Paths of Resistance: The Art and Craft of the Political Novel

William Knowlton Zinsser, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-51426-9
Like its predecessors--on American biography, memoir and religious writing--the fourth volume in Zinsser's Writer's Craft series is drawn from Book-of-the-Month Club lectures held at the New York Public Library. The essays, although articulate, only skim the surface of the turbulent ties between politics and literature. Isabel Allende, exiled niece of Chile's assassinated president Salvador Allende, explains that ``very few of our writers contemplate their navel in self-centered monologue. The majority want desperately to communicate.'' She also welcomes the emergence of a small group of Latin American men and women whose political writings transcend a traditional patriarchal perspective. Robert Stone takes William Gass to task because in a Harper's piece he ``toyed with the proposition that art and moral aspiration were mutually distant.'' Charles McCarry, who admits ``I'm not quite sure what a political novel is,'' warns against writing ``what you believe instead of what you know.'' Marge Piercy's and Gore Vidal's rebuttals of their critics will strike readers as more self-serving than instructive. A bibliography lists favorite books of all participants but Vidal. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 167 pages - 978-0-395-51427-6
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