How Fiction Works (Paperback)
  • How Fiction Works (Paperback)
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How Fiction Works (Paperback)

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Paperback 240 Pages / Published: 05/02/2009
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Rediscover this deep, practical anatomy of the novel from 'the strongest ... literary critic we have' (New York Review of Books) in this new revised 10th anniversary edition.

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?

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 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.

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.

'Should find a place on every novel-lover's shelf. It has the quality all useful works of criticism should have: refined taste, keen observation, and the ability to make the reader argue, passionately, with it' Financial Times

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781845950934
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 195 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
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 * Herald *

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“How Fiction Works”

What a fabulous small volume in praise of the (great) novel. In just 123 long paragraphs Woods takes us through the key elements of literature - narration, character, dialogue, language. And then he adds context,... More

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