Mentor: A Memoir
When Grimes first meets Frank Conroy (then director of the legendary Iowa Writers' Workshop), he tells him he recently applied to the program.
Conroy's response? "Yeah, you and eight hundred others." But Grimes was not only accepted; he was offered the top scholarship an auspicious beginning. Grimes want...more
"low expectations" (or some equivalent expression). Although the result of low expectations is often poor performance and/or wasted potential,
I've had more gains than losses come from expecting little. I probably expected -- because I hoped for -- more from Tom Grimes's MENTOR than I should have. The book and I came together, with the GR first-reads system...more
I won't go into a lot of detail about this book. I will say it's a must-read for aspiring literary fiction writers. Most writers are the literary equivalent of McDonald's. They pound out words like McDonald's pounds out food that's pure calories and no nutritional value. All text, no subtext. Tom Grimes is like a...more
Recommended for anyone who had any experience with Frank Conroy and wondered what it might have been like to have known him better. F...more
Strong, clear prose. Good story telling, too.
The NYT review cautioned young writers about reading this book because of its emphasis on the failure most writers face, but I found that aspect of the memoir right on target. The need to create des...more
Many writers have been writing memoirs on their writing endeavo...more
Although this is a wonderful memoir about the author's relationship with Frank Conroy and the Iowa Writer's Workshop, it is much more than that.
Mr. Grimes is certainly writing at his best when he describes, in great detail, his sister's suicide attempts and her subsequent loss of self. He succeeds as well in plumbing his own descent into mania with some of the best written pages in this book.
Altogether this is an enlightening book on the conception, gestation...more
To quote - "In the end, my memoir about Frank is a memoir about me. By writing about Frank, I could no longer turn away from myself, which is what I've done all of my life."
I can say...more
Tom Grimes tells the story of his life as a writer with few details moving beyond that scope. This keeps the memoir focused, which I appreciated. And his life as a writer is completely connected with that of his mentor, Frank Conroy, and man who ran the Iowa Writer's Workshop for many years, so this becomes a kind of biography of Conroy, too.
"It's astonishing how much insight, passion, pain, joy, self-doubt, and sheer love Tom Grimes has managed to pack into this tightly made memoir of his relationship with the writer Frank Conroy. Not only does Mentor offer an honest and compelling account of the struggles of a writer at the onset of his career, but this immaculately composed memoir also draws an enduring an...more
Writer, teacher, and philanthropist, Tom Grimes, wrote this memoir about his friendsh...more
Tom Grimes is an excellent writer. The fact that his fiction has never reached the heights he'd hoped for as a young man is, perhaps, only a matter of time. If any novelist writes more than one or two phenomenal books in his or her lifetime, it's a path to eternal fame. Perha...more
It is a memoir, as the title suggests, but it is also a pull-no-punches account of what life as a writer is like. It’s not pretty, but I think it’s pretty realistic. Frustration, r...more
Given the subject matter, though, it's clear this book was not written or marketed toward the average reading public. I would venture to guess that a large majority of the people...more
The relationship between Grimes and Conroy is something all young writers covet, just as Conroy's stunning first book is something we all want to write. And Grimes' honest portrayal of how hard the writing life is, despite how brilliant and supportive a mentor y...more
“Well,” I said, “it’s about a writer, Tom Grimes, who goes to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The mentor of the title is Frank Conroy—not to be confused with Pat. Tom Grimes describes working on his first book, and when it’s published, he gets only a little bit of critical attentio...more
Two writing highpoints:
Grimes is given backstage access to the NY Mets for two weeks as he writes his novel. He witnesses a comeback win with the team's GM, then picks...more
He sets himself up, really. He tells the reader how important a sentence must be and how no detail should be insignificant, then writes things like this:
"I didn't want to switch colors [of notebook] as I wrote the novel, and my intuition had drawn me to red, which I believed would bring me luck, as would the new p...more
I'm not a fiction writer but as a teacher and (former) student I resonated to his description of the moods surrounding their relationship -- Grimes' anxiety about what Conroy would think of his work; Conroy's seemingly uncompetitive, pure...more