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Attack of the Copula Spiders: Essays on Writing

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  85 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews

“Glover is a master of narrative structure.”
—Wall Street Journal

In the tradition of E.M. Forster, John Gardner, and James Wood, Douglas Glover has produced a book on writing at once erudite, anecdotal, instructive, and amusing. Attack of the Copula Spiders represents the accumulated wisdom of a remarkable literary career: no
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Biblioasis
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May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Best book on writing and reading since David Jauss' Alone With All That Can Happen. Highly recommended for serious writers and readers.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I bought this book for its essays on how to write. Having finished those, I'm as close to finished as I'm ever likely to be, so my comments are on those essays (mainly "How to Write a Novel," "Attack of the Copula Spiders," and "The Drama of Grammar").

The author is an insightful guy. There are a few great nuggets of wisdom here that I was happy to find. However he suffers from a malady common to many good writers -- often they have a good FEEL for how to write, but no scientific thought process
May 26, 2016 added it
Shelves: 2016
The first few essays in this book are some of the best essays that I have read about how to write in recent years. Glover really breaks it down and talks about craft- sentence structure, image patterning, language and the power of verbs. It was a master class. I would recommend that everyone who teaches writing read these essays. These are not essays for the beginning writer, but for someone who has moved beyond the position of novice.

After these first few essays, Glover then turns to discussing
John Hanson
Is pulp fiction a complete bore? Is most literary fiction a letdown? Can you feel Alice Munro or Rawi Hage's incredible imagery and not have a clue how they do it? Do you believe there is more to the advice that sounds like "use active verbs," "vary your sentence length," and "either advance your story or your characters?" Do you believe there are secrets to writing well, secrets that can be learned?

Then this book is for you.

Read is essay "The Novel Is A Poem" first. If it intrigues you, then r
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The best book on writing that I've read and I've probably read them all. Glover is not overly
prescriptive but provides practical craft instruction for stories and novels. His aim is to teach writers to read as writers, to encourage student writers to master the subtleties of English grammar and usage, and to show basic structures that underlie most fiction. He is a brilliant teacher and a brilliant writer who now offers unique and useful info on writing.
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's refreshing to see an emphasis on close reading and the possibilities opened up by small choices at the sentence- and word-level.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada, essays
My house is huge. Viewed from the outside, I suppose it occupies pretty much the same space as any other ordinary house but what is not readily apparent, from the outside or from within, is the number of people it actually houses. Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. Authors all. Well, all except me. But that's just a matter of time. Almost everyone I've ever read lives at my house, my all-time favourites (Margarets Atwood and Laurence, Alice Munro) following me about from room to room, competing for ...more
Clark Knowles
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Excellent book, especially the first four essays. The remainder of the book concerns specific stories or authors, a little tough for me because I hadn't read any of them. I might return to those essays if I read those selections. The craft essays are excellent, but also seem to be for writers who are already working/thinking of themselves as writers. Or at least wanting to write. I think I'd struggle bringing much of this to my Intermediate Fiction courses where I don't feel I teach writing so m ...more
Julia Brown
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
My initial impressions of Attack of the Copula Spiders was that the book was too prescriptive.

But, the more I read, the more I realized how fantastic its prescriptions are! Glover gives wonderful, nuts-and-bolts suggestions here for improving the quality of story drafts. He even offers and exercise for building a draft from scratch.

I'll be an MFA student in the fall, and Glover has impressed upon me that the study of grammar and vocabulary are equal in importance to the study of the writer's cr
William Scott
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: criticism
A terrific collection of essays on writing and reading. Glover outlines why and how good writing works at the atomic level - at the level of the sentence and phrase. Glover - referencing Hegel, Wittgenstein, Kant, and Canadian neuroscientist Merlin Donald - deftly handles how writing and story-telling shape our communal and individual realities. Standouts in my opinion are "The Mind of Alice Munro," "A Scrupulous Fidelity (on Thomas Bernhard's The Loser")" and "Before/After History and the Novel ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I believe this book would be excellent for aspiring writers of fiction. For those of us to whom fiction is an occasional diversion from life and a quest to understand reality, the book is still a window into how modern fiction is or can be done. I enjoyed the first 5 chapters and the last one. Those on more experimental novelists Jarman, Nooteboom, Rooke, Bernhard, and Rulfo, are entirely skippable in my opinion - I read enough of each to be sure that I would not want to read those authors.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a handy little collection of essays, but not all of them are focused on writing. The second half of the book takes a turn toward the overly philosophic and tends to focus on specific works of literature. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but the first five essays were probably the most relevant to writer's craft and to my own understanding of fiction.
Geoff Wyss
Aug 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
A pretty thorough disappointment. Got drawn into this one by his chapter on Thomas Bernhard, which had a few nice observations, but there wasn't much else in the book that I could recommend. Should have known I was in trouble when the first two chapters were called "How To Write a Novel" and "How To Write a Short Story"--and those chapter titles aren't ironic.
May 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
That's the trouble with a compilation of essays previously published. When you compile them, they are blatantly repetitive.

The first half of the book is fine. Then you land in a bit too much MFA land for me and I get lost in the "art."

The advantage of being away from great piles of books is, you're forced to read what you have at hand. So I finished the book versus stalling out near the end.
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Really interesting, esp the first few chapters. Helped me think about writing in a new way.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this as one would read a textbook. Useful. Sometimes surprising. At times grim. This book made me think about how I write but much more about how I read. I will reread.
Isaac Hooke
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Didn't get to finish this since I had it out from the library, but definitely loved the chapters dedicated to writing.
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent little book full of thought-provoking material as well as practical advice on structure, analysis and characterization. Loved this book. Will be one I return to often.
Michael Bryson
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Mar 31, 2013
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Nov 08, 2012
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Douglas Glover worked in the newsrooms of daily papers in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec, before publishing Precious in 1984. His byline later appeared in the book pages of The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe.

He is the author of two works of literary criticism, including The Enamoured Knight, a recent book on Don
More about Douglas Glover...