cover image Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing

Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing

Roger Rosenblatt, Ecco, $13.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-196561-6

Culled from his experiences teaching writing workshops, novelist, essayist, and longtime professor Rosenblatt (Making Toast) tackles the "why"—not the "how"—of writing by chronicling his winter/spring 2008 semester of "Writing Everything," wherein students discuss and write short stories, essays, and poetry. Chapters include these students' work; Rosenblatt's humor, wit, and wisdom; and classroom discussions of questions both obvious (how does a story differ from an essay?) and remarkably precise (how does James Joyce convey so much in the first sentence of "Clay" and what does it all mean?). The author repeatedly points out that he cannot teach his students to be professional writers, but rather to simply write better than they did before. Less a how-to book than a measured reflection on teaching, the work nonetheless offers aspiring writers many concrete suggestions (let your nouns do the work; go for imagination over invention; write with "restraint, precision, and generosity"). And the oft-invoked words of other authors should resonate with readers and writers alike. (Jan.)