Synopses & Reviews
For Denis Johnson, it was Leonard Gardner's cult favorite andlt;iandgt;Fat Cityandlt;/iandgt;; for Jonathan Safran Foer, it was a brief encounter with Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai; Mary Gordon's mentors were two Barnard professors, writers Elizabeth Hardwick and Janice Thaddeus, whose lessons could not have been more different. In andlt;iandgt;Mentors, Muses and Monstersandlt;/iandgt;, edited and with a contribution by Elizabeth Benedict, author of the National Book Award finalist andlt;iandgt;Slow Dancingandlt;/iandgt;, thirty of today's brightest literary lights turn their attention to the question of mentorship and influence, exploring the people, events, and books that have transformed their lives. The result is an astonishing collection of stirring, insightful, and sometimes funny personal essays. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; In her communications with contributors, Benedict noticed a longing to thank the people who had changed their lives, and to acknowledge them the best way a storyteller can, by revealing the intricacies of their connection. These writers look back to when something powerful happened to them at an unpredictable age, a moment when a role model saw potential in them, or when they came to understand they possessed literary talent themselves. As most of these encounters occurred when the writers were young -- unsure of who they were or what they could accomplish -- several pieces radiate a poignant tenderness, and almost all of them express enduring gratitude. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; When Joyce Carol Oates describes her public-rivalry-turned-wary-professional-acquaintanceship with Donald Barthelme, we are privy to the fascinating sight of one of today's most important writers being directly, personally affected by another influential writer. When Sigrid Nunez reveals what it was like to be Susan Sontag's protand#233;gand#233;, we get a glimpse into the private life and working philosophy of a formidable public intellectual. And when Jane Smiley describes her first year at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974, she offers an intimate portrait of a literary milieu of enduring significance for American literature. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Rich, thought-provoking, and often impassioned, these pieces illuminate not only the anxiety but the necessity of influence -- and also the treasures it yields. By revealing themselves as young men and women in search of direction and meaning, these artists explore the endlessly varied paths to creative awakening and literary acclaim.
Benedict delivers a collection of essays by 30 of today's most important writers, detailing the people, events, or books that have influenced their writing.
A collection of essays by 30 of today's most important writers--including Jonathan Safran Foer, Jane Smiley, Anita Shreve, ZZ Packer, and Joyce Carol Oates--details the people, events, or books that have influenced their writing.
About the Author
Elizabeth Benedict is the author of five novels, including the bestseller andlt;iandgt;Almost andlt;/iandgt;(which andlt;iandgt;Fresh Airand#8217;s andlt;/iandgt;Maureen Corrigan chose as one of her top five novels of 2001),andlt;Iandgt; The Practice of Deceit, andlt;/Iandgt;and andlt;iandgt;Slow Dancing, andlt;/iandgt;which wasandlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;short-listed for the National Book Award and The andlt;iandgt;LA Timesandlt;/iandgt; Book Prize. She is also the author of andlt;iandgt;The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writersandlt;/iandgt;, which is used widely in creative writing programs in the US and abroad. She writes regularly about books and culture for andlt;iandgt;The Huffington Postandlt;/iandgt; and has just launched a regular Huff Po column, and#8220;Read Any Good Books Lately?and#8221; Her nonfiction also appears in andlt;iandgt;The New York Times, Esquire, Tin House, Harperand#8217;s Bazaar, The American Prospect, Allure, Salmagundi, andlt;/iandgt;and many other publications. Sheand#8217;s taught fiction and non-fiction writing at Princeton, the Iowa Writersand#8217; Workshop, Swarthmore College, and the Harvard Extension. She lives in New York City and Boston.