Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life” as Want to Read:
The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,006 ratings  ·  151 reviews
“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”

So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto"
Kindle Edition, 45 pages
Published August 25th 2011 by Byliner, Inc. (first published January 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'ConnorEverything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'ConnorA Thousand Acres by Jane SmileyThe Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
The Iowa Writers' Workshop
16th out of 95 books — 19 voters
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa DiffenbaughTurn of Mind by Alice LaPlanteState of Wonder by Ann PatchettThe Getaway Car by Ann PatchettJust Kids by Patti Smith
Kathleen's Favorite Books of 2011
4th out of 19 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,640)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
THE GETAWAY CAR is Patchett’s mini-writing memoir and it’s my favorite work of hers to date. Girl had some making up to do. I’m a BEL CANTO fan, but I had very mixed feelings about this summer’s STATE OF WONDER. But all is forgiven because girl takes a hammer and NAILS it with this short and sweet memoir that tracks the ups and downs of her career through the sale of her first novel. Highlights include her tales of being one of Grace Paley’s student (Paley is so obviously Dr. Swenson in STATE OF ...more
Catelyn May
Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. And every time it happens, I am struck by that peculiar feeling that I've received something valuable that I didn't even know I needed. I needed to read this and I read it at exactly the right moment, and that might color my feelings about it, but isn't that how it is with everything?

When I was younger, mostly middle school and high school, I read books on writing. I never wrote much myself, as I knew that most of what I would attempt would be
Loved every word of this insanely wise and insightful account.
I'm wavering between three and four stars. Patchett is not my favorite writer but she's a writer and I enjoy reading what authors have to say about how they do their work. I write, too, just in a totally different capacity, but it's still writing. I often find helpful things in essays like this, whether it's comfort (yes, it's normal to have demoralizing moments in the process of writing), or tips that might work for me when I have trouble focusing enough to get all that blasted information and ...more
This is a Kindle "Short" that I enjoyed very much. I have not read any of Patchett's other works but her discussion of how she approaches fiction intrigued me. I read this in two sittings so I'm not sure that I remember what the getaway car had to do with it, but this is a comfortable, entertaining read for those writerly types among us. Or I would imagine a fan of her work would enjoy reading this. She offers some advice for those "writerly" types who want to publish and she gives general writi ...more
Joe Flood
The questions I get most about writing are the practical ones. What do you write with? Where do you write? How do you find time to write?

Answers to these questions are supplied by novelist Ann Patchett in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life. It's like a FAQ for aspiring writers.

Do you need to get an MFA in Creative Writing? Not if it means going into debt, according the prudent Patchett.

Should you turn your desk away from the window, to avoid distractions? "Desk positionin
I’ve never read a book or a short story by Ann Patchett before and I can’t tell you that I ever will—I passed Bel Canto more times than I could count when I worked at Borders without feeling any urge to pick it up. I also can’t tell you why I decided to pay $2.99 for an ebook by an author I’d never read before, when I haven’t read writing memoirs in almost a decade. But here we are. I bought it, I read it, I loved it and I learned from it.

This is super short, under a hundred pages (or a hundred
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Truly inspirational little memoir for writers. Filled with so many quote-worthy snippets ... though this one resonated with me greatly (and obviously with many others, given the number of Kindle "highlighters" on it):

"I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing."
Apparently one of the downsides of being a best-selling author is that you’re constantly inundated by offers from insistent strangers to take advantage of the fabulous opportunity to write their enthralling life stories. For a 50/50 split of the profits, of course, since they’d write it themselves if they had the time.

This short piece essentially says feel free to dig out that inner great novel yourself because she’s not going to write it for you. Just realize that you’ll need talent, drive, dis
Juan Ignacio Gelos

“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”So writes Ann Patchett in "The Getaway Car", a wry, wisdom-packed memoir of her life as a writer. Here, for the first time, one of America’s most celebrated authors ("State of Wonder", "Bel Canto", "Truth and Beauty"), talks at length about her literary career—the highs and the lows—and shares advice on the craft and ar

Ann Patchett offers a glimpse into her writer's life with "The Getaway Car." Part-memoir, part friendly "since you asked" advice, the essay addresses the reality and myths of the writing life. To her credit, Patchett does admit that what she outlines as her process is just that: her process. She illustrates this by comparing how she approaches a novel versus how her best friend and fellow writer approaches her novel writing. Some people compose in their head for months or maybe even years (Patch ...more
Won a copy of this Kindle single when joining I've heard parts of it before, in various talks given by Ann Patchett (and posted online). I enjoyed listening to the talks more than reading this single. I'm not interested in writing fiction, but many of the suggestions made by AP have to do with good work habits, not exclusively with writing.

Favorite quotes:

“It's a wonderful thing to find a great teacher, but you also have to find him or her at a time in life when you're able to liste
I LOVE to read books about writing, especially the memoirs. I've read a few of Patchett's books and I prefer the nonfiction, this especially included. I like her practical stance on MFA programs (don't go in debt for one) and her honest sharing of how difficult writing can be and how completely stubborn the writer can be (about writing). Patchett had the benefit of studying under some of America's premier authors and argues you can teach a person to write, albeit only in sentence structure, plot ...more
Warm, smart, and funny. Great reading for any writer no matter what stage of a career they might be at. I found it incredibly reassuring and kind, and I marked several sections with (electronic) highlights so that I can go back and re-read them again next time I'm battling self-doubt and insecurity.

Also, I read several anecdotes out loud to my husband because they were so funny!

