NONFICTION

How To Read a Novelist

Farrar. Oct. 2013. 368p. illus. ISBN 9780374173265. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780374710576. LIT
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In this collection of 55 interviews with contemporary novelists, critic Freeman, the former president of the National Book Critics Circle and editor in chief at Granta magazine, celebrates his best previously published conversations with international literary figures. He describes his interview experience as seeing the "flesh and blood" of creators of fictional worlds. The most revealing detail mentioned in common among the interviewees is how many years authors dedicate to writing their novels. While the reader may spend one weekend with a book, authors dedicate years. Several writers discuss the motivation they experience after their contemporaries write negative reviews. Authors such as Richard Ford describe the need to get away from writing in order to begin the next novel, while others, including Joyce Carol Oates, say that all they know how to do is write. Additional interviewees include John Irving, Amy Tan, Tom Wolfe, Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides, and, Freeman's favorite, John Updike.
VERDICT This volume will inspire readers, lead them to new authors, and is an excellent resource for struggling novelists.

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