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Voice Lessons
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In her distinctive way, Mairs (Carnal Acts, LJ 9/1/90; Ordinary Time, LJ 4/1/93) tells her story on becoming a writer by intertwining theory, writing, life, intellect, and wit. She shares her experiences as a woman bound for 20 years by her ingrained repression and a patriarchal culture, and her liberation from these. She explores such dichotomies as writing by men and women, creative and critical writing, and writers in and out of the academy. Mairs devotes a substantial part of this book to the impact of reading on her life as a writer-of discovering Virginia Woolf in her teens and rediscovering her in her mid-thirties. Author of several autobiographical prose works, Mairs addresses the connectedness of feminine autobiographical writing to others than the self and of the importance of what she refers to as ``literature of personal disaster.'' This is a provocative, honest, and revealing portrayal of how one writer deals with rejection and who is determined to fully despite multiple sclerosis.-Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.

Critically acclaimed essayist Mairs ( Ordinary Times ) recounts the history of her development as a writer in a memoir that even those who are weary of the ``what being a writer means to me'' genre will find stimulating and insightful. Mairs's use of metaphor is dazzling, her self-scrutiny almost painfully candid. She reminds us that every writer's perspective is to a large extent shaped by circumstances, that one's ``voice'' is a product of his or her gender, social class, education, etc. Mairs's rigorous attention to the origins and growth of her voice is thus offered not so much as a ``portrait of the artist'' or a universally applicable guide to becoming a writer but as a meditation on the relationship between author and culture. Her contextual awareness leads Mairs to question many of the ``rules'' of the literary profession--the tradition, for example, of maintaining clear-cut distinctions between academic and creative writing--and to insist on breaking these rules. Mairs is an iconoclastic thinker; hers is an unusually original book and a great pleasure to read. (June)

"Mairs is an iconoclastic thinker; hers is an unusually original book and a great pleasure to read." --Publishers Weekly "This is a provocative, honest, and revealing portrayal of how one writer deals with rejection and who is determined to fully despite multiple sclerosis." --Library Journal "A small miracle of honesty mediated by dignity and humor." --Francine Prose, New York Newsday " [A] rich and wise collection about becoming a writer (and a woman)...grounded in a wry and candid account of a life that would have most others hanging on the ropes...hers is a singular voice we can all attend to." --Faye Moskowitz, Washington Post Book World "It is fascinating to watch Nancy Mairs grappling with theoretical issues in a way that makes them personal and immediate. As in her previous work, Mairs shows the courage and tenacity and honesty of a true personal essayist." --Philip Lopate, author of Two Marriages

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