[James Wood] How Fiction Works [presidents Book] Epub – PDF, DOC & Kindle eBook free

  • Paperback
  • 265
  • How Fiction Works
  • James Wood
  • English
  • 09 October 2018
  • 9780312428471

10 thoughts on “How Fiction Works

  1. says:

    “When I talk about free indirect style I am really talking about point of view and when I talk about point of view I am really talking about the perception of detail and when I talk about detail I'm really talking about character and when

  2. says:

    Critics often get a bad reputation and likely deservingly so I often reflect on a uote by Macedonio Fernández that a critic knows nothing of what perfect literature is but only what it is not and especially while writing on Goodreads am constantly haunted by Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation I tend to think of critics as being that friend in high school that hangs out at your band practice He is the friend that kno

  3. says:

    For 75 pages this was all clang clang clang goes the trolley ding ding ding goes the bell but then it turned a sharp corner and I think I done got throwed off the bus Ow As it rattled off without me I was left to think carefully about what I’

  4. says:

    What I love about books like this is that they are filled with gobbets I rewatched The History Boys also referenced at one point not too long ago including a casual reference to the ridiculousness that is Boney M and allow me to dip into books I would never consider reading or had up to that point never considered reading without necessarily looking to agree or disagree with what is being said instead just so

  5. says:

    This is a book I've read re read and re re read I go back to it freuently whenever I've finished one of the titles from its bibliography or just to revisit Wood's various topics Deceptively simple and uickly read If allowed HFW wil

  6. says:

    I kind of hate reading books of this sort as they leave me with a heightened awareness of style character rhythm etc that makes it difficult to read average or sub par fiction Of course the benefit of reading books like this is that I do cultivate a discriminatory taste so that I read only the best trashy novelsI haven't read any of Wood's criticisms but if this brief tome is any indication of the author's style erudition and insightfulnes

  7. says:

    A verymost entertaining and informative book about books and how writers make them from words placed in different orders Split into

  8. says:

    021116 this is gently deceptive as a title this is not how 'fiction' works but how a 'sort' of fiction works which happens to be his 'sort' and likely to be the 'sort' that interests someone who would read a book like this on the one acknowledged classics admired contemporary widely sourced on the other neither breathta

  9. says:

    I thought this book would be written with a writerly slant but no More with a readerly slant turns out Still as a writer wading into novel writing you can pick up a thing or two Up to you I imagine Wood thinking He's about

  10. says:

    Between the years 1910 and 1915 R A Torrey and A C Dixon compiled a series of books of essays entitled The Fundamentals With this ser

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James Wood Ê 3 review

How Fiction Works

Rom Homer to Make Way for Ducklings from the Bible to John le Carré and his book is both a study of the techniues 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 pag. A verymost entertaining and informative book about books and how writers make them from words placed in different orders Split into handy chapters but written as one lengthy essay with numerical subheadings Wood teaches us things from Flaubert James Joyce Foster Wallace and other masters and mistresses about how to identify bad writing from good and how free indirect style is a thing of beauty when done right Only trouble is his persistent disagreement with a William Gass uote that he milks for the whole book while soldering his argument into the pages Never disagree with The Gass Hauntings and such to be feared I have nothing else to add Regard the four stars and begone

