Classic texts: On Becoming a Novelist

Monday, September 20, 2010

Among the many books I read or began reading this weekend was an old one by John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist.  I don't seem to do many things in the right order in this life of mine, and I should have probably read a few how-to's, or at least taken a university class, or something, before plunging into this writerly life of mine.  And yet, there's something very sweet about discovering, in Gardner, the sort of instructions or notions that I've stumbled my way toward by virtue of writing poorly for a long time and reading handsomely well.

From Raymond Carver's introduction to Gardner's text:

It was his conviction that if the words in the story were blurred because of the author's insensitivity, carelessness, or sentimentality, then the story suffered from a serious handicap.  But there was something even worse and something that must be avoided at all costs:  if the words and the sentiments were dishonest, the author was faking it, writing about things he didn't care about or believe in, then nobody could ever care anything about it.


Lilian Nattel said...

I've also done many things backward and if not backward, then late. But I did read Gardner when I was young, on a teacher's recommendation. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Anna Lefler said...

I just ordered this book! I can't wait to read it!

May I have my bag of Cheetos back now?


;-) A.

Beth F said...

Interesting. I agree that dishonesty is hard to hide.

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