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On Becoming a Novelist (Anglais) Broché – 10 février 2000

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"Answers exactly the questions that a dedicated writing student would be most likely to ask . . . a miraculously detailed account of the creative process."--Anne Tyler, Baltimore Sun --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic way to "know" whether this "writing gig" is or is not for you! 2 janvier 2015
Par Kathryn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
On Becoming a Novelist
by John Gardner
as reviewed by Kassie Ritman for Catholic Fiction.Net
rating ****

Here it is. With the definitive line at last drawn in the sand, we can know the truth. The real talents, tricks and learned abilities that absolutely separate the hobbiest from the serious writer. Admittedly, I hesitate to describe On Becoming a Novelist in this tone. It sounds rather snarky,really mean or sarcastic. But in truth, the description is apt for the contents of this book. Gardner himself was a prolific author, educator, and curmudgeonous guardian of art expressed via perfectly selected words. He dissects the work of noveling like a scientist dismantling an important new insect. He wants us to know what makes a story written as marks onto paper into what he refers to as a “fictive dream.”

I love that description; a story as a fictive dream. Indeed, the best told tales are always enchanting and nearly magical to experience. Each time a written scene draws us into it, we become a part of the book and authors’ own trance of imagery. We are transported, and when the writing is right, the spell wraps around each person who cracks open the fresh new book and settles in to be transported in place.

The first time I read John Gardner’s book, I was flying in criss crosses around the country trying to get from Asheville North Carolina to Indianapolis. With nothing even resembling a direct flight available, I had plenty of time onboard and during layovers to read the entire contents of “On Becoming.” I have to say that I was fascinated and found myself scribbling notes on the over leafs, in the margins and circling large blocks of text. After nearly 12 hours, four separate airports and too many chatty seatmates, I decided that I needed to set the book aside and reread it when the pleasant distraction from travel trauma wouldn’t cloud my opinion

Round two proved to be just as fascinating and worthwhile. More notes happened and by the end of my second reading, I found I was just as impressed as I was originally. I was glad on both readings that I had taken care to read the foreword written by Gardner’s student Raymond Carver and the author’s preface. Generally, I skip these long winded boring Oscar Award-style thankyou notes. But for some reason, I opened the book at Foreword page “i” and read all the preamble (both foreword and preface) in their entirety. On a book that weighs in at a scant 150 pages, the more than one dozen pages written before the “book” starts are a surprisingly worthwhile portion.

Published posthumously in 1983, one year after his passing by the writer’s estate, the Library of Congress indexes it perfectly.

1.Fiction--Authorship--Vocational guidance.

Gardner gathered his thoughts into four headings. Being a “good Catholic” I am naturally drawn most to the Alpha and the Omega. Parts 1 (The Writer’s Nature) and 4 (Faith) hold my attention like a vise grip every time I read them. The middle sections include, naturally, Part 2 (The Writer’s Training and Education) followed by Part 3’s description of “Publication and Survival.” Did I mention that this guy both knows his stuff, and is hilarious too? On page 46, the author talks about people who press and pry and how a writer can respond to such muse battering inquisitions:

The development of fully competent technique calls for further psychological armor. If a writer learns his craft slowly and carefully, laboriously strengthening his style, not publishing too fast, people may begin to look at the writer aslant and ask suspiciously, “And what do you do?” meaning: “How come you sit around all the time? How come your dog’s so thin?” Here the virtue of childishness is helpful--the writer’s tendency to cry, especially when drunk, a trick that makes persecutors quit. If the pressure grows intense, the oral and anal fixations swing into action: one relieves pressure by chewing things, chattering mindlessly, or straightening and restraightening one’s clothes.

This is fully representative of the writer’s wry style. He proclaims the things that are often thought but not said aloud during polite conversation. Things I will paraphrase here like “education can ruin a perfectly good writer” or “one must be damaged, but not too horrifically, to be an effective author” and “gin is sometimes what it takes to understand the essence of a character.” He makes mention several times of his own struggles with organized religion and whether or not he is cool enough, or dull enough to either bail out completely or whole heartedly jump back in. Through in his own novels he writes extensively on early classic story themes such as the days of King Arthur and his noble guardians of the grail. In these he shows a deep understanding of the lyricism and poetry originally funded and commissioned often by the Church. He uses many of these as inspiration for his written chronicles into the “fictive dream.”

