ISBN is

978-0-385-65997-0 / 9780385659970

The Joy of Writing: A Guide for Writers, Disguised as a Literary Memoir

by

Publisher:DOUBLEDAY CANADA

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

Pierre Berton's The Joy of Writing is a joy to read. Breezy, humourous, and surprisingly blunt in its appraisal of the author's own shortcomings--right down to a savage critique of an early draft of The Mysterious North by Berton's editor--the book feels like a return to form, especially on the heels of the curveball that was Cats I Have Known and Loved. Yet as its subtitle suggests, the book is intended as much for students of Berton's work as those yearning for a professional writing career. Berton scavenges his bibliography for examples of dos and don'ts, and fans of titles like Klondike, Vimy, and The Last Spike are rewarded with juicy insights into his inimitable research process, his labyrinthine filing system, and how exactly he makes long-dead politicians seem so darn interesting. Berton even includes sample pages of early drafts and other tidbits, some in his own hand. But whether his 30 rules for triumphant nonfiction writing--which form the book's narrative arc--will transform wannabes into winners is debatable. Really, you've either got it or you don't, as any beleaguered editor will attest. Still, Berton's tips--"know and understand your audience," "don't give up your day job," "read some good stuff before you begin," "don't use a ten-dollar word when a 50 cent one will do"--are sound. And with some exceptions (how to handle an autograph session for instance) they're universal enough to be relevant to everyone from students to secretaries. In fact, The Joy of Writing celebrates one of its own tenets--"master the art of recycling"--a necessary skill for an author who is as wildly prolific and versatile as Berton. --Kim Hughes

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