores such topics as the definition of style, the connection between realism and real life, and the qualities that make a story. By the author of The Irresponsible Self.

How Fiction Works


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9781429908658
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 288
View: 4428

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What makes a story a story? What is style? What's the connection between realism and real life? These are some of the questions James Wood answers in How Fiction Works, the first book-length essay by the preeminent critic of his generation. Ranging widely—from Homer to David Foster Wallace, from What Maisie Knew to Make Way for Ducklings—Wood takes the reader through the basic elements of the art, step by step. The result is nothing less than a philosophy of the novel—plainspoken, funny, blunt—in the traditions of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. It sums up two decades of insight with wit and concision. It will change the way you read.

How Fiction Works


Author: Oakley Hall
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 9781582972930
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 228
View: 8648

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Think of your fiction like a clock, a marvel of mainsprings and wheels, pinions and pendulums. It's an extraordinary organization of diverse elements, channeling energy and tension into the regular coordination of action and reaction, rotating gears and moving hands. &break;&break;Oakley Hall, writing teacher emeritus, invites you as his apprentice to study fiction's inner workings, the pegs and screws upon which a good story depends. You'll find the elements of fiction examined and illuminated, with insights into how they must interact to create a distinctive story. &break;&break;In sharing lessons taught by years of experience and by citing examples from dozens of esteemed writers, Hall makes working alongside a master thoroughly pleasurable, as well as an invaluable opportunity to craft fiction that is tuned like a precision timepiece.

How Novels Work


Author: John Mullan
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191622923
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 368
View: 2323

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Never has contemporary fiction been more widely discussed and passionately analysed; recent years have seen a huge growth in the number of reading groups and in the interest of a non-academic readership in the discussion of how novels work. Drawing on his weekly Guardian column, 'Elements of Fiction', John Mullan examines novels mostly of the last ten years, many of which have become firm favourites with reading groups. He reveals the rich resources of novelistic technique, setting recent fiction alongside classics of the past. Nick Hornby's adoption of a female narrator is compared to Daniel Defoe's; Ian McEwan's use of weather is set against Austen's and Hardy's; Carole Shield's chapter divisions are likened to Fanny Burney's. Each section shows how some basic element of fiction is used. Some topics (like plot, dialogue, or location) will appear familiar to most novel readers; others (metanarrative, prolepsis, amplification) will open readers' eyes to new ways of understanding and appreciating the writer's craft. How Novels Work explains how the pleasures of novel reading often come from the formal ingenuity of the novelist. It is an entertaining and stimulating exploration of that ingenuity. Addressed to anyone who is interested in the close reading of fiction, it makes visible techniques and effects we are often only half-aware of as we read. It shows that literary criticism is something that all fiction enthusiasts can do. Contemporary novels discussed include: Monica Ali's Brick Lane; Martin Amis's Money; Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin; A.S. Byatt's Possession; Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club; J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace; Michael Cunningham's The Hours; Don DeLillo's Underworld; Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White; Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love; Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections; Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Patricia Highsmith's Ripley under Ground; Alan Hollinghurst's The Spell; Nick Hornby's How to Be Good; Ian McEwan's Atonement; John le Carré's The Constant Gardener; Andrea Levy's Small Island; David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas; Andrew O'Hagan's Personality; Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red; Ann Patchett's Bel Canto; Ruth Rendell's Adam and Eve and Pinch Me; Philip Roth's The Human Stain; Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated; Carol Shields's Unless; Zadie Smith's White Teeth; Muriel Spark's Aiding and Abetting; Graham Swift's Last Orders; Donna Tartt's The Secret History; William Trevor's The Hill Bachelors; and Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road .

