The True Subject: Writers on Life and Craft

Kurt Brown, Editor Graywolf Press $12 (151p) ISBN 978-1-55597-181-6
This anthology of 14 essays, first delivered as lectures at several writers' conferences around the country, contains some wisdom and inspiration but lacks coherence. Jane Smiley reflects thoughtfully on ``the extreme paucity of mothers, and of the tradition of a maternal vision'' in our literary culture, and suggests that a new ``literature of real, live motherhood'' is being forged. Christopher Merrill, reporting on a writers' conference in Slovenia, finds the famous panelists ignoring the nearby Bosnian war and instead haranguing the U.S. government about copyright law. William Kittredge, citing the disenfranchised, suggests, ``We need stories that will encourage us toward acts of the imagination that in turn will drive us to the arts of empathy.'' Agha Shahid Ali criticizes American ethnocentrism for ignoring Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a great Pakistani poet who wrote from Beirut and whose death was front-page news in the Middle East and elsewhere. Several lectures, however, are slight, and despite the book's title, few pieces address the craft of writing. Brown, former director of the Aspen Writers' Conference, is co-founder of Writers' Conferences and Festivals. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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