Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction

Richard Todd, Author, Tracy Kidder, Author
Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. Random, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6975-0
Open Ebook - 111 pages - 978-0-679-60472-3
Paperback - 195 pages - 978-0-8129-8215-2
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Pulitzer Prize–winning author Kidder (Strength in What Remains) teams with his longtime editor Todd (formerly at the Atlantic Monthly) to write a comprehensive, practical look at the best practices of professional nonfiction writers and editors. While Kidder and Todd’s goal is to provide guidance for writing excellent “essays, memoirs, and factual narratives,” anecdotes and close readings throughout the text are an excellent resource for would-be writers of any prose genre. In an unusual move, the authors maintain their individual voices; some short sections are signed TK or RT, while other longer sections are written in an authoritative third person. Chapters offer advice from the field regarding “beginnings,” narrative, memoir, essays, factual reporting, style, the business of writing, editing, and usage. Full of quotable aphorisms, the text is nonetheless often lethargic and ends in an unsatisfying list reminiscent of Strunk and White that lacks the wisdom of the earlier chapters. Readers will find the book to be more of a textbook than a how-to, but the lessons within are worth the slog. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson, and Lerner Literary Agency. (Jan.)
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