By Jane Smiley
Over a unprecedented twenty-year profession, Jane Smiley has written every kind of novels: secret, comedy, ancient fiction, epic. “Is there something Jane Smiley can't do?” raves Time magazine. yet within the wake of Sept. 11, Smiley faltered in her hitherto unflagging impulse to jot down and determined to strategy novels from a unique attitude: she learn 100 of them, from classics similar to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fresh fiction by way of Zadie Smith, Nicholson Baker, and Alice Munro.
Smiley explores–as no novelist has earlier than her–the remarkable intimacy of examining, why a unique succeeds (or doesn’t), and the way the radical has replaced over the years. She describes a novelist as “right at the cusp among a person who is aware every little thing and somebody who is familiar with nothing,” but whose “job and ambition is to strengthen a idea of ways it feels to be alive.”
In her inimitable style–exuberant, candid, opinionated–Smiley invitations us behind the curtain of novel-writing, sharing her personal behavior and spilling the secrets and techniques of her craft. She walks us step by step throughout the ebook of her latest novel, Good religion, and, in important chapters on how you can write “a novel of your own,” deals precious recommendation to aspiring authors.
Thirteen methods of taking a look at the unconventional may quantity to a unusual kind of autobiography. We see Smiley analyzing in mattress with a chocolate bar; mulling over plot twists whereas cooking dinner for her family members; even, on the age of twelve, devouring Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which she later learned have been between her earliest literary types for plot and character.
And in an exciting end, Smiley considers separately the single hundred books she learn, from Don Quixote to Lolita to Atonement, presenting her personal insights and sometimes debatable opinions. In its scope and gleeful eclecticism, her analyzing record is likely one of the such a lot compelling–and surprising–ever assembled.
Engaging, clever, occasionally irreverent, Thirteen Ways is key interpreting for an individual who has ever escaped into the pages of a singular or, for that subject, desired to write one. In Smiley’s personal phrases, ones she came across herself turning to over the process her trip: “Read this. I wager you’ll like it.”
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Extra info for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
He is the paradigm of the aspiring novelist who for whatever reason is deprived of a model and a mentor, and has to make it up himself. Cervantes's strangely modern career as a novelist is evident in the differences between the two volumes of his novel, which were published some ten years apart. In volume i, Quixote, inversely mirroring the career of his creator, perhaps, has his head turned by reading too many romances of chivalry, and at an WHO IS A N O V E L I S T ? j 9 advanced age, leaves his impoverished estate and his sedentary pursuits to go out into the world to protect the virtuous and preserve the unfortunate.
I had not then read any real novels. I had heard it said that George Sand was a typical novelist. That had prepared me in advance to imagine that François le Champi contained something inexpressibly delicious. -MARCEL PROUST, Swann's Way A novel has an author. The desire to write a novel is the single / \ required prerequisite for writing a novel. It is the only thing / \that overcomes all the handicaps—perfectionism, low selfesteem, depression, alcoholism, diseases of all kinds, immense riches, economic hardship, deadly enemies, the resistance of relatives and friends, laziness, retarded professional development, the regular responsibilities of adulthood, even imprisonment (Sir Thomas Malory, for example, wrote the romance/protonovel Le Morte d'Arthur while imprisoned during the Wars of the Roses).
He or she cannnot be understood at all apart from this. I once asked a woman mathematician whether it was true that math talent went with the Y chromosome, a tendency to allergies, lack of social skills, and left-handedness. She told me that she didn't think so, but that the large population of left-handed male mathematicians with allergies felt most comfortable with their own sort because they had no social skills, so it was a self-selecting profession. Novelists are selfselecting in a similar way.