Synopses & Reviews
A chance encounter between two writers — one young, one older — develops into a wonderful friendship neither expected. Frank Conroy, the author of the classic memoir Stop-Time
, meets Tom Grimes, an aspiring writer and an applicant to the Iowa Writers Workshop, which Conroy directs. First as teacher and student and gradually as friends their lives become entwined, and through both successes and disappointments, their bond deepens.
Exquisitely written, Mentor explores the writing life and the role of a very important teacher while offering an inside view of the most famous writing program in the world and the sometimes sordid business of publishing. Honest. Heartbreaking. Poignant. Grimes entered the Writers' Workshop with the dream of being a writer. Two years later, he left with that and much more.
"An illuminating account of a writer's life under the tutelage of another writer....Without wasting a word, Grimes presents a thoroughly readable view of how stories — and writers, at least of a certain kind — are made." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[A] candid and finely wrought memoir....Grimes' staggering self-critique, keen tribute to Conroy as writer and mentor, and hard-won insights into the true demands of writing and the deep resonance of literature are arresting and cautionary, inspiring and affecting." Booklist
"From now on, anyone who dreams of becoming a novelist will need to read Tom Grimes's brutally honest and wonderful Mentor. While there have been plenty of books on how to write, or how to get published, or how to promote your work, as well as a number of triumphalist accounts of 'making it,' this is a story of what it's like to just miss succeeding." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"It's astonishing how much insight, passion, pain, joy, self-doubt, and sheer love Tom Grimes has managed to pack into this tightly made memoir of his relationship with the writer Frank Conroy....Mentor is a beautiful, beautiful book — a monument both to Frank Conroy and to the writer's terrifying quest for artistic excellence." Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried
"Mentor is a fine and unique achievement. It's moving as the record of a first rate writer's early career. But its uniqueness lies in its treatment of something quite ineffable, the way in which a major artist can nourish the talents and maintain the confidence of a younger one....Frank Conroy was a wild, wildly talented, phenomenal artist. Tom Grimes has served his memory superbly." Robert Stone, author of Dog Soldiers
An intimate look at the writing life, the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop, the fickle publishing world, and an extraordinary friendship with Frank Conroy.
About the Author
Tom Grimes is the author of five novels, a play, and a memoir. He edited The Workshop: Seven Decades from the Iowa Writers Workshop, the creative writing program from which he graduated. He now directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University.