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Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style de…
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Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style (edició 2019)

de Kurt Vonnegut (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
683302,182 (3.17)1
"Here is an entirely new side of Kurt Vonnegut, Vonnegut as a teacher of writing. Of course he's given us glimpses before, with aphorisms and short essays and articles and in his speeches. But never before has an entire book been devoted to Kurt Vonnegut the teacher. Here is pretty much everything Vonnegut ever said or wrote having to do with the writing art and craft, altogether a healing, a nourishing expedition. McConnell has outfitted us for the journey, and in these 37 chapters covers the waterfront of how one American writer brought himself to the pinnacle of the writing art, and we can all benefit as a result. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of American literature, whose novels continue to influence new generations about the ways in which our imaginations can help us to live. Few aspects of his contribution have not been plumbed--fourteen novels, collections of his speeches, his essays, his letters, his plays--so this fresh view of him, written by a former student, is a bonanza for writers and readers and Vonnegut fans everywhere"--… (més)
Membre:paulgolden
Títol:Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style
Autors:Kurt Vonnegut (Autor)
Informació:Seven Stories Press (2019), 432 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style de Kurt Vonnegut

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Finished: 1/10/2020 ( )
  untraveller | Feb 15, 2021 |
I got very excited by the idea of a writer's guide written by dear Mr. Vonnegut. But he died in 2007 and this is no such thing; it is written by someone who lacks the late Kurt's credibilty but who apparently felt attending his workshops entitled her to claim this book as part of his canon, putting his name as lead author. If you want an actual writing guide from the master, google, "vonnegut how to write with style" for his two page essay which was used as the underpinning structure for this 400 pages of unnecessary rambling.

Pity the reader who wastes money on this book. ( )
  fionaanne | Nov 19, 2020 |
Kurt Vonnegut was not only a prolific writer and a highly respected human being but one who made rules and mostly broke them.

Suzanne McConnell is one of Vonnegut’s former students from his period of teaching at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. They remained friends until his death.

Until this book came along, only small fragments of Vonnegut’s teaching—including his philosophies and other worlds of thought—were available, mainly as short stories which were fragmented throughout time and different publishers.

Here, McConnell does not only collate the entire experience that is his writing on writing but also brings to life his oeuvre as a teacher and a human being.

One of the main boons of this book is McConnell’s exquisite, funny, and daring way to comment on everything throughout the book. Her comments often provide valuable insights into Vonnegut’s process for thinking, mashing, drafting, and finalising his material. I believe that 60% of the book is Vonnegut and 40% McConnell.

From the book:

You probably met Vonnegut also through reading his books, assigned in high school or college or read independently, depending on your age. If you read Slaughterhouse-Five, the most well known, you also know the experience that drove him to write that book because he introduces it in the opening chapter: as a twenty-year-old American of German ancestry in World War II, he was captured by the Germans and taken to Dresden, which was then firebombed by the British and Americans. He and his fellow prisoners, taken to an underground slaughterhouse, survived. Not many other people, animals, or vegetation did.

It’s easy to see how Vonnegut’s dry and black humour has either mixed with or matched that of McConnell’s; I adore it, and cannot count the number of times that I laughed while reading this book.

The book is littered with insight into how knowledgeable, scholarly and also transformable Vonnegut was. He seems to often have provided gleaming trinkets of truth that upended a lot that was fashionable then and still is today. Imagine switching the names Keruouac and Hemingway for Franzen and…well, Kardashian in the following paragraph:

“We’ve come to the point where we’re more interested in looking at the scrolls of Kerouac than reading Kerouac. The same with Hemingway’s home in Key West.” Fetishism of famous writers, he suggested, occurs because “it’s such heavy-lifting to actually read books.”

There are quite a lot of interesting bits here, where both Vonnegut, McConnell, and other interesting people are thrown into the mix.

