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The Novel

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,729 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
In this riveting new novel, James A. Michener, America's preeminent bestselling author, plunges us into the exciting world he knows so well: the world of books. Here is the fascinating story of a writer, editor, critic, and reader locked in a desperate scenario of life, death, love and truth.

Lukas Yoder, a novelist who has had a long, successful career, has written what he
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Mass Market Paperback, US / Canada, 448 pages
Published July 20th 1992 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chance Maree
Jun 11, 2014 Chance Maree rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary

THE NOVEL has 4 parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic, and The Reader. Loosely, it follows the development of what may be the final novel of an esteemed and popular writer who rose through a traditional publishing career.

In the first 2 sections, we follow a novel from a professional, workhorse of a writer, to the hands of the writer's long-time editor. These sections were interesting to me, for Michener addresses issues of the publishing industry such as conglomerate takeovers to the care/f
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Elaine
Aug 21, 2011 Elaine rated it did not like it
Somewhere around the page 200 mark, The Novel goes from being mildly entertaining to being downright unpalatable. I'd like to think it's because booger-brained critic Striebert was introduced, but even after skipping through his section, which consisted of Michener masturbating over literature, I still wanted to hurl the book across the room. The only character I found interesting or had any sympathy for at all was the Mennonite oaf, Applebutter. I was hoping Michener would write a spin-off seri ...more
Apryl Anderson
Mar 23, 2016 Apryl Anderson rated it it was amazing
It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything written by an artist. Most everything has been ‘classic’, in other words, outdated bestsellers. In contrast, this was a book by a very hardworking and gifted author.
It was fascinating to read the points-of-view of four different, but interrelated characters. Different in occupation, socio-economic cultural upbringing, experience; but the same in regards to setting and a relationship with a particular author. To go deeper into the author’s purpose i
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Jim
I don't often go for Michener novels because who has that kind of time? But "The Novel" is a great page-turner of a read. Written in four parts (a la The Sound and the Fury), this inside look at the world of publishing, wrapped around a murder mystery, delivers a lot in only 435 pages.

Of particular interest was the section written by "the critic". His chart of 'The Doomed House of Atreus' and his comments about Erich Auerbach are pretty much spot on and have spurred me on to deepening my reading
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Lynn G.
My history with James Michener has been hit or miss. Some of his other books seemed overly long, filled with too much description, shallow characters, or even shallower storylines. From some I gleaned knowledge of people, places, and things that I had known little of previously. However, The Novel struck a chord. Perhaps because I lived in Pennsylvania briefly I felt connected to the characters and setting or maybe The Novel was the right book at the right time. Whatever the reason, I enjoye ...more
Tpmac21
Sep 03, 2012 Tpmac21 rated it it was amazing
I didn't appreciate this book until reaching the critics section. This is where Michener's genius in characterization comes through as we see him legitimately address problems that his own critics have heaped upon his work. (Namely that he is long winded and overly descriptive).

Michener does not use the critic character to take his revenge, but instead critiques his own writing style very adroitly. I believe that this stands as a work of an aging author to place his past body of work in its pro
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Cojaysea
Mar 04, 2014 Cojaysea rated it it was amazing
I can't imagine anyone who loves to read , who is interested or wished they could have been a writer and wants to know what the process of writing takes from its first thought right through to its publishing not liking this book. i was a huge fan of Michener back in the 70,s and starting with THE DRIFTERS ( one of my all time favorite novels) i read probably 8 of his books. i haven't read anything by him for years and decided to read one of his later works, this book being the last one he wrote ...more
Acj
Mar 26, 2015 Acj rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
Sep 02, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok
Interesting insights into the publishing industry but I couldn't get past the first 200 pages. The narrative got so boring I had to give up.
Chaz Van Heyden
Jun 20, 2016 Chaz Van Heyden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got my hands on a truly unique creative work called The Novel–Michener again. And it is this book that I highly, no HIGHLY recommend that any author, and that includes composers and songwriters as well should read this story. (Many of my reviews have occurred a year or two ago; simply because I am an author publishing nearly two books a year plus music publishing.)

Again, since there are 161 previous reviews (MM Paperback) to mine, I will forego the need to delineate details about this work and
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Rita
Aug 18, 2014 Rita rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-fiction
MICHENER
The Novel

c 1991, and also set in 1991
[he died in 1997]

Glad I read it, learned plenty about the book trade, about the work of editors, agents, and literary criticism. All interesting. And he's a good storyteller.

Would certainly not bother to read the book a second time.
Some of the criticism directed towards The Author in this book must be similar to criticism of Michener’s own fiction.

I agree with that criticism that his books are quite sentimental. For instance, except for one minor cha
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Amanda
Dec 03, 2015 Amanda rated it it was ok
I'm really sad that I can't give this book a good review. I heard about it through Wild, when Cheryl Strayed read this book and was raving about it. This piqued my curiosity, so I checked it out from the library.
It's important to note that the book is broken down into 4 chapters, each being about 100 pages. This immediately worried me just because there were absolutely no breaks between the different chapters, between the 4 different stories. And that is where my main issue with this book lies-
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Sydney Avey
Jul 23, 2014 Sydney Avey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books, novels
How interesting to be immersed in James A. Michener’s The Novel, published in 1991, and also happen onto a review of James Seaton’s Literary Criticism from Plato to Postmodernism published in the Wall Street Journal July 21, 2014. Both tackle similar issues in different contexts and arrive at surprisingly similar conclusions. Michener takes on academia and publishing in the context of a good story. “Fiction is growth,” the academic tells the budding editor. In the end, the author has convinced h ...more
Lisa
May 06, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book. I'm a big Michener fan, always have been. Hadn't heard about this one until I read the book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. She read it along the PCT. Had to give it a try.

Book starts out a bit slow. I thought, "oh no, how am I going to get through this?" I kept plodding along and yes, it did get better. The book is divided into four main chapters and you get a perspective of the story from each of four different individuals. It definitely picks up with the last individua
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Lynne Spreen
Jan 24, 2016 Lynne Spreen rated it it was ok
Normally, I would love a Michener novel, but this was self-indulgent and boring. "Yoder" reflected the mindset of an elite author whose world revolved around him, and who expected same. The more current reality is that of a writer working with much less support, let alone adulation. I respect what Michener did (I loved Centennial) but I stopped reading at about the 25% mark.
Pamela Trawick
Jul 27, 2009 Pamela Trawick rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, 2009
Debated about rating it higher. Good coverage of books, publishing, and who decides what's a good book. Why should "they" get to decide what everyone else should think is good? That always bugged me as an English major. This book makes you think it through for yourself and decide your criteria and whether or not you're going to be bullied into conforming.
Cynthia
Dec 10, 2014 Cynthia rated it liked it
Sentimental and at times sappy, suitable for maiden aunts who blanch at bad language. This was written late in Michener's life (1991) and some of it feels very dated, particularly the discussion of possible HIV/AIDS transmission from a shaving razor. Also at one point a woman gives up on ever being able to operate her VCR. Hmm.

The book is divided into four parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and The Reader. The Editor, Yvonne Marmelle, aka Shirley, describes falling in love with books as a
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Wendy
Jan 31, 2014 Wendy rated it it was amazing
This is his best novel by far! He does a great study and description of each viewpoint in the literary world: novelist, publisher, critic, reader. And he saves the best for last. I'll buy this one and use it as reference for "The Great Books" of modern history as he casts their seeded names across each section. This fit well with the Hemingway reading I was doing because of the Critic's connection to Ira Pound, the 1930s poet-mentor of so many famous artists. He is important because he committed ...more
Katie
Aug 11, 2009 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Michener I've read -- a solid story of the publishing industry from four different perspectives. It kept my attention, and was a decent summer read.
Bryan Schmidt
Jun 11, 2010 Bryan Schmidt rated it liked it
This is average Michener, but still worthwhile. About a writer's life, which he knew well. I should reread it myself now that I am more active as an author.
Claudia Mundell
Dec 26, 2014 Claudia Mundell rated it liked it
I used to read every Michener I could get my hands on. Somehow I missed this one. While it wasn't my favorite, it was full of Michener style. He wrote in the 90's about a fictional piece author writing and publishing a novel. It was the time novels were changing and the German publishers were beginning to take over the big publishing houses of New York. Of course, now we can read this book as history...nothing in publishing is the same now as 20 years ago. Since I have been dissatisfied with man ...more
Leslie Wilkins
Oct 07, 2012 Leslie Wilkins marked it as to-read
One of the books Cheryl Strayed deemed important enough to carry on the PCT.
Miriam Garcia
Sep 28, 2014 Miriam Garcia rated it really liked it
One of these days I'm going to find time to actually write a real review.

