Archive for The Writer’s Notebook - page 2

Second Look Books: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy by Christopher Lasch

American Demagogue: The Why and How of Donald J. Trump Books discussed in this essay: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy by Christopher Lasch, (W.W. Norton and Company, New York) (1995) Listen, Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the…

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Second Look Books: A Hole in the Sky by William Kittredge

 Second Look Books: Hole in the Sky by William Kittrege (Alfred A. Knopf, $20) Review first published Sunday, August 30, 1992.   It seems impossible, but there is a place in America that is so empty, so terrifyingly beautiful, that one, on seeing it for the…

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Ray Bradbury–Imitation is the First Step

For ten years I wrote at least one short story a week, somehow guessing that a day would finally come when I got out of the way and let it happen…Ten years of doing everything wrong suddenly became the right idea… I hasten to add…

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Ray Bradbury–The Unconscious as Playroom

Back some thirty years ago I sat down to my typewriter one day and wrote these words: “The Playroom.” Playroom where? The Past? No. The Present? Hardly. The Future? Yes! Well, then, what would a Playroom in some future year be like? I began typing,…

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Ray Bradbury–Tenacity and the Muse

The Muse must have a shape. You will write a thousand words a day for ten or twenty years in order to try to give it shape, to learn enough about grammar and story construction so that these become part of the Subconscious, without restraining…

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Annie Dillard–Reading and the Spiritual Life

Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and is deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hope for literary…

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Annie Dillard–The Freedom of Writing; and, the Slavery too.

Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. It is life at its most free.   Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may…

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Annie Dillard–The Two Stacks, Good and Bad

Several delusions weaken the writer’s resolve to throw away work. If he has read his pages too often, those pages will have a necessary quality, the ring of the inevitable, like poetry known by heart. They will perfectly answer their own familiar rhythms. He will…

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Annie Dillard–Quiet, Poet at Work

Writing a book, full time, takes between two and ten years. The long poem, John Berryman said, takes between five and ten years…Flaubert wrote steadily, with only the usual appalling strains. For twenty-five years he finished a big book every five to seven years…On plenty…

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Annie Dillard–Adapting Yourself to the Art

The body of literature, with its limits and edges, exists outside some people and inside others. Only after the writer lets literature shape her can she perhaps shape literature. In working-class France, when an apprentice got hurt, or when he got tired, the experienced workers…

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