New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 235 p. Audience: General/trade. WE DO NOT SHIP TO CANADA...Clean, tight copy with no writing. APPEARS NEVER TO HAVE BEEN READ! As new dust jacket with some light shelf wear.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-09-27 Pity the poor writer anthologized alongside Barry Hannah. There is much to commend in the 22 other contributions to this collection by writers who've taught at Iowa, including Margot Livesey, Francine Prose, James McPherson and Deborah Eisenberg. But few write such startling sentences as this whiplash-inducing hairpin turn from "Mr. Brain, He Want a Song," a meditation on the writing process: "Mr. Brain, he sick of sickness. He want a song, Jack. May I suggest that writing itself is freedom from consciousness as much as stimulant to it." Other highlights include Doris Grumbach's charming, if curmudgeonly, essays on her own beginnings as a writer and as a teacher, and grumblings about the publishing industry and celebrity authors: "It might help the level of prose if they would stop `appearing' and performing and become the private persons their craft requires them to be." Scott Spencer expresses disappointment with his students' carefulness, their fear of embarrassing themselves. A writer unwilling to express potentially risky and humiliating and hurtful truths, he warns, "is finally no more effective than a firefighter who will not smash in windows." A few of these essays stray into dry, vague disquisitions on the act of writing, highlighting the shortcomings of any such book: the process of writing is nearly always less interesting than what the process produces. Still, a compelling account of a writer's thinking, such as Abraham Verghese's eloquent and heartfelt "Cowpaths," drawing elegant connections between his work as a physician and his work as a writer, is a fine addition to any canon of literature. Never pompous, never dull, he closes his essay with the plainest, most inarguable truth: "That is why I write: because I still find comfort in words, because I find safety in the structures one can build from words, and because it is only by writing that I discover exactly what it is I am thinking." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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