Rhonda Browning White's Reviews > The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
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's review
Jul 25, 2011

it was ok
Read in September, 2011

In a nutshell, I didn't care for this book, and I can't recommend it. Okay . . . I would perhaps recommend it to someone who wants to think of (not about) writing, but doesn't really want to write. I'd hoped to find this a craft book that would provide inspiration and a solid writing foundation, but instead was repelled by his "preaching" technique of instruction.

The book is broken into two parts, the first of which is little more than Gardner's pompous rhetoric on what constitues "real writing" as opposed to all kinds of genre fiction that he considers drivel. I found a few useful one-line suggestions in this first section, but it certainly wasn't worth it to me to plow through the tedium to find them. If this hadn't been a study assignment, I'd have chucked the book in the first chapter.

The second part of the book offered a little bit of redeeming instruction, though it was dry and clinical. I found Gardner's instruction to be more binding than inspirational, and I'm so glad I didn't read this book earlier in my writing career, othewise, I may have given up writing altogether.

If you want to read an excellent fiction craft book, I'd instead recommend "The Lie that Tells a Truth" by John Dufresne. I've been reading it for ages, and I'm still not finished, because it's so good I keep re-reading chapters and working on the dozens of exercises throughout.


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07/27/2011 page 46
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