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On Writers and Writing

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  7 reviews
"All my life, " John Gardner wrote, weeks before his death in a motorcycle accident, "I've lived flat-out. As a motorcycle racer, chemist, writer...I was never cautious." This goes for John Gardner the critic as well, and that is nowhere more evident than in the pieces collected in this book. On Writers and Writing brings together, for the first time, John Gardner's essays ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Counterpoint (first published 1994)
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Richard Jespers
Good if not snotty discussion of the writing of fiction:

"Sophie's Choice, as I hope I have already made clear, is a splendidly written, thrilling book, a philosophical novel on the most important subject of the twentieth century. If it is not, for me, a hands-down literary masterpiece, the reason is that, in transferring the form of the Southern Gothic to this vastly larger subject, Styron has been unable to get rid of or even noticeably tone down those qualities—some superficial, some deep—in t
Viking Paul
I enjoy both John Gardner's fiction and also his instructional manuals. This posthumous collection of essays can only be of interest to someone who is a) an avid collector and reader of the entire Gardner canon and b) someone fully aware of the literature he reviews and usually attacks. Bold and controversial, it is still a lesser work of a great scholar.
Novelist John Gardner celebrates the life-affirming nature of great fiction as he reviews the works of Herman Melville, Philip Roth, and Lewis Carroll, among others. This provocative writing cuts to the heart of his subjects and reveals the real essence of the work.

Worth it just for the essay on Bartelby the Scrivener alone. A little dated in that he reviews the contemporary fiction of his time, most of which is more or less relevant today, which, unfortunately, can also be said of John Gardner's own serious fiction. Recommended for those who practice the craft of writing or those readers, like myself, who crave more tools to dig deeper into serious fiction.
Merce Cardus
John Gardner, an author and a creative writing teacher and also a professor of medieval literature, shows in On Writers and Writing his facet as an advocate for higher artistic and moral standards in fiction.
Scott Lee
May 15, 2012 Scott Lee added it
Shelves: unowned
Made me feel bad about myself, and my writerly aspirations. Taught me a great lesson about not paying attention to anything that poisons your creativity.
CG Fewston
Great essays on the craft of writing. Must read for any writer.
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  • The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art
  • Creating Fiction
  • Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer's Life
  • Writing With Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983-2005
  • Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama
  • On Writing (Modern Library)
  • Living by Fiction
  • Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing
  • The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing
  • Narrative Fiction: Contemporay Poetics (Routledge New Accents)
  • The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words, revised
  • Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft
  • Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame
  • Write Like the Masters: Emulating the Best of Hemingway, Faulkner, Salinger, and Others
  • How to Write: Advice and Reflections
  • Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers
  • Alone with All That Could Happen: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom about the Craft of Fiction
  • Revising Prose
John Champlin Gardner was a well-known and controversial American novelist and university professor, best known for his novel Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf myth.

Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. His father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer, and his mother taught English at a local school. Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together. As a child, Gardner
More about John Gardner...
Grendel The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers On Becoming a Novelist October Light The Sunlight Dialogues

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“Art, of course, is a way of thinking, a way of mining reality.” 10 likes
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