Frankly, the title story blew me away, and the second story, "Among the Wreckage," was also impressive, but the rest weren'tLyrical, beautiful, but--
Frankly, the title story blew me away, and the second story, "Among the Wreckage," was also impressive, but the rest weren't as good as those two stories. It was also clear to me at least that Yoon was a prose stylist and not so much a storyteller, and what compelled me to read through this collection was precisely his strength: his lyrical yet deceptively simple prose.
I think he achieves a perfect balance between prose and story in the title story, "Once the Shore," which moved me with its lyricism and story. I also thought the prose in that story was particularly strong—so strong that I felt unworthy as a writer and made me want to write like him, because it was the kind of prose I aspire to write: simple yet lyrical, tight and effortless without any unnecessary words.
He also showed me that it was possible to tell a story in a foreign country without using any foreign words—something I had never considered before I read his stories. It's definitely a possibility I'm willing to experiment with.
Insofar as I ended up writing a whole story in his style, he did have significant impact on me, and I appreciated the opportunity to read him.
These twenty-two short tales reminded me of Dostoevsky in the intensity of the characters' suffering and their quest for love. My fInteresting tales--
These twenty-two short tales reminded me of Dostoevsky in the intensity of the characters' suffering and their quest for love. My favorites "A Man of Ideas," "Respectability," "Loneliness," and two actually linked stories, "The Strength of God" and "The Teacher."
Anderson has a knack for portraying eccentric characters with their strange and endearing obsessions (e.g., the son of a eccentric store wanting to prove one's not a "queer" in the old-fashioned meaning of the term, or a priest resisting the irresistible and sinful urge for voyeurism), as well as their struggle with loneliness and their attempts at connecting with others.
But the stories were too loosely linked for me, and I wanted more connection—which admittedly could be the point—or at least close links among the stories. In fact, only "The Strength of God" and "The Teacher" are really strongly linked stories in that they tell stories of the same event from different perspectives. There is some sense of connection, or rather a chain of causes and effects in the last three stories that lead up to the "protagonist" leaving the town, but that's about it. Some characters are mentioned briefly in more than one story and George Willard does appear in most of the stories, but they don't seem to form any coherent narrative arc. Do they portray the community of Winesburg as a whole? I'm not sure. Because a lot of characters don't reappear in other stories, I don't think reading each community member's story illuminated the community per se.
What is conveyed are the sense of loneliness and isolation everyone experiences in Winesburg and their yearning to connect with others. Winesburg is, to use an oxymoron, a very lonely community, or more accurately, a community of loners. Which is all the more poignant given how true it still is, or all the more so in not just Middle America but in big cities anywhere in the world. The more people there are, the lonelier each member gets. So this theme is definitely more relevant today, and it was interesting to see a book written in the early 1900s about a small town in Ohio comes to portray the modern malaise so well.
This little book is just so good—not only does it give you just enough math to make you feel curious and satisfied, it teEven better the second time--
This little book is just so good—not only does it give you just enough math to make you feel curious and satisfied, it tells a ripping good story about probability theory and statistics, providing along the way compelling portraits of the eccentric scientists and mathematicians who contributed to the fields. This time, I wanted to refresh my memory of all the thorny problems probability and statistics give us (we are really, really bad at intuiting probability, as psychologists have again and again shown us).
One good refresher among many was the fallacy we make in dealing with conditional probability, mostly prominently manifested in conspiracy theories and paranoid thoughts: these events happened, therefore there is a huge conspiracy. Or close to home (for me at least): an agent hasn't gotten back to me yet, therefore she must not like my work. Probability-wise these are based on the wrong probabilities, and logically, these are equivalent to the fallacy of affirming the consequent (if P then Q, Q, therefore P). So from the valid, highly probable inference, "If there is a huge conspiracy, these events happen" or "If an agent doesn't like my work, she will not respond for a long time," we see the consequent—these events happened, or the agent hasn't responded in a long time—and draw the mistaken conclusion that there is a huge conspiracy. Or the agent doesn't like my work. What's wrong with this is that there are so many possible reasons why a series of events occurred other than due to a huge conspiracy, or why the agent hasn't gotten back to me in a long time (she's just busy!). In probability terms:
the probability that she he doesn't respond to me in a long time GIVEN she doesn't like my work
is high and valid, whereas:
the probability that an agent doesn't like my work given she has not responded to me in a long time
is low (because there could be all sorts of reasons why she hasn't responded to me).