Some reviewers dismissed Kurt Vonnegut’s writing for being too simple. John Irving criticized Vonnegut’s critics. They think, Irving wrote, that “if the work is tortured and a ghastly effort to read, it must be serious,” whereas “if the work is lucid and sharp and the narrative flows like water, we should suspect the work of being simplistic, and as light and as lacking in seriousness as fluff. This is simplistic criticism, of course; it is easy criticism too. “Why is ‘readable’ such a bad thing to be these days?” Some people “are gratified by the struggle to make sense of what they read . . . I am more often gratified by a writer who has accepted the enormous effort necessary to make writing clear.”

Vonnegut criticized lit critics too. They wrote “rococo argle-bargle,” he once said.

That’s one of the best insights, in regards to reviewers, that I’ve ever seen.

It seems that Vonnegut spent quite some thought and action on trying to get his students—and anybody, really—to know that their writing, their action, their thoughts, were as valid as anybody else’s:

Novelists are not only unusually depressed, by and large, but have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetics consultants at Bloomingdale’s department store. our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.

There are short bursts of beauty:

Kurt advised John Irving, who was working on his first novel, “that I was interested in a certain young woman’s underwear to an excess of what my readers would be.” Irving revised it accordingly, but “Not to the degree that I probably should have . . . But he also said I wrote with so much enthusiasm. He told me, Never lose that enthusiasm. So many writers are unenthusiastic about their work.

McConnell calls Vonnegut out on his sexism; he wasn’t intentionally sexist or harmful, she writes, but learned from being called out back in the day:

Such blind spots, to phrase it most benignly, occur in every culture. You may harbor some yourself. Sexism, racism, ageism, nationalism. Homophobia. Political and regional prejudices. Your teachers, being human, will have such blind spots. They may not, as Vonnegut’s own mentor did not, recognize your value, remember you, or care about you. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. It doesn’t mean they themselves are evil. The blind spot itself, though, is. An insidious, damaging wrongdoing, undermining confidence and selfhood. one upside: consciousness soars with obvious abuse. Four pieces of advice: recognize the blind spot. Call it out. Keep your eyes on your own prize. expect change.

People and times do change. raggedly, incrementally. Vonnegut changed too. “The women’s liberation movement of today in America,” Vonnegut wrote in 1981, “in its most oceanic sense, is a wish by women to be liked for something other than their reproductive abilities. . . . And the rejection of the equal rights Amendment by male state legislators is this clear statement by men, in my opinion: ‘We’re sorry, girls, but your reproductive abilities are about all we can really like you for.’”

Late in his life Kurt sent me postcards and clippings about women’s issues.

Vonnegut’s playfulness shone through everything, even though he was able to stay on the ball with his acute sense of worth.

Throughout his work, Vonnegut conjured and indicated words. [dr. ed Brown] coined a new word for Sylvia’s disease, “Samaritrophia,” which he said meant, “hysterical indifference to the troubles of those less fortunate than oneself.”

Vonnegut comes alive through this book, and in spite of being such an intense ride, I just feel like reading more and more of his written words. We all have a lot to learn from his pathos, methods, and, mainly, the ways through which he always broke all rules.

There is no shortage of wonderful writers. What we lack is a dependable mass of readers.

This book is wonderful. I suggest that you purchase a copy at once. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
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"Here is an entirely new side of Kurt Vonnegut, Vonnegut as a teacher of writing. Of course he's given us glimpses before, with aphorisms and short essays and articles and in his speeches. But never before has an entire book been devoted to Kurt Vonnegut the teacher. Here is pretty much everything Vonnegut ever said or wrote having to do with the writing art and craft, altogether a healing, a nourishing expedition. McConnell has outfitted us for the journey, and in these 37 chapters covers the waterfront of how one American writer brought himself to the pinnacle of the writing art, and we can all benefit as a result. Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of American literature, whose novels continue to influence new generations about the ways in which our imaginations can help us to live. Few aspects of his contribution have not been plumbed--fourteen novels, collections of his speeches, his essays, his letters, his plays--so this fresh view of him, written by a former student, is a bonanza for writers and readers and Vonnegut fans everywhere"--

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