By Jane Smiley
Over a unprecedented twenty-year occupation, Jane Smiley has written every kind of novels: secret, comedy, old fiction, epic. “Is there whatever Jane Smiley can't do?” raves Time magazine. yet within the wake of September 11, Smiley faltered in her hitherto unflagging impulse to jot down and determined to process novels from a distinct perspective: she learn 100 of them, from classics comparable to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fresh fiction through Zadie Smith, Nicholson Baker, and Alice Munro.
Smiley explores–as no novelist has ahead of her–the extraordinary intimacy of interpreting, why a singular succeeds (or doesn’t), and the way the unconventional has replaced through the years. She describes a novelist as “right at the cusp among an individual who is aware every little thing and somebody who is familiar with nothing,” but whose “job and ambition is to boost a idea of ways it feels to be alive.”
In her inimitable style–exuberant, candid, opinionated–Smiley invitations us behind the curtain of novel-writing, sharing her personal conduct and spilling the secrets and techniques of her craft. She walks us step by step throughout the booklet of her most modern novel, Good religion, and, in very important chapters on find out how to write “a novel of your own,” bargains necessary recommendation to aspiring authors.
Thirteen methods of taking a look at the radical may volume to a unusual type of autobiography. We see Smiley examining in mattress with a chocolate bar; mulling over plot twists whereas cooking dinner for her family members; even, on the age of twelve, devouring Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which she later discovered have been between her earliest literary versions for plot and character.
And in an exciting end, Smiley considers separately the only hundred books she learn, from Don Quixote to Lolita to Atonement, presenting her personal insights and infrequently debatable opinions. In its scope and gleeful eclecticism, her studying record is among the such a lot compelling–and surprising–ever assembled.
Engaging, clever, occasionally irreverent, Thirteen Ways is vital studying for somebody who has ever escaped into the pages of a singular or, for that subject, desired to write one. In Smiley’s personal phrases, ones she came upon herself turning to over the process her trip: “Read this. I wager you’ll like it.”
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Extra info for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
As books, censored or outlawed novels become precious. Restrictions enhance the reader's desire for a private experience—that of reading a banned book—and so promote the very subject they are about, the individual's sensation of coexistence with the group. As a book, a novel enhances its reader's sense of power. Don't like the author? Throw the book away. Think this obscure book is better than that famous one? State your opinion. Disagree with the very respected author? You may, because the book is in your hands, in your power, which makes you the author's equal.
Others, many of them women (though I think Flaubert fits in here), such as Jane Austen, Alice Munro, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, and Elizabeth Bowen, are especially subtle and precise. They don't cause the language to do more, but they cause it to communicate more perfectly and efficiently. George Eliot, in her use of analogy and extended metaphor, as well as in her very nuanced deployment of conceptual words that would seem dry in the hands of another novelist, is especially good at depicting a whole range of ideas that other authors hardly seem to have thought about.
Many of Woolf 's most famous works move from character to character, moment to moment, attempting to capture and renew the sense of wonder that exists apart from and inside of social, cultural, and political arrangements. Woolf is, in this sense, apolitical. But in another sense, she is very political, because the logical outcome of her method is a radical democratizing of the novel. No consciousness is privileged. No class, no degree of virtue or talent, no amount of money, no uniqueness of perspective gets to own the depiction of consciousness.