cover image Every Day I Write the Book: Notes on Style

Every Day I Write the Book: Notes on Style

Amitava Kumar. Duke Univ., $24.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-4780-0627-5

Vassar English professor and novelist Kumar (Immigrant, Montana) addresses fellow scholars—particularly those starting their careers—in an inventive essay collection that speaks both to his “attraction to academic writing and [his] rebellion against it.” Presenting an argument, but not a how-to, for clearer and simpler scholarly writing, Kumar considers stylistic elements such as structure and voice, or practical problems such as getting published, without making one-size-fits-all proclamations. Celebrating those writers who “blurred the lines between the critical and the creative,” particularly Susan Sontag—a frequent reference point—he shares relevant excerpts from interviews he’s conducted with such writers as Viet Thanh Nguyen—whose “ideal [is] writing criticism as fiction and fiction as criticism,” and Salman Rushdie, while also introducing less familiar writers as models to emulate, including Manthia Diawara (In Search of Africa) and Sarah Manguso (300 Arguments). The result is a celebration of “the value, the ease, and also the excitement of crafting writing that hasn’t been produced to please a committee.” Grad students and tenure seekers will appreciate the support Kumar’s insightful and intellectually nimble book offers, even as they buckle down to the task at hand—satisfying that committee of readers. (Mar.)