Just to hammer it home, this can be illustrated with a simple example:
If you are human, you eventually die.
is a perfectly valid conditional, but
You (pointing at a squirrel) eventually die, so you (the squirrel) must be human.
is definitely not.
More importantly, what I for some reason failed to write about in my 2012 review and totally forgot about until I reread the book is Yale sociologist Charles Perrow's normal accident theory Mlodinow mentions in the last chapter, how disasters in complex systems occur when many little human mistakes just happen to coincide at just the wrong (or right—depending on your perspective) time. I was so interested in this theory that I actually bought the seminal book by Perrow himself (and duly put on the shelf for "read immediately").
Excellent, excellent book.
[Read 1/5/2012] Awesome--
This book made me admire what modern statistics—a topic I couldn't care less—is capable of doing and convinced me, like Taleb's The Black Swan and Burton Malkiel's Random Walk Down Wall Street how randomness really rules our lives and it's important to recognize chance events and not mistakenly assign them some causality that's not there. The history of probability theory and statistics Mlodinow tells in this book is nothing short of fascinating, and I was floored by the answers to some of the problems he so deftly presents.
1) there are three doors. Behind one of them is a treasure, and behind two are geese. You pick a door. The host of the show opens one of the doors you've picked and show geese behind it. Is it better to switch your choice?
The answer: yes. You will increase your probability of winning from 1/3 to 2/3. Why? Read the book to find out why.
2) The Attorney's Fallacy. Take the O.J. Simpson trial. The prosecutor argued O.J. Simpson was an abusive husband. The defense attorney Alan Dershowitz then argued that the probability of an abusive husband killing his wife is so low, the prosecutor's argument for O.J.'s propensity for violence is misguided. In more detail:
4 million women are battered annually by their husbands and boyfriends in the U.S. Yet in 1992, a total of 1,432 women (or 1 in 2,500) were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Therefore, few men who beat their wives or girlfriends go on to murder them.
Convincing, but that's not the relevant probability. The relevant probability is rather: the probability that a battered wife who was murdered is murdered by her abuser. And of all the battered women murdered in 1993 in the U.S.some 90% were killed by their abuser.
Then there's the reassuring implication that success comes to you largely by random—publication, prizes, business success, fame, etc.—and that means the longer we persevere, the better our odds are of succeeding. As an aspiring writer, this non-deterministic paradigm of looking at the world has helped me boost my confidence and determination.
I don't know. It's such a short book. It's more like a long short story/memoir than a novella. For one thing, the formatting seemed off throughoHmm...
I don't know. It's such a short book. It's more like a long short story/memoir than a novella. For one thing, the formatting seemed off throughout the book—some paragraphs are indented, some have line breaks in between, some don't). Then there's the translation. Having taken a class in literary translation, I thought the translation was a little awkward especially in syntax, making sentences sound not English. Of course, some foreignness is good, especially when it's the author's stylistic quirks, but when it's just awkward in English, it's a sign of sloppy translation.
As for the content of the book, it's okay. There are really lucid moments of insight about romance, but it just didn't resonate with me.
I read it in one day, and I was immediately taken in by the narrator's voice—courteous and friendly—and the story he tells. The framed story ofGood--
I read it in one day, and I was immediately taken in by the narrator's voice—courteous and friendly—and the story he tells. The framed story of the narrator talking to "you," an American tourist in Pakistan, is well done without being gimmicky (until the very end when the narrative mode becomes burdensome as rapid actions unfold).
