By Jane Smiley
Over a unprecedented twenty-year occupation, Jane Smiley has written every kind of novels: secret, comedy, ancient fiction, epic. “Is there something Jane Smiley can't do?” raves Time magazine. yet within the wake of 9-11, Smiley faltered in her hitherto unflagging impulse to put in writing and made up our minds to strategy novels from a distinct perspective: she learn 100 of them, from classics equivalent to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fresh fiction by way of Zadie Smith, Nicholson Baker, and Alice Munro.
Smiley explores–as no novelist has sooner than her–the extraordinary intimacy of examining, why a singular succeeds (or doesn’t), and the way the radical has replaced over the years. She describes a novelist as “right at the cusp among anyone who is aware every thing and anyone who understands nothing,” but whose “job and ambition is to strengthen a conception 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 behavior and spilling the secrets and techniques of her craft. She walks us step by step in the course of the book of her most modern novel, Good religion, and, in important chapters on the way to write “a novel of your own,” deals helpful 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 relations; even, on the age of twelve, devouring Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which she later learned have been between her earliest literary types for plot and character.
And in a thrilling end, Smiley considers separately the only hundred books she learn, from Don Quixote to Lolita to Atonement, presenting her personal insights and sometimes arguable opinions. In its scope and gleeful eclecticism, her examining record is among the so much compelling–and surprising–ever assembled.
Engaging, clever, occasionally irreverent, Thirteen Ways is key examining for a person who has ever escaped into the pages of a unique or, for that topic, desired to write one. In Smiley’s personal phrases, ones she discovered herself turning to over the process her trip: “Read this. I wager you’ll like it.”
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Extra resources for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
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. But the book itself you cannot destroy. WHAT IS A NOVEL? Imagine the roster of heroes and heroines that novels have carried around the world. David Copperfield stands beside Frankenstein and not far from Scarlett O'Hara and Count Dracula, Anna Karenina, Scrooge, Uncle Tom, Jo March, Becky Sharp, the Count of Monte Cristo, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Elizabeth Bennet, Captain Bligh and Captain Ahab.
All additional characteristics— characters, plot, themes, setting, style, point of view, tone, historical accuracy, philosophical profundity, revolutionary or revelatory effect, pleasure, enlightenment, transcendence, and truth—grow out of the ironclad relationships among these five elements. A novel is an experience, but the experience takes place within the boundaries of writing, prose, length, narrative, and protagonist. The most necessary of the five qualities of the novel is writing. The paradox of writing is that it is permanent, and so it may be forgotten.
A novel's organization depends upon distinct and readily identifiable characters. They begin by having names and go on to have appearances, characteristics, and histories. Thus, purely for the sake of organization, the novel promotes the idea of individuals' having memorable idiosyncrasies and importance. As a result, it appeals to the reader's sense of her own distinctness and importance. And novel-reading cannot be a collective experience. Just as, without Hamlet to remind the audience that appearances are deceiving, the audience of a drama might believe in the legitimacy of Claudius' rule, so, too, without authorial reminders of the importance of "the people" or "the nation," novelreaders might forget the existence of the collective (as opposed to a group of distinct individuals) entirely.
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley