Lawrence Sutin's memoir reminds me of Lynda Barry's graphic novel "What It Is", in particular her creative writing exercise involving images. Barry teLawrence Sutin's memoir reminds me of Lynda Barry's graphic novel "What It Is", in particular her creative writing exercise involving images. Barry teaches that you can create short narratives by taking random images and asking yourself various questions about who's in the picture, where it takes place, and so forth.
Maybe Sutin read Barry's graphic novel and decided to do just that with his vast collection of postcards. Through them he tells the story of his Jewish parents arrival in America, his childhood in the American Midwest, the women he loved, the women who didn't love him back, his university years and finally his writing and family life.
Most passages are as short as the postcards that inspire them, and not all are that interesting. But sometimes Sutin writes beautiful and touching passages, like the one on his grandmother's death in a concentration camp, or the one about his daughter....more
Books on creative writing are a whole genre unto themselves, and quite enjoyable in my opinion. Like other self-help books, they don't really solve anBooks on creative writing are a whole genre unto themselves, and quite enjoyable in my opinion. Like other self-help books, they don't really solve anything - if they did, there wouldn't be any need for more of them! But they are worthwhile reads if you want to know what makes a particular writer tick, what a basic story structure looks like, etc. And if they encourage you to put your derrière down and write, even better.
I've read nearly all of them: from How to Write a Bestseller to Writing Down the Bones, from Ken Follett's tips to Ursula K. Le Guin's helpful advice, and I'll probably keep doing it until my last days. Reading about how to write well is a satisfying accomplishment in itself.
Stephen King was halfway through this memoir in 1999 when he was hit by a van driver while out on a walk. The event, which nearly killed King, was caused by a reckless driver that King describes as "straight out of one of my novels". The incident is one of this memoir's bookends - the other one being Carrie, the novel that launched King's career - and it reads like an urgent missive, as if King had to put down his thoughts on writing before death finally took him.
The first time I read this memoir I came away thinking King doesn't revise much of his work - he only goes through it a few times before handing it over to his wife (his first editor) then his publishing house. This second time around, I listened to an audio version of the memoir (quite a few times actually as I kept falling asleep through it!) and King does make the point that revision is important. I would add that a good editor is also essential, and that he needs one! His similes are weak, his toilet humour slightly too prominent. But perhaps this is his charm, his defiant love for America's "down-to-earth" blue collars that puts him at odds with literary critics.
His memoir's main theme is that you can’t improve a poor or good writer, but you can turn a competent one into a good one. I’m not so sure about that – does he also include storytellers in that mix? – but I agree with him that you need a space of your own to write, to shut out the world, and that you need routine. Otherwise nothing gets done.
He believes that plotting ruins a story, stiffens it - kills some of the surprising elements in it. Better to just put your characters in a situation and then watch them try to get out of it. What happens when a mother and son get trapped in a car, attacked by a dog? (Cujo) What happens when a family move into a remote, empty hotel and the husband goes nuts? (The Shining).
One surprising fact I learnt from this re-read: King was part of a rock band with Barbara Kingsolver!...more
Cinco amigos. Rio de Janeiro, Século 20. Mulheres, bebidas, drogas, casamentos, divórcios, mortes, enterros. Fim. Uma piadinha aqui, outra ali, quaseCinco amigos. Rio de Janeiro, Século 20. Mulheres, bebidas, drogas, casamentos, divórcios, mortes, enterros. Fim. Uma piadinha aqui, outra ali, quase que Os Normais. Álvaro, Sílvio, Ribeiro, Neto e Ciro. E as mulheres que eles maltrataram, ou que lhes levaram à loucura. As mulheres que sobreviveram também. E o Padre Graça, sempre ali no funeral de cada um, tentando achar uma palavra boa entre tanta melancolia.
Fim é um romance curto, rapidinho de ler, o primeiro de Fernanda Torres. É um romance que levanta a questão: porquê Torres resolveu focar nesses cinco homens? O leitor não leva muito embora consigo depois da última página.
Esses casos familiares lembram um pouco as estórias de Rubem Fonseca, embora sejam menos impactantes. São cinco protagonistas cariocas que você não gostaria de dividir uma cerveja, nem mesmo um cafézinho. A conversa com eles é sempre a mesma coisa: não importa se você gosta de Bossa Nova, se malha todo dia na praia, se é um marido fiel, se segue todas as suas paixões, o Fim chega eventualmente e ele é SEMPRE feio.
(Com apenas uma exceção - um tipo de surpresa que Torres reserva para o final...)...more
This is Martin´s most literary novel in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, and the least loved by fans (apparently). After the intrigues of A Game oThis is Martin´s most literary novel in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, and the least loved by fans (apparently). After the intrigues of A Game of Thrones and the war, gore and horrors of A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords, Martin slows down the tempo and focuses the story on characters that have been, until then, Supporting Cast. He can finally take some time to flesh out the complex fantasy world he has created.
The pace is reflective, the chapters lacking the cliffhangers so expertly used in previous books. Martin takes more time to describe the world the characters inhabit - a world torn apart by war, picked over by crows, left to take its bearings during a short interlude. Not having to worry about protagonists, antagonists and obstacles, Martin can bring forward some beautiful and evocative passages that add pathos to the drama.
As readers we crave to know more about Tyrion, Jon Snow and Daenerys, the apparent heroes, but all we get are rumours and gossip from innkeepers, sailors and soldiers. Action is elsewhere, like Greek tragedy. Because we know Martin well by now, though, we can´t trust everything we read......more