Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
The back matter--notes, bibliography, acknowledgments, and index--are invaluable, and if you'd like you could launch a lifetime of study just using her references as the guidepost. This book has gotten me excited again about literature--a dive deep into the profound waters, far from the frothy, frivolous "acclaimed" writing that has increasingly made me feel so discouraged and alienated.
No, this is not a how-to. This is a wondering-how-and-why.
As a longtime fan of Atwood's work and as a writer myself, I found her insight fascinating, though I can understand the disappointment some readers felt; this is not a handbook or a how-to, it's an intellectual memoir and will consequently be a let-down for many. But if you are curious about analysis and process more than in absolutes, there is much here to interest and entertain. Atwood-the-writer can seem remote in her fiction; here she is personable and humane. Anyone who has put pen to paper will recognize and value much that is to be found in this volume.
A reluctant host, she says herself in the book's introduction, "Writing itself is always bad enough, but writing about writing is surely worse, in the futility department." Her disclaimer, in part, reads, "I'm not a scholar or a literary theoretician," and I'm reminded of how someone once said the only thing worse than a bore is an unqualified bore.
Atwood draws mostly on the works of other writers, but also on interviews and conversations with writers in an attempt to answer three basic questions: "Who are you writing for? Why do you do it? Where does it come from?" On the whole, she doesn't even come close to answering these questions, and once the purpose is stated, it's like she thought, 'Well now that's out of the way. I've given the work direction. Now I can do as I please!' To be fair, she does produce a laundry list of reasons why writers write, some of which aren't half bad. ("Because to write is to take risks, and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive.") But even this list seems more like the product of a quick brainstorming session than of deep, reflective thought, and she digresses widely from there.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
You know those reviewers who wish they could give it zero stars? Yeah, I'm one of those now. I got this book for an Individualized Writing class, and it gives memoirs a bad name. Read morePublished on July 15 2003 by karenceleste
You have to wonder if most of the previous reviewers of this book have actually read any of Atwood's fiction. Read morePublished on April 24 2003
I was so disappointed in this book - it's very egotistical in assuming we really care about the author's memories of her bell-bottom hippy days - very little about actual writing... Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2003
Boring and depressing and really not much help to anyone who wants advice on the art of writing. More of a memoir and not much of one at that. Read morePublished on Dec 12 2002 by Bob Foster
What a disappointment. Instead of the insightful observations Atwood is capable of -- and I have heard her speak -- this book is a mishmash of cutesy comments and esoteric... Read morePublished on April 3 2002