Synopses & Reviews
The Real Stories Behind Everyone's Favorite Novels-from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Great Gatsby.
Every great book begins with an idea, whether it comes to a writer's mind with lightning speed or tugs at the imagination over time. Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway offers stories of the inspiration behind fifty classic works, from The Sound and the Fury, Jane Eyre, and Frankenstein to Anna Karenina, The Bell Jar, and Winnie-the-Pooh.
Gabriel García Márquez was driving to Acapulco with his family when he slammed on the brakes, turned the car around, and insisted they abandon their trip so he could return home to write. He had good reason to cut the trip short-a childhood memory of touching ice had suddenly sparked the first line to a novel that would become his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
C. S. Lewis, on the other hand, spent decades pondering the scene that inspired The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When Lewis was sixteen, he had a peculiar daydream: a faun carried a bundle of parcels and an umbrella through snow-covered woods. Lewis was almost forty when he decided to write a novel that grew around the vision.
In Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway, you'll discover who Edgar Allan Poe's raven really belonged to, whether Jane Austen's heartthrob Mr. Darcy actually existed, who got into mischief with a young Mark Twain, and what the real Sherlock Holmes did for a living. These delightful stories reveal the often unknown reasons our literary heroes put quill to parchment, pen to paper, or finger to keyboard to write some of the world's best-loved books.
"In this cornucopia for aspiring writers and trivia fans, Johnson (co-founder of Slice Literary) draws from research, first- and second-hand accounts, and 'myths' to explore what inspired some of Western literature's titans and beloved children's authors, including: Tolstoy, Pasternak, Cervantes, Hemingway, Faulkner, Tolkien, Twain, Woolf, and others. Johnson's approach will best suit readers who are familiar with these authors and their signature works, since she assumes prior knowledge and forgoes biographical backgrounds and plot summaries in favor of succinct, genial sketches that enliven the moment creativity struck. Sections often conclude with positive results through publication or subsequent recognition. While some authors were inspired by real personages, memories, everyday incidents, travel, and other stories, others were driven by larger, political consequences (Orwell's Animal Farm), or crimes (Capote's In Cold Blood). Darker sources of inspiration are attributed to Burroughs, who, after killing his wife, wrote to stave off the 'Ugly Spirit,' and Vonnegut, who recalled the bombing of Dresden. Johnson narrates with wonderment, effectively balancing the romantic image of authors composing in reverie with the reality that disruptions between initial thought and finalized manuscript are common. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Every great writer has a unique way of setting a story to paper. And, it turns out, many of these writers used methods that were just as inventive as the works they produced. Odd Type Writers explores the quirky writing habits of renowned authors, including Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Alexandre Dumas, among many others.
* To meet his deadline for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo placed himself under strict house arrest, locking up all of his clothes and wearing nothing but a large gray shawl until he finished the book.
* Virginia Woolf used purple ink for love letters, diary entries, and to pen her acclaimed novel Mrs. Dalloway. Also, in her twenties, she preferred to write while standing up.
* Friedrich Schiller kept a drawer full of rotten apples in his study. According to his wife, he couldnt work without that pungent odor wafting into his nose.
* Eudora Welty evaluated her work with scissors handy. If anything needed to be moved, she cut it right out of the page. Then shed use pins to put the section in its new place.
In Odd Type Writers, youll find out why James Joyce wrote in crayon, what Edgar Allan Poes cat was doing on his shoulder, why Vladimir Nabokov had to keep his feet wet, and the other peculiar tools and eccentric methods used to compose some of the greatest works of all time.
About the Author
Celia Blue Johnson is the editor of two poetry anthologies, 100 Great Poems for Girls and 100 Poems to Lift Your Spirits. Celia is also the cofounder of Slice Literary, a Brooklyn- based nonprofit organization that has been featured in Time Out New York, the New Yorker, and the New York Times. She has interviewed several bestselling and award-winning writers for Slice magazine.