How Fiction Works

How Fiction Works

Paperback - 2008
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In the tradition of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel , How Fiction Works is a scintillating study of the magic of fiction--an analysis of its main elements and a celebration of its lasting power. Here one of the most prominent and stylish critics of our time looks into the machinery of storytelling to ask some fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we "know" a fictional character? What constitutes a telling detail? When is a metaphor successful? Is Realism realistic? Why do some literary conventions become dated while others stay fresh?

James Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Make Way for Ducklings , from the Bible to John le Carré, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, How Fiction Works will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone else interested in what happens on the page.

Publisher: New York : Picador, c2008.
Edition: 1st Picador ed.
ISBN: 9780312428471
0312428472
Characteristics: xviii, 265 p. ; 18 cm.

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danulb
Oct 26, 2014

One of the best books I've read on fiction. This is the third time I'm reading this book. Also, highly recommend his other nonfiction books.

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lukasevansherman
Jan 11, 2014

There has been a quiet and gradual collapse of literary culture, which leaves very few prominent critics in our society (Harold Bloom stands out). Gone are the days when Edmund Wilson and Lionel Trilling could set taste and be public intellectuals. New Yorker book critic James Wood is probably one of the last of this breed. "How Fiction Works" operates as an entertaining, if high-brow, crash course in the mechanics of fiction, from characterization to dialogue to prose style. It can get a bit technical, but it's certainly valuable and informative for those with a lit background.

ser_library Dec 30, 2013

readers and aspiring writers will enjoy the examples and the theory

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