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Ebook The Art of Fiction by John Gardner read! Book Title: The Art of Fiction
The author of the book: John Gardner
ISBN: 0394725441
ISBN 13: 9780394725444
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 562 KB
Edition: Vintage
Date of issue: June 4th 1991

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This is one of very, very many books on how to write fiction. Gardner's book strives to offer more than the multitude of alternatives do, however, and, generally, I'd say he succeeds.

The first half of the book is devoted to more theoretical discussions of the art of fiction, some of which is very useful and some of which is quite particular to Gardner's own literary tastes. And his tastes definitely color the advice he gives. It is mostly sound advice for those who wish to write fiction in the tradition of the "greats" (e.g., classical literature and such relatively modern writers as Tolstoy and Melville), but it is provided with a heaping side dish of condescension for everyone else. (Particularly troublesome for me is his repeated dismissal and unwarranted criticism of literature teachers.)

Reading Gardner's book requires the ability to let condescension and elitism slide. He frequently comes off as a pompous jerk, but he's a pompous jerk who knows his stuff. Attitude problems aside, after all, Gardner does provide great advice and a clear theoretical approach to writing fiction.

For practical purposes, the second half of the book, devoted to a discussion of common mistakes and how to avoid them, is particularly useful. In the first half of the book, Gardner develops the idea that fiction should be as an uninterrupted dream, that technique should bolster the experience of this dream and not interrupt it. So the common errors and techniques he discusses primarily address this issue of creating a fictional world and assisting the reader in the uninhibited and uninterrupted experience of it. He discusses such problems as inappropriate or inconsistent diction, problems within sentences (accidental rhyme, inappropriate rhythm, overloaded sentences), careless shifts in psychic distance, and "faults of soul" (by which he means sentimentality, frigidity, and mannerism--I'm not sure they have to do with the soul, really, but his criticisms of their presence in literature are well-presented). Most practically useful and least often found in other books on writing fiction that I have read are 1) the section on rhythm in writing prose, in which he provides sample sentences analyzed with metrical analysis and briefly discusses poetic terminology I'd forgotten (iambs, dactyls, anapests, etc.) in the interest of helping the writer make artistic decisions on a sentence by sentence level, and 2) a chapter on plotting, in which he discusses various approaches to plotting and how these various approaches may work well or less well with different forms (e.g., short story, novella, novel) or with different plot structures. This chapter is particularly helpful because of his extended examples. He models the way the process would work in much the same way a good teacher models practices and behavior in class. This is immensely helpful, even if I do not agree with all of his ideas about what kinds of stories are worth writing. His advice, in the end, is useful only for realist fiction. If you are interested in metafiction or more experimental techniques, you will need to go elsewhere.

Even with my reservations about Gardner's attitude, and even with the limitations he imposes, I would consider using this text to teach, were I ever in a position to teach creative writing. It would certainly not be the only text I would use (I would want to have a less condescending counter to Gardner), but it would likely prove quite useful, if not in full, then at least in part. If nothing else, the long list of exercises at the end of the book is worth pillaging for use in my current freshman writing courses as applied to personal writing and developing a consistent and compelling style.

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Ebook The Art of Fiction read Online! John Champlin Gardner was a well-known and controversial American novelist and university professor, best known for his novel Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf myth.

Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. His father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer, and his mother taught English at a local school. Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together. As a child, Gardner attended public school and worked on his father's farm, where, in April of 1945, his younger brother Gilbert was killed in an accident with a cultipacker. Gardner, who was driving the tractor during the fatal accident, carried guilt for his brother's death throughout his life, suffering nightmares and flashbacks. The incident informed much of Gardner's fiction and criticism — most directly in the 1977 short story "Redemption," which included a fictionalized recounting of the accident.

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