One thing I need to point out is that the love story of Changez and Erica, though, is really similar to Murakami's Norwegian Wood: a relationship with a broken woman who's in love with her dead boyfriend, not being able to get wet, succeeding only once, and there are other quite obvious similarities, and so I didn't really like that part of the story. The story of his rise and fall in the corporate America, though, was quite gripping, despite or because of the Princeton background (something I'm familiar with).
The author's move half way in the story indeed caught me off guard and I was pleasantly surprised (you'll see if you read it), and I think it succeeded in achieving the effect it wanted (of making the reader sympathetic to, or at least identify with, an "anti-America" view like Changez's.
After hearing so much about Babel's great short stories, I finally decided to tackle them this winter, my heart full of anticipationNot for everyone--
After hearing so much about Babel's great short stories, I finally decided to tackle them this winter, my heart full of anticipation.
The collection was for a large part, a disappointment. His early stories aren't really worth reading, and his Odessa stories, though much praised, are really flash fiction pieces with almost no recognizable story structure and not much interconnectedness. The character of Benya Krik is interesting, but we don't really get to know much about him. His celebrated Red Cavalry stories are better, but still uneven.
Some stories are definitely interesting to be sure (e.g. "Salt," "The Story of a Horse," "Squadron Commander Trunov," "Sashka Christ," and "My First Goose"), but I might have had too high an expectation for his shorts. Or since many of them do read like memoir-esque sketches or anecdotes, it might have been wrong of me to expect full contemporary stories on the level of Flannery O'Connor.
At any rate, the stories I found most interesting were his later autobiographical ones. His childhood experiences are just wonderfully rich with a host of unforgettable and quirky characters. Babel tries longer forms with these, and so they feel more "traditional" with familiar story structure.
So that was my impression on the first read through. I'll probably need to come back and reread some of the Red Cavalry and later stories to appreciate Babel's work and accept his (alleged) place in world literature.
I haven't read anything like this. A mix of surrealism and modernism, we enter a town where the dead roam around and tA strange, but compelling read--
I haven't read anything like this. A mix of surrealism and modernism, we enter a town where the dead roam around and talk, revealing in fragmented narrative, its past.
The fragmented narrative threw me off in the beginning, but got used to it after a few switches in POV. I didn't know what happened to the narrator until I finished the book, and it surprised me in retrospect that Juan Rulfo could pull this off.
"A masterpiece of surrealism," it says on its back cover, and this is one of the rarest instances where the blurb is right.
A must-read for any lover of magical realism and surrealism.
I knew instinctively exercise was good for the brain, but this book goes into great detail about how exercise inA GREAT tool to have under your belt--
I knew instinctively exercise was good for the brain, but this book goes into great detail about how exercise influences the biology of our brains and hence our minds, all backed up by science.
I learned all sorts of cool and useful facts—e.g. the calming effect of exercise lasts up to 1.5 hours, aerobic exercise increases brain capacity by growing new capillaries, exercise an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and ADHD, and how the mind stays sharp even in old age as long as you're exercising—and you should know them, whether you like or don't like exercise.
The only regrettable point is that the author drops what he calls the "Paleo pattern" of exercise—the scholars' estimate of how much prehistoric human beings exercised—in the beginning of the book and never mentions it again. His recommended dose of exercise doesn't seem to bear any relationship to how much our Stone Age ancestors reportedly exercised, and I would've liked to see a study comparing the exercise regimen Dr. Ratey recommends with a high-intensity regimen based on the Paleo pattern. But it seems we have to wait for further research and study to know—if there's such a thing—the optimal exercise regimen.
A must read for anyone who wants to stay mentally sharp and healthy....more
Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works andVERY useful--
Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works and how to use your brain wisely, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to perform better at work, school, or in life in general. In this book you'll learn how to fend off anxiety and negative emotions, be creative on demand, influence others, and much more backed up by neuroscience and told in easy-to-remember story format.
