cover image The Making of a Writer: Journals 1961–1963

The Making of a Writer: Journals 1961–1963

Gail Godwin, , edited by Rob Neufeld. . Random, $25.95 (353pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6432-8

Godwin, whose latest novel, Queen of the Underworld (reviewed on p. 33), is appearing at the same time as these journals, has kept an almost daily account of her thoughts and doings for more than 50 years. She offers a remarkable picture of determination and tenacity, amid often crippling self-doubts, as she struggled to launch a literary career. After a brief failed marriage and an abortive stab at journalism in Miami, she set off for Europe, staying briefly in Oslo, Copenhagen and the Canary Islands, before settling for two years in London, in a meaningless (for her) job at the U.S. Travel Service. Everywhere she attracted, and was attracted to, men, and each time her restless spirit, her ambitions as a writer and her unwillingness to be tied down broke up the relationships. Her entries also show the ways in which a writer's imagination began to shape the material of her life into what later became notable stories and novels; it's remarkable, in fact, that someone who at 24 could write with such wit, perception and rueful self-knowledge would have to wait another half-dozen years before receiving any recognition for her gifts. In one despairing moment, Godwin writes, "This journal has no earthly use or interest to anyone but Number One." Profoundly untrue—and it is good to know that this engaging volume is the first of a series. Agent, John Hawkins. (On sale Jan. 10)