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The Novel

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  2,137 ratings  ·  213 reviews
In this riveting novel, James A. Michener, America's preeminent bestselling author, plunges us into the exciting world he knows so well: the world of books. Here is the fascinating story of a writer, editor, critic, and reader locked in a desperate scenario of life, death, love and truth.

Lukas Yoder, a novelist who has had a long, successful career, has written what he bel
Mass Market Paperback, US / Canada, 448 pages
Published July 20th 1992 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1991)
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,137 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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C.L. Hoang
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is quite a departure from the "standard" Michener novel: it's contemporary instead of historical, and it has an autobiographical feel to it rather than being the usual sweeping epic Michener was famous for. It presents a road map of the birth of a book from concept to manuscript to final product, as seen from the perspectives of all the people involved: the writer, the editor, the critic, the reader. Since I'm a writer myself, "The Novel" definitely grabs my interest and holds it becau ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary

THE NOVEL has 4 parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic, and The Reader. Loosely, it follows the development of what may be the final novel of an esteemed and popular writer who rose through a traditional publishing career.

In the first 2 sections, we follow a novel from a professional, workhorse of a writer, to the hands of the writer's long-time editor. These sections were interesting to me, for Michener addresses issues of the publishing industry such as conglomerate takeovers to the care/f
Nov 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
Somewhere around the page 200 mark, The Novel goes from being mildly entertaining to being downright unpalatable. I'd like to think it's because booger-brained critic Striebert was introduced, but even after skipping through his section, which consisted of Michener masturbating over literature, I still wanted to hurl the book across the room. The only character I found interesting or had any sympathy for at all was the Mennonite oaf, Applebutter. I was hoping Michener would write a spin-off seri ...more
Apryl Anderson
It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything written by an artist. Most everything has been ‘classic’, in other words, outdated bestsellers. In contrast, this was a book by a very hardworking and gifted author.
It was fascinating to read the points-of-view of four different, but interrelated characters. Different in occupation, socio-economic cultural upbringing, experience; but the same in regards to setting and a relationship with a particular author. To go deeper into the author’s purpose i
I don't often go for Michener novels because who has that kind of time? But "The Novel" is a great page-turner of a read. Written in four parts (a la The Sound and the Fury), this inside look at the world of publishing, wrapped around a murder mystery, delivers a lot in only 435 pages.

Of particular interest was the section written by "the critic". His chart of 'The Doomed House of Atreus' and his comments about Erich Auerbach are pretty much spot on and have spurred me on to deepening my reading
Lynn G.
My history with James Michener has been hit or miss. Some of his other books seemed overly long, filled with too much description, shallow characters, or even shallower storylines. From some I gleaned knowledge of people, places, and things that I had known little of previously. However, The Novel struck a chord. Perhaps because I lived in Pennsylvania briefly I felt connected to the characters and setting or maybe The Novel was the right book at the right time. Whatever the reason, I enjoye ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't imagine anyone who loves to read , who is interested or wished they could have been a writer and wants to know what the process of writing takes from its first thought right through to its publishing not liking this book. i was a huge fan of Michener back in the 70,s and starting with THE DRIFTERS ( one of my all time favorite novels) i read probably 8 of his books. i haven't read anything by him for years and decided to read one of his later works, this book being the last one he wrote ...more
Doris Jean
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed "The Novel" and I learned how the author described the writing, the editing, the criticism, and the reading viewpoints. It was a good over-all description of publishing a book from beginning to end.

I think any writer or would-be author would enjoy it for the descriptions of the stages of writing a book.

I think anyone would enjoy it just for the pleasure of following the story. I always like James Michener's stories and I appreciate his research and detail which I always find tru
Pamela Trawick
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, 2009
Debated about rating it higher. Good coverage of books, publishing, and who decides what's a good book. Why should "they" get to decide what everyone else should think is good? That always bugged me as an English major. This book makes you think it through for yourself and decide your criteria and whether or not you're going to be bullied into conforming.
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting insights into the publishing industry but I couldn't get past the first 200 pages. The narrative got so boring I had to give up.
Leslie Wilkins
Oct 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
One of the books Cheryl Strayed deemed important enough to carry on the PCT.
Is it possible to give zero stars? Because this book totally deserves ZERO stars. When will I learn that James A. Michener couldn't write his way out of a paper bag? THIS BOOK SUCKS!

I gave up about halfway through; originally thinking that at least I wanted to find out what happened, but by halfway through, I realized that nothing was going to happen, and furthermore, i didn't give a damn what might happen.

Pretty much no plot, no character development, no through-line, nothing. And the irony is
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is his best novel by far! He does a great study and description of each viewpoint in the literary world: novelist, publisher, critic, reader. And he saves the best for last. I'll buy this one and use it as reference for "The Great Books" of modern history as he casts their seeded names across each section. This fit well with the Hemingway reading I was doing because of the Critic's connection to Ira Pound, the 1930s poet-mentor of so many famous artists. He is important because he committed ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I didn't appreciate this book until reaching the critics section. This is where Michener's genius in characterization comes through as we see him legitimately address problems that his own critics have heaped upon his work. (Namely that he is long winded and overly descriptive).

Michener does not use the critic character to take his revenge, but instead critiques his own writing style very adroitly. I believe that this stands as a work of an aging author to place his past body of work in its pro
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynne Spreen
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Normally, I would love a Michener novel, but this was self-indulgent and boring. "Yoder" reflected the mindset of an elite author whose world revolved around him, and who expected same. The more current reality is that of a writer working with much less support, let alone adulation. I respect what Michener did (I loved Centennial) but I stopped reading at about the 25% mark.
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Michener I've read -- a solid story of the publishing industry from four different perspectives. It kept my attention, and was a decent summer read.
Bryan Schmidt
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it
This is average Michener, but still worthwhile. About a writer's life, which he knew well. I should reread it myself now that I am more active as an author.
David K. Lemons
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Michener is a good writer who attempts historical novels. I find him somewhat laborious to wade through, but he does introduce us to new venues.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
James Michener was a fascinating author in that, for the majority of his works, he always made a particular geographical location the main focus of his books rather than a person or a group of people. We would normally read about all the things - even from before the recorded history of the place - that were indigenous to the particular area. He would usually focus on a family, or a group of individuals that were living in the area, and then tell the tale of the family throughout the proceeding ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first book finished in 2019 and it was terrific!!!
The Novel by James Michener has four parts: The Writer, The Editor, The Critic and The Reader. Each section was so interesting, helped by Michener’s exquisite writing. This author can definitely write a story!!!
Basically, the four parts go into detail about the work required to make and publish a book and who is affected by the book. The Writer was really interesting because I got to the see the mindset of someone in action, writing a story, a
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this book in high school, when it was assigned to me in my senior year English class. In the decade since then, I've read some worse books, but not many. The Novel is split into four parts, with four viewpoint characters: "The Writer," "The Editor," "The Critic," and "The Reader." Of these four, the editor is by far the most interesting and realistic; she's also deeply underserved by her own narrative, which is essentially the story of her constantly giving herself over to terrible men, a ...more
This book was different than most of the Michener books that I have read. It did not start with how the land was formed. Instead, it was about the publishing industry, albeit how it existed in the early 1990s, and how a book is written and published. The characters were all interconnected, but the book was divided into 4 parts, a part featuring the writer, the editor, the critic, and the reader. The setting was the Pennsylvania Dutch country, eerily familiar since I grew up in that area. Some of ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
got about 3/4 way through - boring - kept followed different characters and switched just as one got interested in it - never go to point - quit reading.

In this riveting new novel, James A. Michener, America's preeminent bestselling author, plunges us into the exciting world he knows so well: the world of books. Here is the fascinating story of a writer, editor, critic, and reader locked in a desperate scenario of life, death, love and truth.

Lukas Yoder, a novelist who has had a long, successful
Don Badowski
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an eye opener to what goes on in the business of putting a book together. The focus of the book is on a writer by the name of Lukas Yoder, and his series of books on a subject dear to his heart. He's looked down upon by critics who feel the only serious novels must be written only with other writers and critics in mind. He's loved by his fans and his editor. The snobbery of those unsuccessful but elevated writers show for Yoder is hurtful, but doesn't seem to affect him at all.
A top
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-authors
For the first three parts, Michener is at the mercy of his various and varied characters, which makes for a fascinating, absorbing, expansive story. Unfortunately, the fourth part, which is meant to tie all of them together, feels like the characters are at the mercy of Michener, who doesn't find a satisfactory way to bring them all together. It becomes a slog that's somewhat worth reading because of the further details Michener provides of the publishing world and how people are affected by it ...more
Barbara Owens
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read, with much revealed about the world of writing and publishing, as well as an interesting plot that had me anticipating a few plot twists that never came and several others that did pan out. It also felt, throughout, like an intimate conversation with Michener himself. My only disappointment was that the characters and their relationships with one another were rather flat, and a great deal of the action and dialogue were summarized rather than developed fully. Strong ch ...more
Janet M
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I read this back in 2012. Found a used copy after I saw numerous refs to it in Strayed's book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Looooong book but kept me engaged throughout; I really enjoyed it at the time - especially since it was all about writing a novel and all the relationships and competition involved.
Will have to update this if/when I eventually reread my copy! Who knows; I'm in a different place now and may have a different opinion. I don't rem
Rachel Jerdin
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the Process of Getting a Novel Finished in Novel Form

My friend was reading this book telling me a little about it. I asked her if it started with "In the beginning the earth was a molten ball." She said "No.". So this is the story of a novel, who's involved, what happens with the novel, all the way to the reader. There is a main character for each section and the storyline is about the novel with the interactions of these characters. I'm glad I read it. I have a better sense of how a nov
Barbara Dunham
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was my first venture into James Michener. I had always been intimidated by the formidable length of his novels but this one was considerably shorter than most. I loved it! It followed the process of publishing a fictional novel from beginning to end through it's fictional author, Pennsylvania Dutchman Lukas Yoder. We learn the process from the eyes of author Lukas, then editor Yvonne Marmelle, critic Karl Steibert and finally the many readers. I found the characters to be down to earth ...more
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for t
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