Synopses & Reviews
William Zinsser's journey to all the places where he has done his writing and his teaching begins in 1946, with his first job at the New York Herald Tribune
, a community of legendary journalists and oddballs, in its postwar years of glory. Next came 11 years of freelance writing for magazines, mainly covering the turbulent 1960s for Life
, a period that found the writer and his typewriter perched in many unusual locations.
After that he spent a decade at Yale University, where his office as master of Branford College was beneath a 44-bell carillon. At Yale he originated his famous "nonfiction workshop," which would launch the careers of many exceptional writers and editors. That course led to his classic book On Writing Well, which he wrote during the summer of 1974 in a crude shed in Connecticut. In this new memoir, Zinsser recalls the processes that went into creating that original edition and revising it over the next 30 years to keep pace with changes in the language and culture of America. His journey brings him back to New York City and to writing articles and books in quirky rented offices, one of which had a fire pole.
Written with humor and with gratitude for a lifetime of change and self-discovery, relishing a rich cast of characters that ranges from Yale's president Kingman Brewster to the actor Peter Sellers and the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Writing Places never loses its anchor in the craft of writing — how writing is taught, learned and finally brought to a high level of enjoyment.
"Influential journalist, author and educator Zinsser (American Places, Easy to Remember) produces an elegantly written memoir, featuring an array of vividly drawn tales from 50-plus years of writing, reporting and teaching in London, the Hamptons, Yale University and elsewhere. A master of storytelling, what makes Zinsser's memoir most effective is the gentle connection he forms with nearly everyone who enters his life, from his students at Yale, who treated Zinsser as a trusted confidante, to the elusive golf-ball thief 'Mr. Roby,' who Zinsser celebrated in a Saturday Evening Post article. Zinsser also chronicles his days as a writer for the Herald Tribune and Life, as well as the lean times when freelance work alone sustained him. Zinsser also delves into the development of his own non-fiction writing course at Yale, his bestseller On Writing Well, and a multitude of other articles and books. With careful introspection and nothing but gratitude for the people in his life, Zinsser makes perfect sense out of his long, strange journey." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“William Zinsser turns his zest, warmth and curiosity—his sharp but forgiving eye—on his own story. The result is lively, funny and moving, especially for anyone who cares about art and the business of writing well.”
—Evan Thomas, Newsweek
In Writing Places, William Zinsser—the author of On Writing Well, the bestseller that has inspired two generations of writers, journalists, and students—recalls the many colorful and instructive places where he has worked and taught. Gay Talese, author of A Writers Life, calls Writing Places, “Wonderful,” while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praises this unique memoir for possessing “all the qualities that Zinsser believes matter most in good writing—clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity.”
About the Author
William Zinsser is a writer, editor and teacher. He began his career with the New York Herald Tribune and has been a longtime contributor to leading magazines. His 17 books include On Writing Well and most recently Writing About Your Life. During the 1970s he taught writing at Yale, where he was master of Branford College. He now teaches at the New School in New York, his hometown, and at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.