The ARIA model of creativity, the labeling technique to calm your limbic system, and the SCARF model alone are worth the price of this book. I also took away how important mindfulness is in applying all the information contained in this book and using my brain to its full potential.
When I read Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" half a year ago in Burroway's Writing Fiction, I wasn't impressed. BuExcellent--
When I read Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" half a year ago in Burroway's Writing Fiction, I wasn't impressed. But after reading her essays, I bought this collection and was engrossed.
Her early stories are not as impressive as her later ones (thus the 4 stars the collection gets), but boy, she gets better and better. The stories from her collections were superb and blew me away.
To get into her stories, you have to get used to a lot of expositions that fell mostly out of practice in contemporary fiction, but once you get the hang of it, you'll sense that a master is at work in each story (after "A Good Man is Hard to Find") and can't help but cling to every sentence. And floored by the experience by the end. Just wonderful.
In one of her essays, she says, "The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning," and she masterfully walks her talk in her later stories and simply floored me.
Great stuff. If you're bored and puzzled by her early shorts, don't be discouraged. Skip ahead to "A Good Man is Hard to Find" or plow through and see how the writer improves story after story. The hard slog might be necessary to experience O'Connor's arc as an artist.
In reading Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners, I was inspired and found so many things relevant to my situation as a writer and teacher. I will rIn reading Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners, I was inspired and found so many things relevant to my situation as a writer and teacher. I will respond to her book in two parts, first from the standpoint of a teacher and second from that of a fiction writer.
One of the tips that may be useful in teaching creative writing is her insistence that fiction must, before all else, be concrete and appeal to the senses. One of my students likes to write abstractly because, he says, it will allow different people to see what they want to see. I told him that’s probably an ineffective way of writing and gave him James Joyce’s quote: “In the particular is contained the universal.” In fact, one thing I want my students to take away from my class is writing concretely, whether in fiction or poetry.
Another point that is personally relevant to me is O’Connor’s claim that students need to learn tools to understand a story. After a disastrous class on characterization where I presented the tools of characterization to my students at the end of the class, I decided to do another lesson on the topic. I started with a simple question, “Why do we read in a creative writing class?” They responded with “So we can steal from them,” which allowed me to tell them we were going to read that week’s story and look at what the author is doing at the level of craft so they can learn how to do the same. And this time, I gave them the tools first and went over the story paragraph by paragraph, reminding them to keep the tools in mind and asking them what they learned about the characters in each paragraph. I also had them build an interesting character using the tools, and I hope that class was a lot more successful in teaching my students the tools than the first one.
Going back to O’Connor, I also agree with her assessment that workshops, especially undergraduate ones, tend to be “composed in equal part of ignorance, flattery, and spite” (86). Though I haven’t seen “spite” in the workshops I ran, I have seen my student finish “workshopping” one another’s work after ten to twenty minutes. And sadly, some of those elements—especially flattery—remain in graduate-level workshops.
Now as a writer, I strongly disagree with O’Connor’s belief that fiction writing is a gift, or as she puts it, “If you have it in the first place, you can develop it; if you don’t have it, you might as well forget it” (88). Like Anthony Johnston, I don’t believe in talent, and I highly doubt I could have been born with any innate ability to write fiction in English.
This notwithstanding, I found most of her essays to be germane to me as a writer. First, I was inspired by her definition of fiction: “A story is a way of saying something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is… The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning” (96). Now, this made me think of Zen’s concept of art, where art aims to achieve maximal effect with minimal means, which is something I aspire to in all of my work.
Second, something I have been thinking about a lot lately is the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind in writing, and she drives home the idea that jibes with my experience as reflected in my analogy of a sculpture in response to Madison Smartt Bell: “The time to think of technique is when you’ve actually got the story in front of you” (102). Elsewhere, she makes the point that too much competent alone is harmful because you need vision to go with it, and vision is something you can get only from the unconscious mind. Being too self-conscious of technique when writing a first draft, I think, kills any vision that the unconscious mind is trying to communicate to you, and that’s why O’Connor says, “One thing that is always with the writer—no matter how long he has written or how good he is—is the continuing process of learning how to write” (83). This is exactly something I’ve been experiencing with my own work. Every time I start a new story, contrary to my expectations, it’s never easier. If anything, it’s harder. I’m constantly wincing at humdrum descriptions and the flatness of the plot and fighting the impulse to edit. Each story presents its peculiar difficulties and I have to learn how to render those into credible scenes. Also, because technique comes after the first draft, finishing the first draft is always a learning experience.
