Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 49 -- The Art of Fiction

by John Gardner

Started: Oct. 2
Finished: Oct. 21

Notes: Though I find it somewhat limiting, for a while now I've had quite the interest in Gardner's philosophical approach to fiction as outlined in his book On Moral Fiction. Being a fan of that book, even though I don't agree with all of it, I thought it time I read some of Gardner's work on the mechanics of writing. Thus, I'm reading this book, The Art of Fiction.

Mini review: This book comes off a bit snobbish early on, but to be fair, Gardner warns that this material is meant for those who are serious about being a literary writer. Also, the sub-head on this one suggest it is for young people, but my feeling was much of this material would go over the heads of all but the most well-read and experienced writers. There is a fair amount of material here, but I'm not sure it's absolutely necessary for most writers. The first half of the book mostly looks into literary theory, which can be a bit dry, but might be of interest to some, dealing with such things as themes, morality in fiction, etc. The second half of the book is a little more down to earth, focusing upon structure, plotting, etc. The last chapter of the book is filled with exercises, and I thought many of them were quite interesting. Should this book be mandatory? No. But it could be interesting reading for those with a literary bent, and especially for those who are Gardner fans.


Charles Gramlich said...

I generally have enjoyed Gardner's stuff. I read this quite a few years ago now. Not sure how long. Don't remember a lot about it

Brent Nichols said...

I've got a copy of Gardner's "On Becoming a Novelist," which I found impenetrable and of no use to me whatsoever. That book comes highly recommended by lots of people, but it really wasn't for me. I'm afraid it put me right off of Gardner.