This was a pretty okay novel. I think it missed making a point since there was so much extensive waffling between the "art is supposed to be progressive" and "art is supposed to be populist" stances. I understand that both views are correct, and I agree, but as far as presentation went, the verdict seemed to swing from one side to the other. There's really not much page-time devoted to a scenario where a work is progressive
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blmagm
Dec 29, 2012 blmagm rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
aPriL does feral sometimes
I've read many Michener novels and I enjoy them, but he always has the tone of a strict maiden aunt who insists that one sits up straight and eats all of one's vegetables, but does not think it too unseemly if you decide to have a couple of jiggers of whiskey following the meal. This one is much the same.

Unusual for Michener, he pulls off writing in several voices, assuming the supposed reactions of four characters: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and the Reader. The Reader section is the onl
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Hank
Apr 07, 2010 Hank rated it really liked it
I’ve read a few books by James Michener and on each one of them I’ve started out thinking “how in the world could this boring title/ topic be interesting”, only to find his book quickly gains a grip on me that will not let go.

Novel is a book about writing a novel; in this case a contrast between a well appreciated old style author and several pioneers in varying avant-garde styles. A book about writing a book sounds so bland, yet Michener’s quality writing propels the reader forward, ironically
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Jim Leckband
Nov 26, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it liked it
This is the first book I've read by Michener, but I definitely had an idea of what his stuff was like. I grew up in his heyday and the literary landscape was strewn with his massive book boulders. Knowing his usual types of books, I chose this book because it wasn't going to be a novel tied to a place (Tales of the South Pacific, Chesapeake, Poland) or a historical event (Centennial, The Bridges at Toko-ri).

"The Novel" is probably Michener's most personal since it involves the profession for whi
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Neil Friedman
Sep 04, 2012 Neil Friedman rated it liked it
I found this paperback at a used book sale at a local library. When I read the blurb I was intrigued by its premise — the story of how a book gets written, published, critiqued and read with each chapter devoted to that idea.
The book was not only one of best-selling author James Michener’s last novels, written about five years before his death, but perhaps his shortest. Known for his epic stories of people and places, this one is not as extensive and doesn’t quite meet that criterion with its c
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Troy
Dec 08, 2013 Troy rated it it was ok
I picked this title because I had been meaning to read a Michener novel for many years and it happened to be on Cheryl Strayed's reading list from Wild, which I was using to narrow the choices for my next read. I actually made The Novel part of a little class I created for myself. I included other, nonfiction books about reading and writing and why people bother with them.

This was an unusual novel from the very beginning. It was published in 1992, but it read like it was written in the sixties,
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Patricia Johnson
Nov 18, 2012 Patricia Johnson rated it liked it
Four novellas - The Writer; The Editor; The Critic and the Reader

The Writer - I give this two Stars ... The writer, a Pennsylvania Dutch, writes about the German settlers (Amish & Mennonites). He pens several novels on this subject but it takes an editor that believes in his skills as a writer to encourage him to continue writing after several failures.

The Editor - I give this two Stars ... follows a young woman with little education into the publishing business. She becomes a first rate ed
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for t
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More about James A. Michener...

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