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Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire
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Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  214 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In this groundbreaking work of ecstatic criticism, Carole Maso shows why she has risen, over the past fifteen years, as one of the brightest stars in the literary firmament. Ever refusing to be marginalized or categorized by genre, Maso is an incisive, compassionate writer who deems herself daughter of William Carlos Williams, a pioneer in combining poetry and fiction with ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 14th 2000 by Counterpoint
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Fittingly, this collection of essays doesn't fit into any one genre. Some pieces are autobiographical, some Maso's discussion of her approaches to writing some of her books. One essay takes the form of an homage to Getrude Stein. All the pieces, in one way or another, serve as Maso's call for action for experimental writers to break apart accepted forms, structures and devices and recover their joy in writing and language. Maso connects literary freedom with social freedom, which, in 2018, reads ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Imagine a world.... which Carole Maso's (not only her Emancipatory Fiction being broadly and widely read but) her book on writing, Break Every Rule, had a gr=score of 159,036 Ratings :: 12,419 Reviews instead of Stephen King's thing.

Not only our literary world would look different more broad more diverse more inventive more imaginative more just more free but so too would our political world.
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-holy-ones
A must-read for any writer who has had it with the drab and soulless minimalism of 'New Yorker' style stories and fiction... This is the book I pick up when I need reasons to go on writing; this book is my bible.
Nov 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
Required reading for my fiction writing class. That puzzled me because it wasn't fiction and it didn't emphasize writing very heavily. It was more like an autobiography of a rather upset lesbian with a grudge and a voice. And she is entitled to her voice. But I told the professor that the material was offensive and didn't seem pertinent to what I thought this class was about. Some of the material was, but I simply asked if it was truly the best choice for reading material in a fiction writing cl ...more
Melanie Sweeney Bowen
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This isn't really a craft book or a memoir or a book of poetry, but like Maso's fiction, it is a hybrid of all these genres. As a writer, I found it interesting to see the author behind the books, though it turns out she's not so veiled by her fiction as I originally thought. Writers struggling to be recognized or to have their departures from the mainstream validated should definitely read this book. Those who are a part of the mainstream should also read it, especially the last essay, and cons ...more
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is an old favorite. I recommend it to anyone looking to be inspired. Especially inspired by language. For sure read the last chapter: "Rupture, Verge, and Precipice. Precipice, Verge, and Hurt Not"
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've re-read these essays many times. I can't remember when I first read it, perhaps in the year 2000. When I was writing my second master's thesis, I re-read it in its entirety, and as always, it was an enormous inspiration.
Kristen Ringman
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
wonderful meditations and opinions about writing, merging poetry and fiction, BREAKING RULES OH YES!
Doug Rice
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the smartest books on how language works in writing fiction, in seeing into the world. Maso's book performs the theory as she discusses her theory of the craft of writing.
Betsy Phillips
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is fantastic, and contains an essay that basically changed my life.
Joyful Grapes
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, & Moments of Desire changed my life. It is a book I will return to again and again. Carole Maso's essays are moving, ecstatic, everlastingly visionary. They extend beyond themselves in a way I have not encountered since first reading them in my senior year of college. They are their own gorgeous beings--pulsing, exquisite roses, wild and breathless offerings. The collection is best described as Carole describes language: "vibrant, irresistible, ...more
Tank Green
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory
i'm not sure i've ever been this disappointed by a book. i actually feel quite upset by the ways in which i feel let down by it/her, which is a strange thing to say, i know.

the "except joy" essay was great and "the re-introduction of color" okay, but the rest..? self-indulgent, disconnected and unwise.
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was my introduction to Carole Maso. Turns out I'm not a big fan. While the introduction kept me going, I couldn't get into the rest of the essays. I can't tell if I think she's not a good stylist or if I just don't like the style.
May 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Chock-full and choked with criticism that is neither constructive nor cathartic.
Reading this book to encourage my writing students to jump out of their box. What box? There is no box, Maso sounds like she knows that.
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Carole Maso is a contemporary American novelist and essayist, known for her experimental, poetic and fragmentary narratives often labeled as postmodern. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College in 1977. Her first published novel was Ghost Dance, which appeared in 1986. Her best known novel is probably Defiance, which was published in 1998. Currently (2006) she is a professor ...more
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