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SCRATCH

WRITERS, MONEY, AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING

Highly recommended for both experienced and aspiring authors and for avid readers who want to learn the back stories of the...

The founder of the online journal Scratch, loaded with information about how authors labor to earn a livelihood, collects essays and interviews that appeared online and supplements those with original offerings.

In this well-organized, fascinating anthology, a host of fiction and nonfiction authors share practical tips and emotional intelligence. Among the best-known authors included are Susan Orlean, Cheryl Strayed, Jonathan Franzen, Roxane Gay, Jennifer Weiner, Richard Rodriguez, and Nick Hornby, all of whose contributions are worthy. Yet many of the most compelling essays come from lesser-known writers, some of whom have yet to publish a book. One such standout is Sarah Smarsh, a former grant writer and current magazine writer who splits her time between her native Kansas and her new home in Texas and whose first book will be published in 2017. Smarsh specializes in writing about poverty, especially the poverty of relatively uneducated whites; in her essay, she reflects on making the jump from her family's poverty to higher education and, eventually, a promising writing career. In “The Best Work in Literature,” anthology editor Martin, the managing editor of Zoetrope: All Story, grapples with similar issues, sharing anecdotes about trying to pay the rent and eat properly in an economy that pays poorly for published writing. Each contributor deals directly or indirectly with the often unhappy intersection of commerce and art in the contemporary American economy. For every commercial success story—e.g., Strayed, Weiner, Franzen, or Alexander Chee—there are countless failures. At times, what can best be termed as "luck" arrives, as in the essay by Nina MacLaughlin, who explains how a piece she reluctantly agreed to write for no pay led to a book contract.

Highly recommended for both experienced and aspiring authors and for avid readers who want to learn the back stories of the contributors.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3457-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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