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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The 14th Way Of Looking At It

Margaret Drabble doesn't find much to like in Jane Smiley's ode to reading, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel:

"Smiley taught creative writing in Iowa for a decade and a half, and it shows. She claims to believe that novel-writing is essentially a learned and learnable activity, not based on genius or talent. She likes to refer to plots as circles or pyramids, and tells us that almost every novel 'gathers itself at the 62 per cent mark' - but then she rethinks the strategy and advises you that you have to get a climax at about 85 per cent or 90 per cent of your way into your novel...much of her commentary is perfunctory, basic and banal."


  • Thanks for the word-count link.

    About a previous post and link - Pankaj Mishra on Bombay-Shanghai-Pudong - would you agree that it's a very badly written article? Like one of those Godawful home-baked cakes that your maiden aunt will trot out on you birthday and you HAVE to eat it and smile ...


    By Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock, at 1:50 PM  

  • True, actually. Also trying to appear insightful, without actually offering any insights.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 2:08 PM  

  • Scathing! I have been thinking that the Smiley book sounds pretty direly awful, she had a little excerpt thing in the Guardian a few weeks ago that was not to my taste.... thanks for the link.

    By Blogger Jenny D, at 7:59 PM  

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