cover image Writers on Writing

Writers on Writing

. University Press of New England, $26 (306pp) ISBN 978-0-87451-560-2

Writers and wannabes will glean abundant advice, encouragement and inspiration from this volume's contributors--25 seasoned fictionists and poets who offer spin-offs of literary workshops. Standout essays include Lynne Sharon Schwartz's lament on the epidemic use of the present tense in fashionable fiction; John Irving's guidelines on beginning a novel (``Know the story--the whole story, if possible--before you fall in love with your first sentence , not to mention your first chapter.''); Francine Prose's mining of storytelling lessons from Chekhov's oeuvre; Erica Jong's rumination on women writers' enemies (``It was my grandmother who taught me to be the second sex. It was my grandmother I had to kill before I could become a writer.''); Gail Godwin's linking of fiction-writing with diary-making; and Rosellen Brown's prescriptions for versatility: writers should cannibalize their own work and make a set of poems out of a stalled novel. Hilma Wolitzer's tips on agents, word processors and what a writer wears to bed will strike more sophisticated scribblers as elementary but true-blue novices may appreciate the information. Pack and Parini are the authors, respectively, of Before It Vanishes and The Last Station. BOMC and QPB selections. (Sept.)