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The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963by Gail Godwin
Synopses & Reviews
Gail Godwin was twenty-four years old and working as a waitress in the North Carolina mountains when she wrote: "I want to be everybody who is great; I want to create everything that has ever been created." It is a declaration that only a wildly ambitious young writer would make in the privacy of her journal. In the heady days of her literary apprenticeship, Godwin kept a daily chronicle of her dreams and desires, her travels, love affairs, struggles, and breakthroughs. Now, at the urging of her friend Joyce Carol Oates, Godwin has distilled these early journals, which run from 1961 to 1963, to their brilliant and charming essence. <BR>The Making of a Writer opens during the feverish period following the breakup of Godwin's first marriage and her stint as a reporter for The Miami Herald. Aware that she is entering one of the great turning points of her life as she prepares to move to Europe, Godwin writes of the "100 different hungers" that consume her on the eve of departure. A whirlwind trip to New York, the passengers and their stories on board the SS Oklahoma, the shock of her first encounters with Danish customs (and Danish men)-Godwin wonderfully conveys the excitement of a writer embracing a welter of new experience.<BR>After a long, dark Scandinavian winter and a gloriously romantic interlude in the Canary Islands, Godwin moves to London and embarks on the passionate engagements that will inspire some of her finest stories. She records the pleasures of soaking in the human drama on long rambles through the London streets-and the torment of lonely Sundays spent wrestling these impressions into prose. She shares her passion for Henry James, Marcel Proust, Lawrence Durrell, ThomasWolfe-and her terror of facing twenty-six with nothing to show but a rejected novel and a stack of debts. "I do not feel like a failure," Godwin insists as she sits down yet again to the empty page. "I will keep writing, harder than ever."<BR>Like Virginia Woolf's A Writer'
Gail Godwin was twenty-four years old when she wrote: “I want to be everybody who is great; I want to create everything that has ever been created.” It is a declaration that only a wildly ambitious young writer would make in the privacy of her journal. Now, in The Making of a Writer, Godwin has distilled her early journals, which run from 1961 to 1963, to their brilliant and charming essence. She conveys the feverish period following the breakup of her first marriage; the fateful decision to move to Europe and the shock of her first encounters with Danish customs (and Danish men); the pleasures of soaking in the human drama on long rambles through the London streets and the torment of lonely Sundays spent wrestling these impressions into prose; and the determination to create despite rejection and a growing stack of debts. “I do not feel like a failure,” Godwin insists. “I will keep writing, harder than ever.”
Brimming with urgency and wit, Godwins inspiring tome opens a shining window into the life and craft of a great writer just coming into her own.
“A generous gift from a much-loved author to her readers.”
“Full of lively, entertaining observations on the literary life . . . [captures] the spirit of a young writers adventure into foreign lands and foreign realms of thought and creative endeavor.”
-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“As cities and continents and men change, the entries are borne along by . . . the young Godwins fierce conviction that she is meant to write fiction and her desire to distract herself from this mission with any man who catches her eye.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“[Godwin] describes a high-wire act of love and work. . . . She espouses fierce, uncompromising ideas about fiction.”
-Los Angeles Times
“[Gail Godwins journals] are a gold mine.”
-The Boston Globe
About the Author
Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award nominee and the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholys Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, Evenings at Five, and, most recently, Queen of the Underworld. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961—1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant for both fiction and libretto writing. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. Visit the authors website at www.gailgodwin.com.
Rob Neufeld is a librarian and a book reviewer for the Asheville Citizen-Times. He directs the “Together We Read” program for Western North Carolina.
From the Hardcover edition.
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