Third, I’ve been drawn to stories with natural disasters in them (earthquake, tsunami, rockfall in a tunnel, etc.), and her claim about the role of violence in her fiction explained my fascination with crises and how they could be viewed: “With the serious writer, violence is never an end in itself. It is the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially” (113). This way of thinking about my fascination with natural disasters made me realize that although they have never been just ends in themselves, I could do so much more with them. O’Connor helped me understand what I’ve been trying to do unconsciously: getting to the essence of who the characters are. This was a valuable realization.
Finally, her remark about the relationship between craft and depth really struck a chord in me: “This is not to say that [the novelist] doesn’t have to be concerned with adequate motivation or accurate references or a right theology; he does; but he has to be concerned with these only because the meaning of his story does not begin except at a depth where these things are exhausted” (153). This last bit came to me almost as a shock because it seemed to me that all I have been doing is to get to that point, but, I realized, not past it. In other words, I was going deep enough. This realization made me want to go back to my old stories and really get to that depth she is talking about, because I think I have an inkling of what she’s talking about and I have a few stories that I can see going deeper with. So perhaps the biggest gain from reading Mystery and Manners is that it made me want to approach the revision process with a whole lot more artistic rigor and vision....more
Reading Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer the second time was a very different experience from reading it four yeaBetter the second time around--
Reading Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer the second time was a very different experience from reading it four years ago when I didn’t know much about the craft of writing. When I read it the first time, I didn’t find the book to be of any practical value. As a beginning writer, her assertions like “there are no general rules, only individual examples to help point you in a direction in which you might want to go,” only confused me and I didn’t know what to take away from the examples she gave. If there were no rules, I thought, what was she trying to say with those examples? When she says, “if a gesture is not illuminating, simply leave it out…” (229), isn’t that a rule?
It didn’t really help that I had no good grasp of “rules” of fiction. I was working on my first novel on my own and had no idea what “craft” there was other than obscure vocabulary and niceties of arcane grammar. So I put down the book thinking I gained no useful insight from reading it, as my one-sentence review from that time reads: “Doesn’t say much…”
Now that I’m wiser, though, I can see what Prose is saying. I do see the benefit of reading works of the masters closely and learning from them. I do believe that the “rules” can be broken and reading widely shows us colorful ways to do that. And I actually understand and am impressed by the examples Prose cites.
But I object to Prose’s insistence that “literature not only breaks the rules, but makes us realize that there are none” (250). Because contrary to her repeated claims, there are rules in fiction for engaging the reader more effectively. There are rules simply because certain things work better to immerse us in the world of stories. Whether it’s due to our physiology—our brains are wired to prefer concrete images over abstract ones and pay attention to conflict—or social—as in life we like quirky or strong-willed characters in fiction over weak, passive characters—isn’t important. What is important is that there are rules—or principles—for engaging the reader better.
I do, however, believe that blindingly sticking to the rules can be detrimental to the writer’s growth. When the writer knows why certain rules are taught and is conscious of the reasons behind them, the writer is in a much better position, because he or she can break them at will to produce certain effects. And that is why, ideally, these rules should be taught as conditionals (“if…then…” statements) and not as imperatives. So instead of “give a motive to the main character,” it should be “if you want to make the story engaging, give a motive to the main character.” If you are not interested in writing an engaging story, you’re of course free to break it. Or if you’re interested in making a point about something by not give a motive, then by all means break it with the knowledge that it’d probably make for a little bit less engaging read. The point is these conditional rules are by nature for a specific purpose, and if they don’t serve the needs of the writer, they should be ignored. Prose mainly cites Chekhov’s stories to conclude that there are no rules in literature, but all Chekhov proves, contra Prose, is that he had different goals in mind when it came to his stories: “Artistic literature is called so because it depicts life as it really is. Its aim is truth—unconditional and honest.” And this is only one view of literature. Other writers may have different philosophies and write differently than Chekhov. One could easily imagine a writer who does not break the rules of fiction while making a unique point in his or her stories. In other words, Chekhov broke rules for a reason, and that does not prove there are no rules.
In her uncritical adoration of Chekhov, Prose seems to fall victim to precisely the kind of blindness she urges us to fend against: she assumes everyone should subscribe to Chekhov’s philosophy of literature. For example, she offers one of Chekhov’s stories to make the following claim about motivation: “ the bottom line of the fiction workshop is motivation… all this is based on the comforting supposition that things, in fiction as in life, are done for a reason.” Or about change: “The point is that lives go on without change, so why should fiction insist that major reverses should always, conveniently, occur?” In these instances, she is presupposing Chekhov’s philosophy of literature—that it should depict life as it really is—and doesn’t realize that fiction “insists” on certain things like motivation and change because it doesn’t want to depict life as it is, because not everyone subscribes to Chekhov’s view of literature. We focus on motivation and change in the workshop because stories with those elements tend to be more engaging to read, and they are important to bring up so the student writers can learn them and make their stories as engaging as possible if that’s what they want. But Chekhov wasn’t interested in simply telling an engaging story; he wanted to depict life as it really is, and for that purpose, he chose to ignore the rules of good storytelling.
So whenever Prose makes an assertion about there being no rules, I take her to mean that there are no hard-and-fast rules, that a good writer should be cognizant of the reasons behind those rules. Otherwise, telling a beginning writer that there are no rules is misleading and ultimately confusing (as it did for me). Just as a practitioner of martial arts masters the art by learning the rules first, so do writers. The conditional rules of good storytelling and good writing must be learned first before one can break them effectively. The danger here lies in learning them blindly without keeping in mind that they are conditional rules, and not categorical imperatives.
All in all, while I agree wholeheartedly with Prose’s insistence to read like a writer, her conclusions about literature and rules of fiction are skewed by her uncritical espousal of Chekhov and potentially misleading. If anything, literature tells us not that rules don’t exist, but that these rules are malleable and can be broken effectively in a variety of fascinating ways....more
The book does give some useful tips for allowing creativity to happen, but there's nothing really new or surprising in here. Maybe a few grunt-inMeh--
The book does give some useful tips for allowing creativity to happen, but there's nothing really new or surprising in here. Maybe a few grunt-inducing points, and that's it.
It almost feels as though the author compiled everything he heard and regurgitated it. The effect is you'll probably put this book down (or finish listening) feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tips. Though the author bills this as a "system," it's important to realize that "systems" and "processes" are very much left-brain lingo, and I kept wondering if boxing creativity in "a proven system" is an effective frame to look at it. In other words, can we impose order where there's none?
Yes, some tips might help the probability of creative thoughts happening, but to call the hodgepodge of ideas a "system" is very much misleading.
Some good stuff, but offset by information overload = meh....more
At first I thought it was just too weird—is it an essay? A meditation? A diatribe? Or poetry?—and was frustrated at times by the metaphysical andGood!
At first I thought it was just too weird—is it an essay? A meditation? A diatribe? Or poetry?—and was frustrated at times by the metaphysical and abstract bent of his writing in the beginning, but after finishing the book, I must say I enjoyed what the book has to say about the creative process, the imagination, and poetry (or any creative work for that matter). The weird style in which it's written, too, is just another "reckless" way the author challenges convention and his writing is assertive, powerful, and poetic to say the least.
It made me think about art in a different way, and I'm glad I read it.
