cover image (Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before: And Other Essays on Writing Fiction

(Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before: And Other Essays on Writing Fiction

Peter Turchi. Trinity Univ, $19.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59534-976-7

Writing wisdom is in no short supply in this rich collection from novelist Turchi (The Girls Next Door). Combining anecdotes about his teaching career with sharp criticism, Turchi gracefully explores the craft’s ins and outs, covering point of view, narrative strategy, and the use of imagery. In “Don’t Stand So Close to Me: Narrative Distance in First-Person Fiction,” Turchi breaks down “primitive first person” narration, in which there’s no “apparent difference between the author’s view of the story and the narrator’s view of the story,” and uses nuanced readings of Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn to demonstrate how to create distance. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Information Dump: The Strategic Release of Information” describes how tension can be created by withholding of information from readers, as seen in Adam Johnson’s story “Hurricanes Anonymous,” which “sustains momentum by keeping information coming to us in different directions, on different levels.” A useful appendix, meanwhile, suggests notes on workshops (“a combination of seriousness, respect, humility, and generosity” is key). Turchi’s analyses are themselves terrific examples of reading like a writer, a skill he touts as being crucial to the art. Candid and graceful, this deserves a spot on aspiring novelists’ shelves. (Jan.)