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The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House Paperback – 1 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books; Pap/Com Or edition (1 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979419816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979419812
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 751,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Much more entertaining is The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays From Tin House, which is a pretty fair summary of where actual writing instruction is at these days. Most of the essays originated in writing workshops run by the literary magazine Tin House, and they include advice on sex writing by Steve Almond, on what you can learn from Shakespeare by Margot Livesey, and on revision by Chris Offutt, who compares the process to 'draining the kitchen sink and seeing what's in there, which is usually a mess.'"--Charles McGrath, The New York Times "We get all manner of books on writing around here and they tend to blend together but the offerings from Tin House always stand out. They've just published The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House, which includes terrifically useful essays from the likes of Dorothy Allison, Rick Bass, Aimee Bender, Jim Krusoe, Antonya Nelson and Jim Shepard." --The Elegant Variation "Tin House is an outstanding literary journal that publishes some of today's finest contemporary writing...delightful...beautifully written...thoughtful...outstanding..."--Chuck Leddy, The Writer Magazine "The essays within The Writer's Notebook each offer a fresh perspective on various aspects of the writing craft...features an eclectic list of top shelf contributions each bound together by a pragmatic approach to teaching the craft of writing... If you can't actually attend the workshops, this is probably your next best bet." --Mark Flanagan, About.com "Brilliant stuff, and not at all the hackneyed tired advice you find in so many writing books." --Bookfox.com "What's fabulous is we know of these writers, and here we get to know them better through their lectures and essays. With them, we explore the love/hate relationship a writer has with the mind, the words, the pen, and the reader."--Helen Gallagher, Opensalon.com "These essays can be read for the illumination into the craft of writing, whether you are a reader or a writer." --Mary Jo Anderson, The Chronicle Herald "As importantly, almost any subject is good reading in the hands of a talented writer. And believe me...these are fine writers." --Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News "There is enough variety that you are sure to find several kindred souls. The Tin House editors do a great job of gathering an eccentric mix of talented writers and essay subjects." --Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times "The essays are a fascinating look at the writing process by an eclectic group of writers...covering enough ground to offer something of interest to anyone fascinates by the process of writing...I found the discussions both illuminating and inspiring and I recommend the book to anyone interested in writing."--Blogcritics.org

About the Author

Aimee Bender is the author of three books, the most recent being the short story collection Willful Creatures. Her short fiction has been published in Harper's, Granta, Tin House, GQ, the Paris Review, and others, as well as heard on PRI's This American Life. She teaches creative writing at USC and lives in Los Angeles. Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the non-fiction book Candyfreak, the novel Which Brings Me to You, co-written with Julianna Baggott, and most recently the collection of essays Not That You Asked: Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions. He lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine. Susan Bell is author of The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself (W.W. Norton & Co. 2007), and co-author with Mayor Jason West of Dare to Hope: Saving American Democracy, a book of essays on political activism (Miramax, 2005). A former editor at Random House and Conjunctions magazine, she has edited both fiction and nonfiction professionally for twenty years. She has taught a seminar on self-editing in the New School's graduate writing program since 2001. Anna Keesey is a Portland writer and a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the recipient of a Michener/Copernicus award and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Her work has appeared in Grand Street, Double-Take, and Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories series. Chris Offutt is the author of two story collections. Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods, two books of memoir, The Same River Twice and No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home, and the novel The Good Brother. His work has received awards from the Lannan Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whiting Foundation. Offutt has two sons and lives in Iowa City, Iowa. D.A. Powell is the author of Tea (Wesleyan, 1998), Lunch (Wesleyan, 2000) and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004), the latter a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle and the PEN West Literary Awards. Powell is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, fellowships from the NEA and the James Michener Foundation, and awards from the Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Society of America. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He is currently on faculty at the University of San Francisco. Jim Shepard is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X (Knopf, 2004) and two story collections, including most recently Like You'd Understand, Anyway (Knopf, 2007), which was nominated for the National Books Award. Project X won the 20005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper's, McSweeney's, the Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, and Playboy, and he is a columnist on film for the magazine the Believer. He teaches at Williams College and in the Warren Wilson MFA program, and lives in Williamstown with his wife, Karen, two sons, tiny daughter, and some harried and unreliable dogs. Jim Krusoe has written five books of poems, a book of stories, Blood Lake, and two novels, Iceland, published by Dalkey Archive Press, and Girl Factory, published by Tin House Books. His stories and poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Bomb, Denver Quarterly, the Iowa Review, Field, North American Review, American Poetry Review, and the Santa Monica Review, which he began in 1988. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and Manoa. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest fund. He teaches at Santa Monica College and in the graduate writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Iceland was selected by the Los Angeles Times and the Austin Chronicle as one of the ten best fiction books of 2002, and was on the Washington Post list of notable fiction for the same year. A collection of his stories, Abductions, which will be illustrated by Dani Tull, is scheduled for publication in September 2007. Margot Livesey is the author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, and Banishing Verona. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is currently a writer in residence at Emerson College. Dorothy Allison is the author of the novels Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the forthcoming She Who. Allison will be in residence at Davidson College in 2009. Rick Bass is the author of twenty-three books of fiction and nonfiction, including, most recently, a memoir Why I Came West, and the story collection The Lives of Rocks. His first short story collection, The Watch, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award, and his 2002 collection, The Hermit's Story, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. The Lives of Rocks was a finalist for the Story Prize and was chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News. Bass's stories have also been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award and have been collected in The Best American Short Stories. Antonya Nelson is the author of eight books of fiction, the most recent a story collection, Some Fun. She teaches in the University of Houston's creative writing program, and divides her time between Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Lucy Corin's short stories have been published in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, the Iowa Review, the Mid-American Review, and Conjunctions, and anthologized in the collections The Iowa Anthology of Innovative Fiction (Iowa University Press, 1994) and New Stories for the South: The Year's Best (Algonquin Books, 1997 and 2003). Her novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls was published by FC2 in 2004, and her collection The Entire Predicament was published by Tin House Books in 2007. Kate Bernheimer is the author of two novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold (FC2) and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold (FC2), and a children's book, The Girl in The Castle inside The Museum (Random House). She is also editor of two essay collections, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (Anchor/Vintage) and Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales (Wayne State University Press). She is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Pete Rock was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. The author of four novels and, most recently, a collection of stories, The Unsettling, he has taught at San Francisco State, Yale, Penn, Deep Springs and Reed College. He now lives in Portland, Oregon, and is at work on numerous projects -- one of which, the novel My Abandonment, will be published by Harcourt in early 2009. Tom Grimes is the author of the novels WILL@epicqwest.com, A STONE OF THE HEART, SEASON'S END, REDEMPTION SONG, and CITY OF GOD. He edited the fiction anthology, THE WORKSHOP: SEVEN DECADES OF FICTION FROM THE IOWA WRITERS' WORKSHOP. His essay, "Bring Out Your Dead" appeared in Tin House and was a Notable Essay of 2007. His interview with Roddy Doyle appeared in the Tin House Book of Interviews. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University. Matthea Harvey's most recent book of poetry, Modern Life, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2008 as well as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form and a forthcoming children's book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake. A contributing editor to jubilat, BOMB and Meatpaper, she teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