The Nearest Thing to Life


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Brandeis University Press
ISBN: 161168742X
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 144
View: 3915

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In this remarkable blend of memoir and criticism, James Wood, noted contributor to the New Yorker, has written a master class on the connections between fiction and life. He argues that, of all the arts, fiction has a unique ability to describe the shape of our lives and to rescue the texture of those lives from death and historical oblivion. The act of reading is understood here as the most sacred and personal of activities, and there are brilliant discussions of individual works - among others, Chekhov's story "The Kiss," W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. Wood reveals his own intimate relationship with the written word: we see the development of a provincial boy growing up in a charged Christian environment, the secret joy of his childhood reading, the links he makes between reading and blasphemy, or between literature and music. The final section discusses fiction in the context of exile and homelessness. The Nearest Thing to LifeÊis not simply a brief, tightly argued book by a man commonly regarded as our finest living critic - it is also an exhilarating personal account that reflects on, and embodies, the fruitful conspiracy between reader and writer (and critic), and asks us to reconsider everything that is at stake when we read and write fiction.

The Book Against God


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1446414515
Category: Fiction
Page: 256
View: 4702

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Thomas Bunting, charming, chaotic, and deeply untruthful, is in despair. His marriage is disintegrating, and his academic career is in ruins: instead of completing his philosophy PhD, he is secretly writing what he hopes will be his masterwork, a vast atheistic project he has privately entitled 'The Book Against God'. But when his father is suddenly taken ill Thomas returns home, to the tiny village in the north of England where his father still works as a parish priest. Thomas hopes that he may finally be able to communicate honestly with his father, a brilliant and formidable Christian example, and sort out his wayward life. But Thomas is a chronic liar, as well as an atheist, and he finds, instead, that once at home he only falls back into the disastrous and evasive patterns of his childhood years.

Six Walks in the Fictional Woods


Author: Umberto Eco
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674503953
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 160
View: 4416

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In this exhilarating book, we accompany Umberto Eco as he explores the intricacies of fictional form and method. Using examples ranging from fairy tales and Flaubert, Poe and Mickey Spillane, Eco draws us in by means of a novelist's techniques, making us his collaborators in the creation of his text and in the investigation of some of fiction's most basic mechanisms.

Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction


Author: Catherine Brady
Publisher: Macmillan International Higher Education
ISBN: 1137037202
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 208
View: 1145

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This book illuminates how technique serves 'story logic,' the particular way fiction makes meaning. Writers raid the cupboard of theory looking for what works, and generic rules don't account for the rich variety of strategies they employ. For writers who are past the beginner stage, Brady offers a closer look at craft fundamentals, including plot, characterization, patterns of imagery, and style. The lively, lucid discussion draws on vivid examples from classic and contemporary fiction, ranging from George Eliot and William Faulkner to Haruki Murakami and Toni Morrison. Because it supplies the analytical tools needed to read as a writer, this text will enrich the reader's approach to any work of fiction, energizing discussion in a workshop or craft course.

Such Stuff as Dreams

The Psychology of Fiction
Author: Keith Oatley
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 1119973538
Category: Psychology
Page: 290
View: 1464

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Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction explores how fiction works in the brains and imagination of both readers and writers. Demonstrates how reading fiction can contribute to a greater understanding of, and the ability to change, ourselves Informed by the latest psychological research which focuses on, for example, how identification with fictional characters occurs, and how literature can improve social abilities Explores traditional aspects of fiction, including character, plot, setting, and theme, as well as a number of classic techniques, such as metaphor, metonymy, defamiliarization, and cues Includes extensive end-notes, which ground the work in psychological studies Features excerpts from fiction which are discussed throughout the text, including works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Anton Chekhov, James Baldwin, and others

Upstate


Author: James Wood
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1473553806
Category: Fiction
Page: 240
View: 6185

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Alan Querry, a successful property developer from the north of England, has two daughters: Vanessa, a philosopher who lives and teaches in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Helen, a record company executive based in London. The sisters never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother, with Vanessa particularly affected, and plagued by bouts of depression since her teenage years. When she suffers a new crisis, Alan and Helen travel to Saratoga Springs. Over the course of six wintry days in upstate New York, the Querry family begins to struggle with the questions that animate this profound and searching novel: Why do some people find living so much harder than others? Is happiness a skill that can be learned, or a lucky accident of birth? Is reflection helpful to happiness or an obstacle to it? If, as a favourite philosopher of Vanessa’s puts it, ‘the only serious enterprise is living’, how should we live? Rich in subtle human insight, full of poignant and often funny portraits, and vivid with a sense of place, Upstate is a perceptive, intensely moving novel.

