The Writer at Work
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A moving testimony to passion for the written word, and to the inherent difficulties of becoming a purveyor of both language and ideas. Cultural critic, memoirist (Wound of Passion: A Writing Life, 1997), and professor of English (City Coll.) hooks’s love of language has spurred her to explore various genres and match content to form in a way that most academics do not. “Any writer” she says, “who strives to be true to artistic integrity surrenders to the shape the work takes of its own accord.” In Remembered Rapture, her 17th book, she again resists categorization, fusing autobiography with cultural essay, refracting a larger social dynamic through the prism of her experience as a writer who also happens to be a black woman. She reveals her own story in order to make points about creativity, publishing, criticism—even the intersection of spirituality and politics. The word “rapture” speaks to the reality of writing as a solitary meditation: “In that moment of grace when the words come, when I surrender to their ecstatic power, there is no witness,” she says. Except that hooks expertly witnesses her own process. This volume functions not only as a testament to the importance of creative expression, but also as a commentary on the prevailing market forces that determine the viability of that work. And hooks, in her usual, forthright and engaging style, makes plain her opinions: on the dearth of nonfiction by black women authors, the role of race in the critical reception of new work, and the cynicism of the publishing industry. What could have been a caustic, scathing collection of essays, however, proves to be just the opposite: generous, open, and inspiring. Not every essay here offers that visceral jolt of critical insight, but then hooks is writing about the creative process as much as the state of publishing; her success lies in her ability to transmit the joy of writing well. And she does. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8050-5909-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998


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