Book Review: Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose

Image Description: book cover of Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
Title: Reading Like A Writer
Author: Francine Prose
Social Media: Facebook and Goodreads
Publisher: Union Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh

About The Author:
Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman’s Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

About The Book:
In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humor, and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart – to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; she is deeply moved by the brilliant characterization in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She looks to John Le Carré for a lesson in how to advance plot through dialogue and to Flannery O’Connor for the cunning use of the telling detail. And, most important, Prose cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which all literature is crafted

General Observations:
~Academic: This is a great academic reference for people studying writing or doing literature studies at University, I definitely recommend it on those grounds. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s an academic resource did make for dry reading, I honestly think it’s difficult to make a subject like this interesting, so this could just be a problem with myself (especially since I’m easily distracted).

~How Long Is A Piece of String?: There are some literary ideas that translate well into short-stories or short essays, but don’t translate well into an entire novel, a short-story is easy to read and justify but a novel is a commitment of time and effort. I can’t help but feel that the author made their main point within the first few chapters and that this was better off being a long essay than an entire novel. The novel doesn’t appear to have an easily traceable thread to follow, when I read this novel, I couldn’t tell how the books interconnected together (apart from being considered University level-readings or books considered classics) into an overall theme or arch.

In conclusion, a good acedemic reference that was a little too dry and aimless for my interests, however, I would still be happy to recommend it to others interested in this field of study.

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