The Broken Estate

Essays on Literature and Belief
Author: James Wood
Publisher: Modern Library
ISBN: 0804151903
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 304
View: 8406

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This book recalls an era when criticism could change the way we look at the world. In the tradition of Matthew Arnold and Edmund Wilson, James Wood reads literature expansively, always pursuing its role and destiny in our lives. In a series of essays about such figures as Melville, Flaubert, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, and Don DeLillo, Wood relates their fiction to questions of religious and philosophical belief. He suggests that the steady ebb of the sea of faith has much to do with the revo- lutionary power of the novel, as it has developed over the last two centuries. To read James Wood is to be shocked into both thinking and feeling how great our debt to the novel is. In the grand tradition of criticism, Wood's work is both commentary and literature in its own right--fiercely written, polemical, and richly poetic in style. This book marks the debut of a masterly literary voice.

What Is Fiction For?

Literary Humanism Restored
Author: Bernard Harrison
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 0253014123
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 622
View: 6770

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How can literature, which consists of nothing more than the description of imaginary events and situations, offer any insight into the workings of "human reality" or "the human condition"? Can mere words illuminate something that we call "reality"? Bernard Harrison answers these questions in this profoundly original work that seeks to re-enfranchise reality in the realms of art and discourse. In an ambitious account of the relationship between literature and cognition, he seeks to show how literary fiction, by deploying words against a background of imagined circumstances, allows us to focus on the roots, in social practice, of the meanings by which we represent our world and ourselves. Engaging with philosophers and theorists as diverse as Wittgenstein, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Derrida, F. R. Leavis, Cleanth Brooks, and Stanley Fish, and illustrating his ideas through readings of works by Swift, Woolf, Appelfeld, and Dickens, among others, this book presents a systematic defense of humanism in literary studies, and of the study of the Humanities more generally, by a distinguished scholar.

Aspects of the Novel


Author: E. M. Forster
Publisher: Rosetta Books
ISBN: 0795311567
Category: Literary Criticism
Page: 192
View: 3538

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The renowned British novelist’s “casual and wittily acute guidance” on reading—and writing—great fiction (Harper’s). Renowned for such classics as A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India, E. M. Forster was one of Britain’s—and the world’s—most distinguished fiction writers, a frequent nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In this collection of lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927, he takes a wide-ranging look at English-language novels—with specific examples from such masters as Dickens and Austen—discussing the elements they all have in common. Using a witty, informal tone and drawing as well on his extensive readings in French and Russian literature, Forster discusses his ideas in reference to such figures as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Proust; explains the difference between “flat” and “round” characters and between plot and story; and ultimately provides an “admirable and delightful” education for anyone who appreciates the art of a good book (The New York Times).

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet


Author: Reif Larsen
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0099555190
Category: Fiction
Page: 374
View: 1527

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T.S. Spivet is a genius mapmaker who lives on a ranch in Montana. His father is a silent cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last twenty years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle. His brother has gone, his sister seems normal but might not be, and his dog - Verywell - is going mad. T.S. makes sense of it all by drawing beautiful, meticulous maps kept in innumerable colour-coded notebooks.He is brilliant, and the Smithsonian Institution agrees, though when they award him a major scientific prize they don't suspect for a moment that he is twelve years old. So begins T.S.'s life-changing adventure, travelling two thousand miles across America to reach the awards dinner, the secret-society membership and the TV interviews that beckon. But is this what he wants? Do maps and lists explain the world? And why are adults so strange?

Fictions at Work

Language and Social Practice in Fiction
Author: Mary M. Talbot
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317896572
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 248
View: 2327

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In this book, Mary Talbot shows how fiction works in the constitution and reproduction of social life. She discusses both `high' and `low' fiction, combining discussion of social context with language analysis. Examples are taken from children's tales, romance, horror and science in her language analysis.

