Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer

Nancy Mairs, Author Beacon Press (MA) $15 (166p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6006-3
Critically acclaimed essayist Mairs ( Ordinary Times ) recounts the history of her development as a writer in a memoir that even those who are weary of the ``what being a writer means to me'' genre will find stimulating and insightful. Mairs's use of metaphor is dazzling, her self-scrutiny almost painfully candid. She reminds us that every writer's perspective is to a large extent shaped by circumstances, that one's ``voice'' is a product of his or her gender, social class, education, etc. Mairs's rigorous attention to the origins and growth of her voice is thus offered not so much as a ``portrait of the artist'' or a universally applicable guide to becoming a writer but as a meditation on the relationship between author and culture. Her contextual awareness leads Mairs to question many of the ``rules'' of the literary profession--the tradition, for example, of maintaining clear-cut distinctions between academic and creative writing--and to insist on breaking these rules. Mairs is an iconoclastic thinker; hers is an unusually original book and a great pleasure to read. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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