Synopses & Reviews
A tribute to the brilliant craftsmanship of one of our most distinguished writers, providing valuable insight into her inspiration and her method
Joyce Carol Oates is widely regarded as one of America's greatest contemporary literary figures. Having written in a number of genres -- prose, poetry, personal and critical essays, as well as plays -- she is an artist ideally suited to answer essential questions about what makes a story striking, a novel come alive, a writer an artist as well as a craftsman.
In The Faith of a Writer, Oates discusses the subjects most important to the narrative craft, touching on topics such as inspiration, memory, self-criticism, and "the unique power of the unconscious." On a more personal note, she speaks of childhood inspirations, offers advice to young writers, and discusses the wildly varying states of mind of a writer at work. Oates also pays homage to those she calls her "significant predecessors" and discusses the importance of reading in the life of a writer.
Oates claims, "Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make 'art': for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design." In fourteen succinct chapters, The Faith of a Writer provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience are assembled to create art.
"The essays are peppered with anecdotes concerning writers' trials, doubts and influences; these well-selected snippets form the most enjoyable and illuminating aspect of the book." Publishers Weekly
"Gloriously well read and unfailingly curious about those who have shared her obsession...Oates is commanding in her knowledge and deeply moving in her candor, such as when she notes that people always ask how she writes so much, rather than why." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"[Readers] desiring to know more about this versatile writer or those who aspire to write will find the essays instructive, albeit...more general than those found in how-to-write manuals." Library Journal
A tribute to the brilliant craftsmanship of one of America's most distinguished writers, providing valuable insight into her inspiration and her method.
The distinguished writer offers a candid and graceful account, providing valuable insight into her inspiration and her method.
About the Author
Award-winning author, Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 and grew up in upstate New York.While a scholarship student at Syracuse University, she won the coveted Mademoiselle
fiction contest. She graduated as valedictorian, then earned an M.A. at the University of Wisconsin. In 1968, she began teaching at the University of Windsor. In 1978, she moved to New Jersey to teach creative writing at Princeton University, where she is now the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
A prolific writer, Joyce Carol Oates has produced some of the most controversial, and lasting, fiction of our time. Her novel, them, set in racially volatile 1960s Detroit, won the 1970 National Book Award. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart focused on an interracial teenage romance. Black Water, a narrative based on the Kennedy-Chappaquiddick scandal, garnered a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and her national bestseller Blonde, an epic work on American icon Marilyn Monroe, became a National Book Award Finalist. Although Joyce Carol Oates has called herself, "a serious writer, as distinct from entertainers or propagandists," her novels have enthralled a wide audience, and We Were the Mulvaneys earned the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.
Table of Contents
My Faith as a Writer 1
District School #7, Niagara County, New York 3
First Loves: From "Jabberwocky" to "After Apple Picking" 13
To a Young Writer 23
Running and Writing 29
"What Sin to me Unknown ..." 37
Notes on Failure 51
Reading as a Writer: The Artist as Craftsman 93
The Enigmatic Art of Self-Criticism 127
The Writer's Studio 137
Blonde Ambition: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates 143
"JCO" and I (After Borges) 153