read Õ eBook or Kindle ePUB Ê James Wood

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 i. For 75 pages this was all clang clang clang goes the trolley ding ding ding goes the bell but then it turned a sharp corner and I think I done got throwed off the bus Ow As it rattled off without me I was left to think carefully about what I m doing when I read a novel aside from avoiding the interminable election debates on tv OMG another 3 weeks to go and what I think a novel is doing or supposed to be doing It s good to be made to think about these things But why did I get throwed off the busThis jampacked little book is all about the why of novels and it s got some high standards to apply to both novels and readers so you better shape up you readers you Hey I do mean YOU Yeah That s rightIt s like James Wood expects us to be listening to some random tune and be able to name the bass player and the producer s previous hits and the singer s favourite drugs and where it got to in the charts and its relation to the minor essays of Jean Paul Sartre and Flaubert s left earlobeJames Wood is like the gold standard reader When you read David Foster Wallace you notice that he notices everything I mean everything and notices everything about himself noticing things and so on and so forth James Wood does all that while he reads every single novel Not one word passes casually beneath the Wood eyeballs Every phrase will be cross examined Every paragraph will have bamboo shoved up its fingernails until it confesses where it stands in regard to Stendahl Balzac and Dostoyevsky And Flaubert Frankly I was outclassed I was than a little crushed I was talked down to It had been made clear that I d got on the wrong bus Me Moi As the trolley lurched round another bend I was turning distinctly green It was all going so well when JW was discussing the free indirect style of modern narration which enables an indeterminate locus of reality to emerge which is not the character speaking and not the author either but a fifth dimension euipoised between the two All that was great But then he gets in to character a brief history of consciousness and sympathy and complexity Then the full florid obsessions emerged no 20th century only French and Russians Balzac More Flaubert Pushkin Stendahl Diderot Chekhov Tolstoy Yeah that s right punk All those guys you never read You were going to get round to them but well I don t know but you just never did Well I bet you re regretting that now because you can t talk about fiction without an intimate knowledge of alla those guys Sorry I bet you want to slink off back into the night now donchaGo ahead slinkWhen the 20th century is reluctantly allowed into JW s purview it s Hardy never read him Buddenbrooks never read it Proust same Italo Svevo huh Thomas Pynchon no thanks and Saul Bellow oh I read one by him the wrong one It must be said out loud James Wood is an old school patrician sneerer Even though he s earned the right to sneer a hundred times over there s still no need for it Here s where I gagged If prose is to be written as well as poetry novelists and readers must develop their own third ears We have to read musically testing the rhythm of a sentence listening for the almost inaudible rustle of historical association clinging to the hems of modern words attending to patterns repetitions echoes deciding whether a metaphor is successful and another is not judging how the perfect placement of the right verb or adjective seals a sentence with mathematical finality We must proceed on the assumption that almost all prose popularly acclaimed as beautiful she writes like an angel is nothing of the sort that almost every novelist will at some point be baselessly acclaimed for writing beautifully as almost all flowers are at some point acclaimed for smelling niceIs this not a bit nauseating Get off of your high horse JW Maybe there are 41 other human beings who read the right books with the perfect superconsciousness using their perfect brains bulging with culture in the way that JW advises but the rest of us are real people who sometimes read in the bath with the radio on Some of us have actually not read Flaubert s Sentimental Education Think of that Some of us you may have to lie down for this have no intention of reading Flaubert s Sentimental Education We are the plebs your culture warned you about However at the end of this book we get 20 pages about realism Here James Wood defends the idea that the business of fiction is to get real life in some way onto the printed page Suddenly James Wood is my new best friend Yes It s about time someone stuck it to those old haddocks William Gass and Roland Barthes I love this Realism seem broadly as truthfulness to the way things are cannot be mere verisimilitude cannot be mere lifelikeness or lifesameness but what I call lifeness life on the page life brought to different life by the highest artistry And it cannot be a genre instead it makes the forms of fiction seem like genres For realism of this kind is the origin It teaches everyone else it schools its truantsSo what can I say read the first 75 pages and the last 20 and don t mess with Mr In Between We cannot write about rhythm and not refer to Flaubert and so once again as if unable to stop rereading the old letters of a former lover I return to him Ugh

