Friday, September 26, 2008

How Fiction Works by James Wood

As you can tell by my reviews on this blog, I'm not a big nonfiction reader. However, I do branch out a little every once in a while and read something out of the norm. This is one of those occasions in which I'm glad I did take a chance on something I wouldn't normally pick up. The author looks at specific pieces of literature and discusses why they work or don't work (in his opinion). He discusses all the aspects of fiction writing. However, it's his discussion of character and point of view that interested me the most. I'd like to think that I'm an astute reader, but I realized while reading this book that maybe I'm not all that astute after all. It was really interesting to see how much of a difference it makes when something seemingly minor is changed. I won't go into any great detail with this. However, if you're at all interested in the subject matter, this is a great little book.

I have a stack of about 25 books on my bedside table at the present, but I haven't decided what I'm going to read next. I have a couple of book club meetings coming up in the next week so it will probably be one of those. I actually haven't been reading quite as much as normal because I've been working on knitting a pair of socks. It never fails, as soon as the first hint of autumn rolls in, I'm ready to start knitting again. If I get really brave one day, I may even post a picture.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

I was impressed by the POV sections of How fiction works as well, and came away with a few books (A Sentimental Education, What Maisie Knew) to add to the TBR list.

I'll be interested to see what you decide to read next.

Lisa said...

sarah, yeah I added to my tbr pile, as well. Right now I'm leaning towards On Agate Hill by Lee Smith for my book club.

Dorothy W. said...

I do like books about fiction, explaining how it works and such. But just a little while ago I finished John Mullan's How Novels Work, and that's probably enough of the genre for a little while!

Lisa said...

Dorothy, I know what you mean. It would be easy to overdose on the subject. I started reading Bloom's How to Read and Why and haven't been able to finish it, yet.

Sarah said...

I am intrigued by this book. Some reviewers have said that Woods is so powerful and compelling a mediator of literary merit that he is beginning to change the way writers think about creating fiction. Evidently, Zadie Smith sat up, took notice, and even vowed to change a few things about her style based on Woods' input. Interesting.

Lisa said...

sarah, that's interesting that a successful writer like Smith would vow to change her writing based on this book. I did enjoy it and it made me think about reading in a different way, as well.