Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel
But that’s not what this review is about. Jane Smiley’s “Thirteen ways of Looking at the Novel” w...more
"unfortunately for the highly ideological novelist, ideas change - the first things to die in any novel are those precious social theories that the...more
I really, really enjoyed 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. I think it's great for someone who, like me, enjoys reading novels but doesn't think much about what they are or why she likes them, who'd appreciate some framework for thinking about them that isn't based at all in literary criticism or theory. Smiley isn't writing as an academic or a critic, but as a reader a...more
This doesn't compel me to keep reading.
Smiley wrote this book after 9/11 and after the really horrible novel "Good Faith." I disliked "Good Faith" intensely -- almost as passionately a...more
She explains that there are many sorts of writing and how novels fall into certain categories, and that the more categories the better. I always felt certain that I was writing a history...more
When writing your novel, Smiley insists your characters possess an abundance of talent, misfortune, and feral nature, and you must pepper everything with insight and paradoxes. A story about war is really about peace, and...more
Critical opinion varies greatly on the discourse offered by this Pulitzer Prize winner on the biography and art of the novel. While some critics applaud her convictions on what makes a novel and a novelist, others feel she needs to exit the classroom and enter the minds of the mainstream reader. As the author of 11 novels who turned her attention to devouring books when she lost inspiration while writing Good Faith (**** July/Aug 2003) during 9/11, she has certainly done her homework. Perhaps th...more
The book is divided into two sections. In the first section, she covers the "13 ways," which includes a thorough recitation of the modes of the novel. She covers the history and innovations of the form, the aesth...more
The first twel...more
I thought it funny that she didn't admire "The Unberable Lightness of Being." Perhaps she is right th...more
I enjoyed this book but wonder about who would be interested in reading it. It's not scholarly enough for critics but too methodical and slow for readers. Which leaves writers. But because Smiley's tastes and theories are peculiar to her, I don't know how interesting it will be to aspiring or professional novelists. I liked it because I didn't mind some of the sloggy parts and I have a general interest in how fiction writers conceive/position themselves and the field. That being said, the major...more
This is a heavy read, and it felt a little more like I was reading a textbook than I would have liked. The writing is beautiful, but at times, I think the same points and feeling could have been conveyed in half the word count. Parts of it were immensely enjoyable and insightful while other parts dragged a bit.
This one had me a little...more
She calls To Kill a Mockingbird "The Uncle Tom's Cabin of the 20th century." Lol.
There's no reason for you not to have...more
Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained a A.B. at Vassar College, then earned a M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar...more