review How Fiction Works

Nto the machinery of storytelling to ask some fundamental uestions 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 freshJames Wood ranges widely f. I kind of hate reading books of this sort as they leave me with a heightened awareness of style character rhythm etc that makes it difficult to read average or sub par fiction Of course the benefit of reading books like this is that I do cultivate a discriminatory taste so that I read only the best trashy novelsI haven t read any of Wood s criticisms but if this brief tome is any indication of the author s style erudition and insightfulness I have been missing outAs with other books in this genre Wood covers the elements of the novel narrative detail character dialog realism style and briefly discusses its evolution tracing some of those elements as far back as the biblical DavidWhile the whole work is impressive I was taken with several particularsNARRATIVEHere Wood doesn t focus so much on differences between 1st person and 3rd person so much as on what he terms free indirect style which is the tension between the author s perceptions and language and the character s As examples of this he uotes from Henry James What Maisie Knew a successful balance and John Updike s Terrorist an unsuccessful attempt She knew governesses were poor Miss Over was unmentionably and Mrs Wix ever so publicly so Neither this however nor the old brown frock nor the diadem nor the button made a difference for Maisie in the charm put forth through everything the charm of Mrs Wix s conveying that somehow in her ugliness and her poverty she was peculiarly and soothingly safe safer than any one in the world than papa than mamma than the lady with the arched eyebrows safe even though so much less beautiful than Miss Over on whose loveliness as she supposed it the little girl was faintly conscious that one couldn t rest with uite the same tucked in and kissed for good night feeling Mrs Wix was as safe as Clara Matilda who was in heaven and yet embarrassingly also in Kensal Green where they had been together to see her little huddled grave p 14vs Ahmad is eighteen This is early April again green sneaks seed by seed into the drab city s earthy crevices He looks down from his new height and thinks that to the insects unseen in the grass he would be if they had a consciousness like his God In the year past he has grown three inches to six feet unseen materialist forces working their will upon him He will not grow any taller he thinks in this life or the next If there is a next an inner devil murmurs What evidence beyond the Prophet s blazing and divinely inspired words proves that there is a next Where would it be hidden Who would forever stoke Hell s boilers What infinite source of energy would maintain opulent Eden feeding its dark eyed houris swelling its heavy hanging fruits renewing the streams and splashing fountains in which God as described in the ninth sura of the ur an take eternal good pleasure What of the second law of thermodynamics pp 27 8In the first excerpt Wood argues that James authentically inhabits Maisie s mind and yet can pull away to show the world around her Whereas Ahmad is thinking the Updike s thoughts not his own As soon as we imagine a Christian version of this narration we can guage Updike s awkward alienation from his character p 29CHARACTERCharacter is the most difficult aspect of the novel to invoke All too often authors fall back on static imagery p 95f Good characters are invoked using the telling detail or the nontelling detail Ie we remember them because of what they do or fail to do This applies both to main characters and incidental ones Ford Madox Fordwrites wonderfully about getting a character up and running what he calls getting a character in Fordloved a sentence from a Maupassant story La Reine Hortense He was a gentleman with red whiskers who always went first through a doorway Ford comments That gentleman is so sufficiently got in that you need no of him to understand how he will act He has been got in and can get to work at once pp 96 7Word s section titled Brief History of Consciousness also stands out in my mind Here he traces how story telling evolved from King David all external action to Macbeth a tale of publicized privacy to Raskolnikov Crime and Punishment where the character is being watched by us the readers p 146 This makes possible the novel as analyst of psychologicalinternal motives like no other medium before or since pp 147 8As before with character Wood uotes extensively from Ford s The English Novel and his memoir of Joseph Conrad It was to Diderotthat the Novel owes its next great step forward At that point it became suddenly evident that the Novel as such was capable of being regarded as a means of profoundly serious and many sided discussion and therefore a medium of profoundly serious investigation into the human case p 165 And What was the matter with the Novelwas that it went straight forward whereas in your gradual making acuaintanceship with your fellows you never do go straight forward To get such a man in fiction you could not begin at his beginning and work his life chronologically to the end You must first get him in with a strong impression and then work backwards and forwards over his past pp 166 7A few other highlights from the bookSection 97 The novel explores the complexity of human life the contradictions and compromises all must make with themselves and others to live Of course the novel does not provide philosophical answers Insteadit gives the best account of the complexity of our moral fabric pp 178 9Section 103f Rhythm and Music Having learned to discern however faintly in my case the rhythms of good prose it s difficult to read just anything But as in music you develop an ear for what you like and respond to Thus I like the cadences of Ursula Le Guin or Steve Erickson or James Branch Cabell but Robert Heinlein or Thomas Pynchon grateIn these sections too Wood raises problems of translation Eg Flaubert s original L idee d avoir engendre le delectait loses its music in English I ve always wished I could read the original Russian because I can t know whether I like Chekhov and Dostoyevsky or their translatorsTo finish out this section an observation paraphrased The good novelist balances free indirect speech with style the music of a sentenceFinally toward the end of the book Wood illustrates the competent but uninspired prose of much fiction using an excerpt from Le Carre s Smiley s People p 231 It s not bad writing but it takes few risks thin hotel The serious writer should reject mere photographic fidelity because art selects and shapes p 240I read a review in The New York Review of Books Nov 20 2008 Vol LV No 18 after finishing this book that I think nicely sums up what Wood is doing This surely is the heart of Wood s argument that we go to fiction for many reasonsbut what we are really in search of is not fiction but life itself Like the figures in our dreams the characters we encounter in fiction are really us and the story we are told is the story of ourselves NYRB p 88If the length of this review is any indication you can see that I m uite taken with this book and will be buying my own copy as soon as it comes out in paperback or I can get a cheap used copy

About the Author: James Wood

James Douglas Graham Wood is an English literary critic essayist and novelist He is currently Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University a part time position and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazineWood advocates an aesthetic approach to literature rather than ideologically driven trends in academic literary criticismWood is noted for coining the genre t