10:04


Author: Ben Lerner
Publisher: Emblem Editions
ISBN: 9780771047213
Category:
Page: 256
View: 4596

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Following the international buzz for his debut, Leaving the Atocha Station, comes 10:04, Ben Lerner's electric second novel that blends artistry and wit, intelligence and tenderness. A unique collision between art and life by an extraordinary young writer. For readers of Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Lethem, Sheila Heti. Leaving the Atocha Station was hailed as "one of the truest (and funniest) novels...of his generation" (Lorin Stein, New York Review of Books), "a work so luminously original in style and form as to seem like a premonition, a comet from the future" (Geoff Dyer, The Observer). Now Lerner's second novel departs from Atocha's exquisite ironies in order to explore new territories of thought and feeling. In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water. In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called "hilarious...cracklingly intelligent...and original in every sentence," Lerner captures what it's like to be alive now, when the difficulty of imagining a future has changed our relation to both our present and our past. Exploring sex, friendship, medicine, memory, art, and politics, 10:04 is both a riveting work of fiction and a brilliant examination of the role fiction plays in our lives.

Walk the Blue Fields

Stories
Author: Claire Keegan
Publisher: Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
ISBN: 0802189725
Category: Fiction
Page: 184
View: 757

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Claire Keegan’s brilliant debut collection, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, and earned her resounding accolades on both sides of the Atlantic. Now she has delivered her next, much-anticipated book, Walk the Blue Fields, an unforgettable array of quietly wrenching stories about despair and desire in the timeless world of modern-day Ireland. In the never-before-published story The Long and Painful Death,” a writer awarded a stay to work in Heinrich Böll’s old cottage has her peace interrupted by an unwelcome intruder, whose ulterior motives only emerge as the night progresses. In the title story, a priest waits at the altar to perform a marriage and, during the ceremony and the festivities that follow, battles his memories of a love affair with the bride that led him to question all to which he has dedicated his life; later that night, he finds an unlikely answer in the magical healing powers of a seer. A masterful portrait of a country wrestling with its past and of individuals eking out their futures, Walk the Blue Fields is a breathtaking collection from one of Ireland’s greatest talents, and a resounding articulation of all the yearnings of the human heart.

Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve

What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing
Author: Ben Blatt
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1501105388
Category: Humor
Page: 288
View: 2685

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What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? How can we judge a book by its cover? Data meets literature in this playful and informative look at our favorite authors and their masterpieces. “A literary detective story: fast-paced, thought-provoking, and intriguing.” —Brian Christian, coauthor of Algorithms to Live By There’s a famous piece of writing advice—offered by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and myriad writers in between—not to use -ly adverbs like “quickly” or “fitfully.” It sounds like solid advice, but can we actually test it? If we were to count all the -ly adverbs these authors used in their careers, do they follow their own advice compared to other celebrated authors? What’s more, do great books in general—the classics and the bestsellers—share this trait? In Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, statistician and journalist Ben Blatt brings big data to the literary canon, exploring the wealth of fun findings that remain hidden in the works of the world’s greatest writers. He assembles a database of thousands of books and hundreds of millions of words, and starts asking the questions that have intrigued curious word nerds and book lovers for generations: What are our favorite authors’ favorite words? Do men and women write differently? Are bestsellers getting dumber over time? Which bestselling writer uses the most clichés? What makes a great opening sentence? How can we judge a book by its cover? And which writerly advice is worth following or ignoring? Blatt draws upon existing analysis techniques and invents some of his own. All of his investigations and experiments are original, conducted himself, and no math knowledge is needed to understand the results. Blatt breaks his findings down into lucid, humorous language and clear and compelling visuals. This eye-opening book will provide you with a new appreciation for your favorite authors and a fresh perspective on your own writing, illuminating both the patterns that hold great prose together and the brilliant flourishes that make it unforgettable.