Manfred's Reviews > Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

Magic Hours by Tom Bissell
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's review
Apr 19, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

A bit of an inconsistent collection, if only because all the pieces were written over 12 years for different magazines and different audiences. The piece about Jeff Daniels's opus "Escanaba in da Moonlight" has a predictable "kick your hometown in the nuts" sort of feel but Bissell can turn a phrase masterfully and keeps it interesting. My favorite chapter is the one called "Writing About Writing About Writing" where he takes various self-help authors to the woodshed in a masterfully bitchy way. There are other outstanding long essays involving people like Jim Harrison and Robert Kaplan, who Bissell fairly convincingly prosecutes for being both a shitty writer and a cold-hearted warmonger. Even the bits of literary criticism are worthy, although after a re-read I still can't figure out whether he thinks "The Sun Also Rises" is a good book or not. He obviously takes writing seriously but isn't humorless about its rewards and depressions as either a career or a hobby or a passion or an art form open to interpretation.

There were a couple misfires for me. Reading about Tommy Wiseau did not interest me enough to bother to learn anything else about Tommy Wiseau. And Chuck Lorre is just another Hollywood workaholic I still could care less about. But on balance this is a fine collection with many strong pages I wish I had written.
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Matthew I could care less about Chuck Lorre as well. However, I think his writing makes you enjoy the piece despite this. Honestly, its only been a couple of weeks since I read this, and I've already forgotten who Tommy Wiseau is, so thats spot on.

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