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Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  228 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy,
I have a hot crush on the em dash. What does my need to stuff—while simultaneously fracturing—my sentences—with the meandering, the explanatory, the discursive, the perhaps not-entirely-necessary—say about me?  
—Cheryl Strayed

Have you ever wished there were an advice columnist for writers, but one who didn’t take things so damned seriously? Thi
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Ten Speed Press
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Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Meh. This was supposed to be an amusing writer's guide, with Q&A about the quirks of writing, but I didn't find it particularly funny or helpful. Maybe you will like it more.
Diane S ☔
Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Clever , witty and somewhat entertaining. A few known authors write in with questions as well as others. Dinty makes a clever, ironic reply and then proceeds to write an essay as an example to his reply. Hard to do, I think. But alas, became a little less funny at the end, think it was a good idea to keep this short.
Kritika Narula
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed at So many Books, So little time
Disclaimer: The tone and candour of my review is inspired from the writer's in the book. No offence meant.
How can you read non-fiction like this and not fall in love with the genre? The whole genre owes you, sir. Or to your humor. I am not sure if we can separate the two, would you answer that for me.
Well, for starters you know you will fall into this book as soon as it opens because of well, this:

Hilarity ensues from page one. To say that th
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This book surfaced on a list of newly-released nonfiction sent to me either by my local public library or Goodreads. Being on a nonfiction kick lately (primarily celebrity memoirs), I was intrigued by the book's premise. Moore, an essayist/author I am not familiar with, solicited questions from popular essayists to discuss various aspects of writing. Considering the description included a question from Cheryl Strayed, an author whose writing I've thoroughly enjoyed, I thought this series of essa ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Wry and sarcastic, Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is a delightful book to have on your shelf--even if you're not a writer. Filled with questions about em-dashes, Facebook, Zebras, cocktail napkins, and polar bears, to name a few, Moore responds with essays in a myriad of forms, which will delight readers.

I really enjoyed the blend of humor and helpful that Moore employed throughout his answers. Even his illustrations sprinkled throughout the book tie into the questions he's asked to answer; polar
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Until about halfway done, the book was good. Not great in any sense, but it was funny and interesting to see how weird the questions could be, and how the responses and the essays left them in the dust when it came to weirdness. I loved the formatting (as a big fan of Courier New) and the interior design looked gorgeous.

Like I said, until about halfway done.

After that, it got boring. The questions got boring, the replies got boring, the essays were the most boring of all. This is a 208-page book
Sep 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Forty percent done – no laughs, no known names, no interest – bar some unusual essay formats and constructions, and changes in line length (wow!). It might be a North America-only thing, but for me this never travelled beyond the author's own ego, let alone across the Atlantic. You know those essays where Woody Allen spurts a whole load of Yiddish nobody outside ten blocks of New York could ever understand? Yup, I almost understood the appeal of those more.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

Moore answers questions from other writers on advice for writing. After answering their questions, Moore then writes an essay to accompany that question. This is definitely not a dry how-to-guide. Moore has a wry and sarcastic sense of humour but it does wear on you sometimes as it is too in your face. It wasn't a book for me but it is well-written.

Nov 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I'm finished already. I didn't find it particularly amusing or edifying. There was little here.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
It was fun and wholly interesting at the beginning. I was really really enjoying myself. But then it eventually bored me.
Antoinette Perez
Cute and clever. Which I guess is what it was supposed to be.
Melissa Grunow
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you owned all of the self-help/advice books for writers by writers, your neighbors would probably call the fire department and report you for hording. Because nobody wants book-loving to be perceived as a threat to public health, you have to make choices as to which books to buy, keep, and continually reference each time you feel a little blocked, a little frustrated, a little inadequate, or a little in need of a serving of humble pie.

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Wr
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, arc
Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is a delightful little book offering writing tips for essayists and other creative nonfiction writers. Famous contemporary authors pose questions about the art of the essay, the craft of writing, and the finer points of grammar. Dinty W. Moore replies in the vein of an advice columnist, answering questions and following with a short essay of his own. The graphic design of the book is also very appealing. Moore includes cartoon drawings, maps and a clever Essay Topic ...more
I picked this up on a whim from my library. The display was for books with no check out history, and I'm a sucker for lonely books.

This has been my companion for the last two evenings. We've spent much of our time together giggling, or at least smirking. On a couple of occasions a stray remark left me smacking my forehead in stupid disbelief- once I was caught so off guard I walked away. But I'm happier for having read this collection.
Aug 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: humor fans, writers of all types
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was hilarious. Set in a question and answer format, the author answers letters written to him regarding writing. Most of it pertains to non-fiction writing, but anyone can learn a few things by reading this book.

A delightful little page Turner that I read in an afternoon.
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing, essays
Entertaining and sometimes pretty silly. In addition to the fun, I learned some things - like what the three different kinds of dashes are - I use them all, but didn't know the names or history, so found this enlightening. Even the Introduction and About the Author mini-essays are quite entertaining. I now see that I need to check out Montaigne's essays, though I'm betting he won't make me laugh as much as Dinty Moore does.