But my favorite section was the one on her friendships with other writers, which was so true and so powerful. I loved
This is a very enjoyable memoir of novelist Ann Patchett's life as an author. It is an interesting stroll down memory lane with her, touching upon her educational background, her mentors, and her struggles and successes. Whether or not you are or want to be a writer, there are lots of little gems in here. A few examples:

- "We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides. In short, the story is in us, and all we have to do is si
Susan Barsy
As a expression of personality, this breezy, how-I-did-it reflection on achieving writerly success was unbecoming. Ms Patchett is spunky and wants us to admire her, but that's hard to do when she displays such evident condescension toward some of the ordinary devotees who attend her talks because they admire her or want to learn something of the secrets of novel-writing. She pillories those who strike her as stupid or benighted. This is an ungracious thing to do.

Some bits of advice in this book
Niki Danforth
Just finished reading the essay, "The Getaway Car," by Anne Patchett, as part of her longer collection, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. In this one essay, Patchett takes a stab at exactly what it means to pour everything you are into being a writer. The author says, "I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it."

Patrice Fitzgerald
I enjoyed this short and frank book about writing from Ann Patchett, of whom I'm a big fan. I was impressed by the practical nature of her advice -- exactly what the book promises.

She's entertaining and succinct.

Highly recommended for writers.
Joan Winnek
I read this right after finishing Ann Patchett's first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which I loved. This short memoir tells how this book came to be.
Brilliant as always, Ann Patchett. Delightful and useful advice for all, not just writers although certainly its focus is on helping writers get started.
Great, simple advice. Every aspiring writer should read.
Here is an essential guide on writing from someone who knows what it means to live in another world of a story. I found Patchett's essay to be filled with useful suggestions and words of encouragement for writers. I will definitely be referring to it again and again.

On making writing a priority:

I could see the genius in not having given 100 percent of myself over to writing before. It had kept me from ever having to come to terms with how good I was—or wasn’t. As long as something got in the way
Lindsey Lang
Loved it! I haven't actually read any of this author's books yet but I do have both Bel Canto and Patron Saint on my bookshelf. And now that I've read her views on writing maybe that will be enough to get me around to them. Either way I absolutely Loved this short book about writing, the love and hate of it, and this authors process and 'advice' if you really want to call it that. What I liked was that the book felt like a cozy conversation held by two friends in front of a fireplace. It wasn't ...more
Kelly Massry
Ann Patchett has received much attention for her championing of independent bookstores; she is the owner of one in Nashville, Tennessee. She is someone I don’t always love as a writer (I read and disdained State of Wonder this summer) but who I respect very much as a literary figure. I actually think she is at her best as a memoir writer; my favorite book of hers is Truth and Beauty, which details her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy. (First read Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face then read Trut ...more
I think I found out about Patchett from reviews of her book Bel Canto on Goodreads. Funnily the reviews for that book actually makes me wary of it and strike it out from considered to read list. Then there's another review about her memoir which made me even more wary of her. But then this is her book about writing and I risked it.

Having read it, I'm not sure I'll read her other books. I've read some other book about writing from other author and although this one is not necessarily bad, it's no
Deirdre Keating
Dec 14, 2012 Deirdre Keating rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Deirdre by: I saw it on Lara's goodreads:)
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't have an e-reader so I struggled to find a way to read this---and bought it via google finally and read in one sitting. I loved Patchett's Truth and Beauty and this book fleshed out some of the same time period in different ways. I'm surprised to hear her method of having most of it written/decided before she begins, but I loved every minute of reading it.

I adore Grace Paley and laughed out loud at her description. I was shocked to find that she applied to other writing programs and Iowa
This little memoir is more than just Patchett’s reflections on her own writing experiences. It offers advice to would-be writers in a way that engages the reader and empathizes with their struggles. She offers up her own practices and then admits that everyone has their own writing process. By defining what works for her, she is in no way setting guidelines, yet she illustrates how discipline is the key factor to getting words and ideas on paper. There were so many aspects I could relate to, hav ...more
This is an author's book on the practice of writing - at least for her. It delves into the work behind a great novel and the writing process in general. Definitely a read in one sitting type of book but for an aspiring novelist - that may be enough. I love Ann Patchett's novels and know a little of her back story, so this book added to that knowledge. I liked reading about how she constructs a novel or story and her main point being that writing - though the skill is sometimes a gift - the actua ...more
"Writing is a miserable, awful business. Stay with it. It's better than anything in the world."

Sometimes you read exactly what you need to read at exactly the time you need to read it. Such was my experience with this long essay! Highly recommended to anyone who values sound advice from a talent like Ann Patchett.
I have often imagined there was a writer somewhere inside me waiting to be released. I have read a lot of books with ideas on how to release that writer. This one has me rescheduling my life starting tomorrow to see what might come of actually sitting at my desk and WRITING!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 87 88 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Journal Keeper: A Memoir
  • Making a Literary Life
  • So You Want to Be a Librarian
  • The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life
  • Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True
  • The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Writing
  • From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
  • This Year You Write Your Novel
  • Your Life as Story
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight?
  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
  • Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Gentleman's Relish
  • The Pioneer Detectives
  • Naked, Drunk and Writing
  • Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer's Notebook
  • On Writers and Writing
Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi
More about Ann Patchett...
Bel Canto State of Wonder Run Truth and Beauty The Magician's Assistant

Share This Book

“We all have ideas, sometimes good ones, not to mention the gift of emotional turmoil that every childhood provides.” 4 likes
“It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entomological specimen, is achieved through regular, disciplined practice. What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out.” 4 likes
More quotes…