I loved his no-nonsense straightforwardness in his views about creative writing and his teaching philosophy resonated with mine: “Every moment, IGood!
I loved his no-nonsense straightforwardness in his views about creative writing and his teaching philosophy resonated with mine: “Every moment, I am, without wanting or trying to, telling you to write like me. But I hope you learn to write like you.”
His pointers on poetry are also illuminating, and I learned a lot from him.
A good book, thought he last two chapters had little to do with writing or poetry.
Trevor is an old-school. His tales are told in this very old-fashioned storytelling mode that asks patience inA mix of Joyce's Dubliners and Chekhov--
Trevor is an old-school. His tales are told in this very old-fashioned storytelling mode that asks patience in the reader and plods along at a leisurely pace. They do, however, throw light on the dark nooks and crannies of the human experience I have not seen written about.
Some tales really bored me to death, but there were some gems in there. My favorites were "A Friendship," "Child's Play," "Lost Ground," "A Day," and finally, "Marrying Damian."
In "A Friendship," two best friends must say goodbye because one helps the other cheat on her husband. In "Child's Play," two children, after surviving their parents' divorces, mimic their dramas. In "Lost Ground," a Protestant boy believes he meets a Catholic saint and feels compelled to preach, to the utter embarrassment of his family. In "A Day," an infertile wife suffers from her own thoughts about her husband's love affair. And in "Marrying Damian," husband and wife welcomes their childhood prodigal friend, Damian, only to see their own daughter hit it off with him.
All tell of personal tragedies in everyday life, and if you can stand his old-fashioned style—of long descriptions of characters and slow beginnings and unnecessary meanderings—this might be an interesting read.
Some juicy, descriptive passages here, and poems that are relatively easy to understand.
Not a regular reader of contemporary poetry, I did enjoyGood--
Some juicy, descriptive passages here, and poems that are relatively easy to understand.
Not a regular reader of contemporary poetry, I did enjoy the poems in this collection, though I can't claim I understood everything or liked all of them. But poetry, I think, can be enjoyed without getting the "meaning"; instead, one can read poems hopping from one good image to another....more
The book combines the findings of Carow Dweck (fixed vs. growth mindCool concept, not very detailed--
The book's concepts are all cool and interesting.
The book combines the findings of Carow Dweck (fixed vs. growth mindsets), Eric von Hippel (active users and innovation), Csikszentmihalyi (problem finders vs. problem solvers), Richard Wiseman (being open to experiences increases your luck), and other research and innovations in psychology, economics, and business.
The concept of little bets is basically this: creative things emerge from random, non-linear, unpredictable processes, and so experimenting with something is crucial in coming up with something creative. It is, as Ed Catmull at Pixar says, "going from suck to non-suck." The original idea may suck, but through other people's input, you can make it into something "non-suck," and that takes a lot of openness, playfulness, and determination to fail quickly to learn faster.
Other cool things to be learned from this book include:
-ask if you can afford it, not if you can profit from it -"smallify" problems and add constraints to boost creativity -learn little from a lot to increase your luck
But the central problem with this book is that it seems to lack elaboration and applications of the concept of little bets. I was left a little dissatisfied with the contents, though I found the concepts covered very interesting.
Overall, an interesting read that would've been satisfactory with a little more elaboration. ...more
Reminded me of Gabriel Rico's Writing the Natural Way minus all the convincing (and old?) scientific background. One practical thing I took awayGood--
Reminded me of Gabriel Rico's Writing the Natural Way minus all the convincing (and old?) scientific background. One practical thing I took away from this is the power of doodling, which Rico also mentions in her book. Another is her simple exercise that may be useful in teaching creative writing.
Anyways, I'll probably try writing by hand and see how that experience is different from banging away on a computer. I do think Barry has a point when she says that we should write slowly and that typing is a monotonous activity for the fingers whereas writing gives your brain differing stimuli.
Thought it was weird at first what with all the metaphysical questions (why write? what's an image? etc.), but got very practical and engaging once she began her childhood story and got into her "lessons."