How to Write Like Tolstoy

Richard Cohen. Random House, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9830-6
Cohen (Chasing the Sun) writes an elegant, chatty how-to book on writing well, using the lessons of many of the world’s best writers. He draws on plentiful advice from past and present literary titans, including Stephen King, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, D.H. Lawrence, and the titular Tolstoy. How does a great author grab a reader, give a character life, or handle sex scenes? Cohen relates how many notable writers have grappled with character, point of view, and dialogue, as well as the element of rhythm. Using William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and other classic books as examples, he shows the many ways in which revision is useful and editors are indispensable. The process of gathering advice from prominent contemporary authors such as Francine Prose, Jonathan Franzen, and Nick Hornby gives Cohen the opportunity to tell any number of amusing, often discursive stories about great literature and authors, mixed with the writers’ own observations, which he hopes will further inspire readers and would-be writers. The advice is pleasant, and sometimes wise. Agent: Kathy Robbins, Robbins Office. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 05/31/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-8129-8773-7
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