Author Topic: A masterful guide to the craft of modern nonfiction writing  (Read 10409 times)

Joe Carillo

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Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, share their inspiring on-the-job education and experience in writing in Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction (Random House, 195 pages). Both a how-to-manual and a chronicle of their productive literary friendship while working in The Atlantic Monthly, the book argues that the techniques of fiction never belonged exclusively to fiction and that “no techniques of storytelling are prohibited to the nonfiction writer, only the attempt to pass off invention as facts.”

Their association began in 1973 when Kidder, then a young freelance writer, applied for a job at The Atlantic Monthly and was hired by Todd, then its editor, despite Todd's initial misgivings—fortunately never articulated—about the former’s writing ability. With Todd’s encouragement, however, Kidder’s writing talent bloomed. The two ended up co-writing the nonfiction book The Soul of a New Machine, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Good Prose focuses on the three major nonfiction forms—narratives, essays, and memoirs—and presents the works of a wide range of accomplished novelists and nonfiction writers as models. And drawing from their own experience as journalists, Kidder and Todd share techniques for developing narrative strategies for nonfiction, voice their thoughts about the ethical challenges of nonfiction and the realities of making a living as a writer, and their sharp misgivings about the current state of language in the writing craft.

Says Stephen Greenblatt, author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, about the book: “Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction takes us into the back room behind the shop, where strong, effective, even beautiful sentences are crafted. Tracy Kidder and his longtime editor, Richard Todd, offer lots of useful advice, and, still more, they offer insight into the painstaking collaboration, thoughtfulness, and hard work that create the masterful illusion of effortless clarity.”

Read Scott Stossel’s “The Special Relationship,” a review of Kidder and Todd’s Good Prose, in The Wall Street Journal now!

Read an excerpt from Kidder and Todd’s Good Prose at now!
Tracy Kidder, who graduated from Harvard University and studied at the University of Iowa, has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and many other literary prizes for his nonfiction, among them The Soul of a New Machine. He has also written Strength in What Remains, My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, and House.
Richard Todd, who was educated at Amherst University and Stanford University, has spent many years as a magazine and book editor and has written articles on a wide range of cultural themes for Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and the Columbia Journalism Review. The author of the book The Thing Itself, he teaches in the MFA program at Goucher College.

In “The 10 best words the Internet has given English,” an article that came out in the April 17, 2013 issue of The Guardian UK, Tom Chatfield makes his picks of the most interesting neologisms drawn from the digital world. Among them: “avatars,” “hashtags,” “LOLs,” “memes,” “trolling,” “spam,” and “geek.” A self-confessed etymology addict, Chatfield is the author of Netymology: A Linguistic Celebration of the Digital World.

Read Tom Chatfield’s “The 10 best words the Internet has given English” in The Guardian UK now!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 03:59:34 PM by Joe Carillo »