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To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction Paperback – 12 Feb 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (12 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451696329
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451696325
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 498,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[To Show and To Tell] gives away all his trade secrets - a thoughtful guidebook for writers of literary nonfiction."

"One of the best guides to writing nonfiction I've read."

"Sophisticated... Lopate, a consummate and piquant essayist, ...draws on his extensive teaching experience in this expert, anecdotal, funny, and frank guide to writing "intelligent, satisfying, engaging literary nonfiction." Even in a how-to book, Lopate can't help but write lithe and sparring personal essays... Never one to accept received wisdom, Lopate encourages writers to go beyond the safe, facile, and sentimental."

"One of the Earls of Essay returns with a collection that illustrates both his knowledge of the genre and his considerable skill in practicing it... A useful collection of bracing thoughts and sinuous sentences."

"At last--a reliable guide to the signature genre of the age. Phillip Lopate's tour of literary nonfiction includes brilliant and helpful considerations of the essay and memoir, placing them and their vexing questions in clear cultural context. Impossible now to imagine a nonfiction course that does not include "To Show and To Tell "in its syllabus. This is the rule book. But it's much more than a "craft book" for writers. It's a delight in itself, a fascinating exploration for readers, for anyone wondering why personally voiced nonfiction is so popular. The range is impressive, and the voice here is immediate, fresh, witty, winningly honest. An indispensible book."--Patricia Hampl "author of The Florist's Daughter "

"Shrewd, revealing, dexterous, skeptical, provocative, restless, wry, necessary."--Laura Kipnis "author of Against Love and How to Become a Scandal "

"The work of a master, "To Show and To Tell "is beyond compare, for it embodies a poetics of literary nonfiction that takes into account all the crucial aspects, elements, and issues of the craft. Thus it's the essential text for anyone who seeks to enjoy, to understand, or to write nonfiction."--Carl H. Klaus "author of The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay "

At last--a reliable guide to the signature genre of the age. Phillip Lopate's tour of literary nonfiction includes brilliant and helpful considerations of the essay and memoir, placing them and their vexing questions in clear cultural context. Impossible now to imagine a nonfiction course that does not include "To Show and To Tell "in its syllabus. This is the rule book. But it's much more than a "craft book" for writers. It's a delight in itself, a fascinating exploration for readers, for anyone wondering why personally voiced nonfiction is so popular. The range is impressive, and the voice here is immediate, fresh, witty, winningly honest. An indispensible book. --Patricia Hampl "author of The Florist's Daughter ""

Shrewd, revealing, dexterous, skeptical, provocative, restless, wry, necessary. --Laura Kipnis "author of Against Love and How to Become a Scandal ""

The work of a master, "To Show and To Tell "is beyond compare, for it embodies a poetics of literary nonfiction that takes into account all the crucial aspects, elements, and issues of the craft. Thus it's the essential text for anyone who seeks to enjoy, to understand, or to write nonfiction. --Carl H. Klaus "author of The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay ""

About the Author

Phillip Lopate is the author of more than a dozen books, including three personal essay collections, "Bachelorhood", "Against Joie de Vivre", "Portrait of My Body", and "Waterfront". He directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An attention-grabbing conflation of technical advice and mastercraft acknowledgment. Lapote writes with enthusiasm and appreciation, and inspires me to both read and to write. Most importantly, he brings the non-fiction form - from today or from aeons away - back into clear view. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 41 reviews
76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Truth in Advertising? 13 Feb. 2013
By Environmental Historian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I admire Phillip Lopate's work, but I was very disappointed by this book. This is essentially a collection of occasional pieces Lopate has written over the years, not a true guide to "the craft of literary nonfiction." I expected a book that was conceived as a book. I much prefer the recently released Good Prose by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about memoir writing I've ever read. 25 Mar. 2013
By N. Maclean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philip Lopate has written an insightful volume about the importance of thoughtful reflection in recalling the events of our past in the writing of memoir. The goal is to bring our hard-won wisdom to the portrait of the I-character that we re-create from distant memory that is not only reflective, but that also rings true. The chapter on retrospective analysis and double perspective of the recalled I-character, with all her strengths, frailties, bravado, high spirits and/or foolishness, was a great help to me in my current work. Throughout this very entertaining, clearly written, intelligent, thought-provoking and challenging volume, Dr. Lopate challenges us to commit to reading more books, with a more discerning eye in our selection of the works of great writers, both from the past and those writing today. This kind of extensive and purposeful reading enables us to become more accomplished writers ourselves,learning from the great writers so that we may begin to increase in confidence and craftsmanship and begin to write at the very highest level at which we are capable. Write the truth with thoughtful reflection, rather than glib stylistic gimmickry, and you will write well, he advises. And his words strike a chord that rings true. No artifice. Just the well crafted, thoughtful telling and showing of the events, places, senses,and supporting cast of characters that surround the I-character in your story of a significant period of time in your life.. I highly recommend this book.
Sheri Nelson Maclean, The Woodlands, Texas
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Details 8 July 2013
By Pamela I. Perkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the chapter entitled "Imagination Thin and Thick" Lopate discusses the kinds of details that are meaningful when writing nonfiction and that it is unnecessary to add logical details that add nothing to the event. The following day, I read a book by Thomas Derr (page 34) in which Derr had written about seeing something in the refrigerator that had changed his direction and action. The stark authenticity of the moment by moment process brought me back to Lopate's words, and I realized that I now have a greater understanding of how really meaningful details enhance a piece of writing and how detail for the sake of detail is a waste.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class in a Book 21 May 2013
By Pamela Learned - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been actively working on a handful of personal essays for about a year. I took this book along to a spa/writing retreat and found myself fully engaged in every chapter. I was chagrined to read Lopate's observations about typical student topics (loss of parents, friend trouble), and then bucked up to read how to cover these topics well--and much more. Great, readable advice on writing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skill and Insight! 12 Sept. 2013
By Rocco Kaplan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the author tackles a common question of nascent writers: how to show and make a point. First of many that I have read that validates telling what you want to say. In literary writing, the convention is to skate around the idea you are presenting. Lopate is the master and a respected professor. He breaks down the craft of effective persuasive essay writing. Read it, study it. Then read it again... I am.
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