Good Prose

Good Prose

The Art of Nonfiction

Book - 2013
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS

Good Prose is an inspiring book about writing--about the creation of good prose--and the record of a warm and productive literary friendship. The story begins in 1973, in the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, in Boston, where a young freelance writer named Tracy Kidder came looking for an assignment. Richard Todd was the editor who encouraged him. From that article grew a lifelong association. Before long, Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine, the first book the two worked on together, had won the Pulitzer Prize. It was a heady moment, but for Kidder and Todd it was only the beginning of an education in the art of nonfiction.
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Good Prose explores three major nonfiction forms: narratives, essays, and memoirs. Kidder and Todd draw candidly, sometimes comically, on their own experience--their mistakes as well as accomplishments--to demonstrate the pragmatic ways in which creative problems get solved. They also turn to the works of a wide range of writers, novelists as well as nonfiction writers, for models and instruction. They talk about narrative strategies (and about how to find a story, sometimes in surprising places), about the ethical challenges of nonfiction, and about the realities of making a living as a writer. They offer some tart and emphatic opinions on the current state of language. And they take a clear stand against playing loose with the facts. Their advice is always grounded in the practical world of writing and publishing.
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Good Prose --like Strunk and White's The Elements of Style-- is a succinct, authoritative, and entertaining arbiter of standards in contemporary writing, offering guidance for the professional writer and the beginner alike. This wise and useful book is the perfect companion for anyone who loves to read good books and longs to write one.

Praise for Good Prose
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"Smart, lucid, and entertaining." -- The Boston Globe
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"You are in such good company--congenial, ironic, a bit old-school--that you're happy to follow [Kidder and Todd] where they lead you." -- The Wall Street Journal
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"[A] well-structured, to-the-point, genuinely useful, and fun-to-read guide to writing narrative nonfiction, essays, and memoir . . . Crisp, informative, and mind-expanding." -- Booklist nbsp;
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"A gem . . . The finer points of creative nonfiction are molded into an inspiring read that will affect the would-be writer as much as Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird or Stephen King's On Writing. . . . This is a must read for nonfiction writers." -- Library Journal
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"As approachable and applicable as any writing manual available." --Associated Press
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400069750
Branch Call Number: 808.02 KIDDER
Characteristics: xix, 195 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Todd, Richard 1949-

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ser_library Jun 29, 2013

interesting for readers too

Cdnbookworm Feb 14, 2013

This book is not only a look at writing nonfiction, but also editing it, and the relationship between the writer and the editor. Todd is Kidder's longtime editor (40 years working together) and here they look at the same writing from both sides of it. The talk about their relationship in particular, but also about the writer-editor relationship in general.
There are chapters on different types of nonfiction writing: narrative, memoir, and essay, as well as a chapter on the issue of accuracy. With a few big publicity books getting exposed as more fictional then they made themselves out to be, this chapter was a particularly interesting one as they looked at the nuances of nonfiction, particularly memoir.
There is also a chapter on style, and the different types. They talked about the need to find your own style and to work to refine it, to individualize it. The next chapter is a more general one on the art of nonfiction, the financial side of it, and how the writer balances the two.
They also talk about being edited and about editing from both sides. Todd has written a book as well, and had Kidder look at it and give some comments, so he talked about how it felt to have things turned around from their usual relationship. This chapter also includes their personal history together.
At the end, the include a section on usage and grammar which I found very interesting. Lots of mentions both here and earlier of Fowler's Modern English Usage, a book I wasn't familiar with. I used the Canadian Guide to Modern English by Corbin, Perrin, and Buxton myself (my mother had used it in her university days as well, and I bought my own copy used when I went to university). Their point about using something to guide one to proper usage is a good one. They also give a good bibliography of writing books at the end.
A very interesting book, with insights into both writing and the author's own lives.

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