By Jane Smiley
Over a rare twenty-year profession, Jane Smiley has written all types of novels: secret, comedy, historic fiction, epic. “Is there something Jane Smiley can't do?” raves Time magazine. yet within the wake of 11th of September, Smiley faltered in her hitherto unflagging impulse to jot down and determined to technique novels from a special perspective: she learn 100 of them, from classics equivalent to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fresh fiction through Zadie Smith, Nicholson Baker, and Alice Munro.
Smiley explores–as no novelist has sooner than her–the extraordinary intimacy of analyzing, why a unique succeeds (or doesn’t), and the way the radical has replaced through the years. She describes a novelist as “right at the cusp among somebody who is familiar with every little thing and anyone who understands nothing,” but whose “job and ambition is to advance a idea 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 throughout the booklet of her newest novel, Good religion, and, in important chapters on the way to write “a novel of your own,” deals useful recommendation to aspiring authors.
Thirteen methods of the radical may volume to a unusual type of autobiography. We see Smiley studying in mattress with a chocolate bar; mulling over plot twists whereas cooking dinner for her relations; even, on the age of twelve, devouring Sherlock Holmes mysteries, which she later discovered have been between her earliest literary versions for plot and character.
And in an exciting end, Smiley considers separately the only hundred books she learn, from Don Quixote to Lolita to Atonement, presenting her personal insights and infrequently debatable opinions. In its scope and gleeful eclecticism, her examining record is among the so much compelling–and surprising–ever assembled.
Engaging, clever, occasionally irreverent, Thirteen Ways is vital analyzing for an individual who has ever escaped into the pages of a singular or, for that subject, desired to write one. In Smiley’s personal phrases, ones she came across herself turning to over the process her trip: “Read this. I wager you’ll like it.”
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Extra resources for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
Given the choice between death or the betrayal of another slave by Legree, Tom chooses death. Given the choice of killing Legree, by Cassy, Tom refuses to imperil his immortal soul by committing murder. In every circumstance, Tom makes his decisions according to his conscience and then hopes for the best, always bolstered by the conviction that this world is ephemeral and one's true reward is in heaven. In the context of the novel, Tom is virtuous, but his virtue is based on an understandable logic.
The veil that suspense and style throw over construction on the first reading or two lifts, and the author's plotting becomes more and more clear. I learned about the logical construction of plot and the clear construction of character. The Hound of the Basfyervilles was not the best novel I read at that time in my life, but it was the most clearly constructed. As I reread it today, it seems obvious and pedestrian, but I imbibed a good deal from it early in my literary career because it was complicated enough to interest me, but not so complicated as to be utterly seamless and impossible to dissect.
Defoe was inspired by the adventures of Alexander Selkirk, the original castaway, but his own inner life told him what to do with Robinson Crusoe. WHO IS A NOVELIST? Defoe was conversant with a wealth of English dialects, spoken and written, urban and rural. In addition to being narrated in the first person, his books are full of dialogue; they also quote advertisements and bills and documents. For our purposes, they sample the English language of the early eighteenth century in a prolific and unexcelled manner.
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley