In one word: Eye-opening
Cannonball Read Bingo: Bird
I’M DOING IT. FINISHING MY CANNONBALL BINGO CARD, WITH MERE MINUTES TO SPARE, AND NOT A MOMENT TO WASTE.
This book gets the bird bingo card and not just because it’s my last one (YAY) but because it is an albatross for me to read. Though I know that reading makes one a better writer, I have largely skirted reading books specifically for and about writing because then I have to actually admit that I want to work on my writing and write a book and that is SCARY. So, I’ve kept up my reading of course, but ignored the volumes of books that might actually help me, you know, improve.
But as I was watching yet another Skillshare course on writing, this one with the esteemed Roxanne Gay, and she mentioned this book as one that every writer should read I gave up and decided to a) call myself a writer and b) pick up this book.
It’s a dense book, better suited to glance at every so often than try to power read to get a book review in by a deadline (oops) but that’s also part of the fun of this review, amiright? I am not reading the book the way it’s best intended, but so what? Prose spends as much time explaining the rules of writing as she does showing the many ways they can skillfully be broken. She breaks down the art of writing bit by bit, with chapters dedicated to words, sentences, paragraphs, and so on. She gives example after example from literature by many of the esteemed greats, detailing their skill and decision-making.
This isn’t a friendly book to read. I found her references to be dizzying and at times intimidating and even tedious, but I’m grateful for her work. She’s identified so many great passages that you can use for inspiration and now you don’t have to! It’s sort of like she’s done all the required reading and boiled it down into a much more manageable package.
For an English major who was taught to read for meaning and theme, her way of reading like a writer is to eschew all that and instead focus on the choices that the writer made, the rules they adhered to and those they didn’t, that led them to the final words on the page. This book has given me a license to read differently and I’m intrigued to see how it will impact my writing.