I recommend this book highly to all aspiring writers and those who already find themselves flailing neck deep in lyrical prose passages and story arc. Although tongue-in-cheek at times, there are abundant kernels of wisdom. My only disappointment is that I was never fortunate enough to try my hand at enrolling and surviving one of his classes.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Exception in its Genre 12 janvier 2017
Par Vazhaspa Spitman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I found this book beyond my expectations, showing the pitfalls I had experienced directly, and echoing what I warned my colleagues and students. It is in fact not just a guide for a "young" novice trying to be a novelist but a critical advice for even the professional or the elitist who may easily forget about the magic of writing, or as Gardner puts it, neglect the magical job of creating an incessant vivid "dream" in the minds of the readers,not interrupted by anything. In this regard, the book is really exceptional in its genre.
It warns the writer not to forget about the entertaining/ charming core of story-writing, or not to be mesmerized by the elitist or critics' approach. Even though language is very important it should not be overdone unless you want your story or characters being devoured by the dragon of a bombastic language; and even though technique is a significant part of any story-writing it should not be so heavy to crash the story by overloaded trite tropes or superficial symbolism ... The book is not a writing-made-easy, but rather about the hard work of acute observation, years of hard-work, revising and constant editing until it turns into a satisfactory work of art. It is, however, a WORK not just piece of art!
I read the book with an aesthetic joy ... And I think any writer would find the book quite useful and enjoyable even if it just crystalizes what you have directly experienced or learned as a professional writer!
P.S. Perhaps the only drawback I found in the book is in the middle when the author, explaining the mystery of "epiphany" resorts to an example from his own novel and goes with a long descriptive interpretation of the denouement. But this few pages seem rather like a digression and it is not so negative to make me demote the book by giving it four star!
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Classic Guide For Would-be Novelists 5 octobre 2014
Par Alan L. Chase - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This simple book, On Becoming a Novelist," has become a classic since John Gardner's estate granted publication rights shortly after his death in 1982. The best thing I can say about this little gem of a volume is that it helped this would-be novelist make considerable progress on my dormant manuscript. Although he does offer some technical guidance, this is not a pedantic book or a How To treatise. In sharing his own journey through writing and frequent revising of his works, he offers up a spirit and ethos that an aspiring writer can embrace.

As I made my way through the book, I often stopped to make notes about ideas that his writing had spawned about my own embryonic novel. I suddenly had new ideas about character development, places, actions that would drive the story, back stories to be hinted at. I feel as if reading this book kicked in the after burners for my own novel.

Allow me to share a short excerpt that grabbed me: "I mentioned earlier one common set of standards for good fiction - creation of a vivid and continuous dream, authorial generosity, intellectual and emotional significance, elegance and efficiency, and strangeness." (Page 84)

Toward the end of the book, he takes a deeper dive into exploring the idea of the writer creating a dream: "This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer's process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things - sees them clearly - and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writers that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead." (Page 120)

What a challenge - and what an inspiration!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 98.27% Great advice 2 janvier 2017
Par CMB - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I enjoyed reading Gardner's advice for young novelists. I found some of his advice somewhat antiquated in comparison to advice of contemporary writers. This book would be better described as a way to write a literary masterpiece few will ever read, but who cares since good fiction is rarely recognized until it's either beyond superb or so easily predictably digestible that it'll be on every bestseller list around. Oh.....and don't give up.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Strange but True 21 avril 2016
Par Fredrick Vincent - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A strange writing book, but then it's Gardner. He doesn't sugarcoat, keeps it real, and probably my best part of this book is the last paragraph, where he describes writing "is not so much a profession as yoga, or way, an alternative to ordinary life-in-the world" because the true reward of writing is that which only the writer can comprehend, a satisfaction that passes understanding, and Gardner teaches this well.
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