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Amazon.com: 10 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Fun and sexy essays about writing. 15 May 2009
By Spencer C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not your Mother's writing manual. Hell, Tin House's new book of craft essays, by a wonderful host of heavy-hitting writers, is not a manual at all, and it is so much the better for it. The Writer's Notebook takes its name seriously when presenting seventeen sexy essays that avoid giving step-by-step instructions, but confidently leads the reader on a pleasant hike up the mountain of writing craft. Leave your own notebook in the other room, but keep your pen handy, you may need to underline a few choice gems. These essays, while dealing with some of the usual suspects with renewed pizzazz, delve deeper and ask you to think about certain elements in a different way, like Mathea Harvey's deliciously bizarre turn at imagination and writing in "The Mercurial World of the Mind."
The Writer's Notebook manages to lure you in and befriend you, but just when you think it's going to reveal the secret to writing success, it chuckles and admits it's merely trying to get you thinking about writing from a different and fresh perspective. Often the authors confidently divulge their wisdom in the clever guise of their own mistakes, as in Peter Rock's "The Telling that Shows: Some Provocations from inside the Story." Mr. Rock states "---" This seems to be the general tone of the Notebook. Even as Margot Livesey points out Shakespeare's mistakes and success in, "Shakespeare for Writers: Sixteen Lessons."
If you are seeking the distilled wisdom in the form of a key to success, turn left and follow the heavily trodden path of 12 step programs. However, if you want to journey with Tin House's fantastic stable of wise Authors and Poets, Authors that speak with great character and kindness, then follow them down the bramble trail and pick up this Writer's Notebook. You'll emerge with some minor gashes in your writerly thinking, but the scars and these essays will likely help you write better stories.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Interesting insights on writing 9 Jan. 2011
By uh okay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as it was required by a creative writing class. Some fairly solid essays on the craft of writing from a variety of published authors. Even if you're not interested in writing professionally, the essays themselves offer up nice little nuggets that apply to life itself, not just the craft of writing.

Overall a fun and fascinating read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Worth buying, used 30 Mar. 2010
By Someone Like You - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a good read. The essays aren't for everybody, and I rolled my eyes at more than a few them. That said, I agree with the other reviewer that there are some real gems waiting to be underlined. The pieces are definitely not "how-to"--instead, they feel more like little stories about writing. Plus, the CD that comes with the book is great--it's fun to hear these writers speak in their own voices about their experiences with the written word.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fun book to have around. 24 Dec. 2012
By Agordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because I saw an essay by Aimee Bender in it. All of these are great and enertaining. I found myself getting more into the writing style of the writers more than the content of their essay. Great to have around and jot down little notes here and there.
Tin House, let my people go! 1 July 2014
By Shagbark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You may have seen that I trashed "The Best of Tin House" because Tin House only publishes plotless stories that end in despair. But they have good writers, and those writers give good advice, mostly. If only Tin House would just let them write.

Highlights for me include "Place" ("Place is not just what your feet are crossing to get somewhere. Place is feeling, and feeling is something a character expresses."), "Hard up for a hard-on" (don't assume that sex scenes must be sexy), "Material" (looking for structural patterns in stories), "Performing surgery without anesthesia" (Most people don't revise; they polish), and "The telling that shows" (a new way to thing about show vs. tell). There are, however, 3 modernist chapters ("Character motivation", "Le Mot Incorrect", "(Mis)adventures in poetry") which IMHO give bad advice.

Full review, dealing with each chapter separately, at fimfiction.net/blog/335947.
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