How Fiction Works
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How Fiction Works

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Description

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 and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterization, dialogue, realism, and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time takes the machinery of story-telling apart to ask a series of fundamental questions: 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 most endings of novels disappoint? Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Beatrix Potter, from the Bible to John Le Carre, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it incisively sums up two decades of bold, often controversial, and now classic critical work, and will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone interested in what happens on the page.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 16mm | 140.61g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1845950933
  • 9781845950934
  • 2,350

Review quote

"This compelling essay shows just how deeply, sensitively, imaginatively and joyfully he reads" Scotland on Sunday "There aren't many book reviewers whose leaving one magazine to go to work for another would make the headlines. But then there aren't many book reviewers like James Wood" Sunday Telegraph "Luminous... full of top-notch observations from the coal-face" -- D.J. Taylor Independent on Sunday "Enchanting... Witty, concise, and composed with a lovely lightness of touch" Economist "Exceptionally illuminating... brilliantly acute and enticingly widely read work. It should be compulsory reading for anyone in the reviewing trade and committed to memory before aspiring writers put pen to paper. For those who intend to pursue the underrated calling of reading fiction without wishing to add to its ranks, it will not only make reading more pleasurable, but articulate what you may have felt but never been able to express" -- Rosemary Goring Heraldshow more

About James Wood

JAMES WOOD is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard. In addition to How Fiction Works, he is the author of two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, a novel, The Book Against God.show more

Back cover copy

'It's impossible to read this book and not want immediately to turn back to the authors he discusses and read more of them, more closely, yourself' Scotsman 'Witty, concise and composed with a lovely lightness of touch, How Fiction Works should delight and enlighten practising novelists, would-be novelists and all passionate readers of fiction' The Economist How Fiction Works is a scintillating and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterisation, dialogue, realism and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time takes the machinery of storytelling apart to ask a series of fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we 'know' a character? What constitutes a 'telling' detail? When is a metaphor successful? Why do most endings of novels disappoint? With examples ranging from Homer to Beatrix Potter, and the Bible to John Le Carré, the result is a both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it will be enlightening to writers, readers and anyone interested in what happens on the page. 'This small, measured book about the mechanics of storytelling is something of a litcric masterclass' Time Out 'Exceptionally illuminating... It should be compulsory reading for anyone in the reviewing trade and committed to memory before aspiring writers put pen to paper. For those who intend to pursue the underrated calling of reading fiction without wishing to add to its ranks, it will not only make reading more pleasurable, but articulate what you may have felt but never been able to express' The Heraldshow more

Review Text

"There aren't many book reviewers whose leaving one magazine to go to work for another would make the headlines. But then there aren't many book reviewers like James Wood"show more