P.S. And there are pictures!
Roland Martinez
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty cute. Dinty's style is a little folksy for me but overall I liked the book. Some of the essays were very creative and there were some great ones on writing and reading. I'd read more Dinty Moore.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-writing
A quick fun read; I laughed out loud along the way. Dinty's humorous style is brilliant and engaging. You'll read it thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?" The reason: he's way funnier and brilliant than I am! Bonus: there are writing tips throughout.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny...funnier...funniest. Most fun.

Quite a ride through the sarcastic and very humorous mind of a writer who approves the topic of writing like Dave Barry approaches everyday life.
May 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Guess I just didn't get it.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I tried to "grove" on this book. Even struggling I found the whole book to be a waste of my time. After trying a few chapters I focused in on one chapter which discussed memoirs. Why? Because that is what I am writing at the current time. It was a well-written, good, memoir. For this one chapter I am grateful. For the rest not so much. This book came in one day and is leaving the same day. It's structure didn't turn me on. It's a Q&A except the Q's are stupid and corny. Maybe that was the wa ...more
Angie Fehl
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you consider yourself any sort of grammar nerd, struggling writer, English teacher, linguistics lover, etc., I'd say you're bound to have a pretty good time with this book. I myself took a look at it largely because I feel like I pretty much came out of the womb a struggling writer / creative sort, so I eat this kind of stuff up. My favorite type of learning is when someone can teach you something useful through fun and laughter and Moore's book does not disappoint. Not only are there grammar ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is humorous, thoughtful, ironic and satirical. It's *about* writing, but kind of covers life, the universe, and everything.
P.J. Lazos
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dinty W. Moore’s new book, Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy, Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals, is a droll, delicious exposé of the inner workings of Moore’s mind. Oh, and it’s a writing tutorial as well, although not in the instructional sense —- commas here, apostrophes there, watch those dangling participles —- but in the classic show don’t tell sense. Moore shows you how to write the most sublime essays in answer to questions posed by contemporary essay writers —- questions ...more
Heather Rochon
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: heather-reviews
“The difference between a story and an essay is that the storyteller just wants to entertain the reader, while the essayist has been to graduate school.”

Of the above quote, both statements ring true when Mister Essay Writer Guy is involved. Mr. Essay Writer Guy himself, Dinty W. Moore, has penned the ultimate not-so-helpful self-help book for writers. The advice guide is both an entertaining story and scholarly essay.

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cann
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes to read about the craft of writing
I'm the most annoying kind of writer--the kind of writer that thinks about writing all the time but never actually writes anything. I love to read about writing, which is why I requested a review copy of Dinty W. Moore's Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy. (Two things: Sorry, Blogging for Books, for taking so long! And also, sorry, Mr. Moore, I'd never heard of you before reading this book...) It seemed like a fun book and I totally was judging this book by its cover when I hit the request button. I f ...more
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
For most non-writers, the essay is something they did reluctantly and poorly back in the fifth grade.

But in Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy, author Dinty Moore takes the genre of the essay to the next level.

Through a number of essays responding to letters, he demonstrates how essays can be simultaneously creative, funny, interesting, sarcastic, sad, personal and manic.

Think of it as Dear Abby meets Dave Barry.

I'm not usually a fan of nonfiction, but Moore proves that you can cover a wide range and
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked this out from Blogging for Books (free book in exchange for review), although I was not familiar with the writer Dinty W. Moore. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the essayist is actually named Dinty W. Moore, not after the Canadian hockey player (or the corned beef sandwich) but after a character in the comic strip 'Bringing Up Father.' That makes him sound ancient, but he is in fact a Baby Boomer, a few years younger than my parents.

Moore won me over early in this essay collection, with
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I like the size, cover, pages, writing style and illustrations. The book tackles some questions about writing that are sent to the author. He answers them in a fun way with a humorous tone. I smiled most of the time that I was reading it. I love that I was enjoying reading and actually learning things at the same time. I learned more about writing essays and writing in general.

In one part of the book, the author mentions interviewing people for a teaching job and he m
Richard Gilbert
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here Dinty Moore plays both straight man and humorist: he answers questioners, most of whom pose ridiculous conundrums, and then he writes an essay in response. The pervasive exaggeration, deft timing, absurd queries, and Moore’s addled answers and wry follow-up essays make this book hilarious, a sustained comedic performance. But it also glimmers with wisdom concerning life and the creation of art.

To state the obvious: Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy borrows a structure, that of the advice columni
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Dinty W. Moore is the author of numerous books, and has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse. He edits BREVITY, the journal of concise creative nonfiction ( and teaches at Ohio University.
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“The idea that students don't know how to write clearly and precisely is as old as school itself, probably, but lately it seems as if students no longer know how to read either. It is true on my campus and from I can gather, on many other college campuses. The students understand words, sentences -- they are not illiterate -- but they don't seem to grasp the reasons for reading. They seem baffled when asked to take two thoughts, connect them, and form something new. They read James Baldwin or Henry David Thoreau and their primary reaction seems to be, "Okay, now I've ready that. I'm done." As if the only goal in reading was to have looked at every word.” 1 likes
“The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. —THOMAS PAINE” 0 likes
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