By Jane Smiley
Over a rare twenty-year profession, Jane Smiley has written every kind of novels: secret, comedy, historic fiction, epic. “Is there something 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 unique attitude: she learn 100 of them, from classics similar to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to contemporary fiction by way of Zadie Smith, Nicholson Baker, and Alice Munro.
Smiley explores–as no novelist has prior to her–the unheard of intimacy of interpreting, why a singular succeeds (or doesn’t), and the way the unconventional has replaced over the years. She describes a novelist as “right at the cusp among anyone who is aware every little thing and anyone who is familiar with nothing,” but whose “job and ambition is to strengthen a concept 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 during the booklet of her most up-to-date novel, Good religion, and, in very important chapters on how one can write “a novel of your own,” deals invaluable recommendation to aspiring authors.
Thirteen methods of the unconventional may volume to a weird kind of autobiography. We see Smiley studying in mattress with a chocolate bar; mulling over plot twists whereas cooking dinner for her kin; 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 single hundred books she learn, from Don Quixote to Lolita to Atonement, presenting her personal insights and infrequently arguable opinions. In its scope and gleeful eclecticism, her examining checklist is among the such a lot compelling–and surprising–ever assembled.
Engaging, clever, occasionally irreverent, Thirteen Ways is key studying for somebody who has ever escaped into the pages of a singular or, for that topic, desired to write one. In Smiley’s personal phrases, ones she came across herself turning to over the process her trip: “Read this. I guess you’ll like it.”
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Extra resources for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
T H I R T E E N W A Y S O F L O O K I N G A T T H E N O V E L COMPLEXITY The fact that while the novel seems to be limitless and universally capacious, it is actually much more particular in many ways results from how its five characteristics combine. As an example, let's consider writing and length. Because a novel is a printed book, subject to laws of intellectual property and also subject to commerce, it goes into the world as the author composed it. It retains its purity and constitutes a direct communication from one person to another.
In about one page of active and lively prose, Defoe takes up his spiritual doubts and what he does with them, the nature of his growing attachment to Friday and his sense of what sort of person Friday seems to be, and how his obligations to Friday's welfare lead him to act, and lead Friday to react. (In the third paragraph, Crusoe shoots a goat. ) Defoe's narrative moves quickly and smoothly from what happens to how the characters feel about it, to how Crusoe gives it meaning (or speculates about it—part of the suspense of the novel is that Crusoe is attempting to work out what things mean over the course of his long stay on the island), and, finally, to new things that Crusoe learns as he explores his home.
Defoe also grew up reading and listening to the King James Bible, because he came from a strongly religious Protestant household. Anthony Burgess remarks in his introduction to the 1966 Penguin edition of A Journal of the Plague Year that "Defoe was equipped by training, as well as by temperament, to turn into the first really modern writer, his mind disposed to independence, liberalism, scientific inquiry, master of five languages (though Latin and Greek not among them), his interests immediate and practical, not classical and remote" (p.
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley