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Despite the usual McSweeney’s fondness for writers of lyrical soap operas, New Yorker fictions, or navelgazing American writers, and the predictable reference points—Hemingway, Carver, Updike—this bumper crop of writers talking to writers is pleasant train fare. The interviewers range from upcoming writers (at the time—this is from 2005) such as ZZ Packer and Adam Thirlwell to well-known names like Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers. The interviewees are eclectic, spanning generations and writing subcu...
From The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 2006, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, pp. 153-154Donna Seaman. Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. Paul Dry Books. 2005. 467 pp. $24.95. Vendela Vida. The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers. Believer Books, 2005. 485 pp. Paper: $18.00.When a writer is interviewed, there’s often the risk that he or she will come off like an idiot or inadvertently gut their work of significance. Neither of those things is avoided in the books under review, but
I really found The Believer Book Of Writers Talking To Writers edited by Vendela Vida useful, interesting, and entertaining. The main reason I picked up this collection is that it contained interviews with some of my favorite contemporary writers like Tobias Wolff, Joan, Didion, Haruki Murakami, Ian McEwen, August Wilson, Marilynne Robinson, Marajane Satrapi, and Edward P. Jones. In fact, in Jones case I knew almost nothing about this writer with an underprivileged background who wrote the impre...
I was planning on giving this book a 3 leaning towards 3.5, but it finished strong. I think a thought from Tobias Wolff illustrates the book's strength: it provides some access to a community of writers. While often short on advice (though what is shared is quite good), the book provides access to what writers think and do and how they participate in the world, and I think that's valuable.Favorites, in some sort of order, wereGeorge SaundersTom StoppardMarilynne RobinsonSusan StraightHaruki Maru...
Well worth it just for the interview with marilynne robinson. I haven't even read any of the other interviews, but i could read m.r. all day long.
if you're as obsessed about other writers' habits/processes as i am, this is an excellent place to start digging up great little idiosyncratic gems.
This is a WONDERFUL book for anyone interested in the creative process, literary theory, or just knowing that most authors are not infallible, but actually, usually scared shitless.
Zadie Smith talks to Ian McEwan, Dave Eggers with Joan Didion, Sean Wilsey and Haruki Murakami, Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster...you can see where I'm going with this.
Excellent collection of interviews between writers.
Lots of writing (and just plain human) wisdom strewn throughout this book...a few interviews were a bit ponderous and inaccessible (I won't name names), but the majority were excellent to-and-fro conversations stretching over a breadth of genres, years and experiences and a few other countries than just America and the UK. You may even pick up a few good reading suggestions...I did!
Pleasant enough--been chewing my way through this one for a few years now, but finished it up. A real variety of interviews.
This is another one of those pick and choose books. I didn't read everything in it, only what interested me. Michelle Tea is amazing. Dave Eggers is amazing. Zadie Smith is amazing. I particularly loved Michelle Tea's interview with Felicia Luna Lemus. I've read all of the books by both these authors, they are among my top favorites and it was cool to read a dialog between these two influential ladies. Joan Didion is pretty crazy and awesome.
I've read numerous books on writers and the writing process, but this one took that conversation a bit deeper. And, it was great to see that some of my favorite writers have their own literary-crushes on other writers! I have to admit, I haven't read every interview in the book, but of the ones I've covered, I was very fond of Zadie Smith interviewing Ian McEwan. Good stuff.
I'm almost at a loss for word here. This book is codeine for a struggling artist. That's got its upsides and its not-so-upsides. But, if you're the type of person who cries when people say nice things about making art, or finds the intricacies of someone's art-making rituals extraordinarily intriguing, then this book is for you.
I haven't had time or space for my own writing in nearly two weeks and am meanwhile trying to feed that part of myself, somewhat desperately, by reading segments of this at bedtime. It helps. First I read the interviews with writers I know and admire (e.g. Tobias Wolff); now I'm reading the rest and find that they are equally interesting.
A diverse, thought-provoking collection of conversations. They focus on the theory and craft of fiction writing, but there is so much more--culture, philosophy, history, psychology, aesthetics, love, death, and I could go on. Recommended for anyone interested in writing or literature. Some interviews are better than others; I particularly like the one with George Saunders.
The interviews that I read were mostly interesting--I skipped over some that I wasn't interested in/authors that I wasn't really familiar with. I like the writing process and writers talking about it. Favorite: Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan. Hooray!
Candid, funny, inspiring --- I think because the two people talking are already friends and peers (rather than interviewer/author), the trains of thought are so much more natural and conversational than you get with typical interviews. Great match-ups, unabashedly fun and easy to read.
Inspiring and though-provoking. It's nice to get an inside look at the processes of some of my favorite writers (Amy Hempel, JOAN DIDION!), and comforting to learn that they're actually real people. Noteworthy: Several Q and A's regarding the pros and cons of an MFA program.
I only read a few essays from this book. I didn't know a lot of the writers or authors that they were interviewing. The ones that I did read, I really enjoyed...and what do we writer's enjoy most? Talking about writing to other writers. (Okay, maybe not most...but enjoy for sure.)
like a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I'm still slowly, patiently, sipping it, letting myself awash with the aroma of its diversity, its wisdom and its inspiration. Easily one of the must have books for all time, especially if you are into writers, writing and the world in general.
When it's good, it's great. The Tom Stoppard conversation drew me to it, and I found that one to be top of the pile. The Marilynne Robinson one was great as well. The Banville conversation makes me interested to actually read him. The Lethem/Auster conversation nauseated me.
Thought-provoking. You'll walk away from this with an appreciation for the writers interviewed and the craft of writing, a list of books you'll want to read, and a burr in your saddle to get that story you've got inside of you out into the world.
I'm not sure how interesting people without a passion for writing will find this book, as it has a 'writers talking shop' feel, but I would highly recommend it to those not immediately turned off by that description.
A bunch of chatty authors mostly talking about their craft. There were a few who just wanted to talk about other things. These could have been easily omitted....really. I didn't buy the book for mundane chit chat. I gave the book 5 stars on the strength of the other interesting interviews.
This collection scintillates! Every piece sent me scrambling to read the books mentioned and to explore the writing of people I have heard of but haven't read. If you love books about reading or writing, you will be so pleased with this book!
Liked the Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster interview. The word 'ekphrasis' is forever etched in my memory. Most of the other interviews were also good. I remember the ones with Jennifer Egan, A.L. Kennedy and George Saunders being insightful.
I had a lot of fun reading this collection of interviews. I always enjoy craft talks like these. This collection provide a good mix of light and serious topics. I think this would be an excellent resource for creative writing teachers.
The match-ups were interesting but not everyone kick up sparks.
Generally interesting. Of course, I was most interested in the pieces by writers with whom I'm familiar, but most everyone had something interesting to say.