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Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing is a book about what makes fiction work. In nine entertaining and instructive essays, novelist and master teacher Debra Spark pursues key questions that face both aspiring and accomplished writers, including: How does a writer find inspiration? What makes a story's closing line resonate? How can a writer "get" style? Where should an author "stand" in relation to his or her characters?
While the book will have immediate appeal for students of writing, it will also be of interest to general readers for its in-depth reading of contemporary fiction and for its take on important issues of the day: Should writers try to be more uplifting? How is emotion best conveyed in fiction? Why are serious writers in North America wedded to the realist tradition?
When she was only twenty-three, Debra Spark's best-selling anthology 20 Under 30 introduced readers to some of today's best writers, including David Leavitt, Susan Minot, Lorrie Moore, Ann Patchett, and Mona Simpson. Almost twenty years later, Spark brings this same keen critical eye to Curious Attractions , discussing a broad range of authors from multiple genres and generations.
A collection of essays in the belles-lettres tradition, Curious Attractions offers lively and instructive discussions of craft flavored with autobiographical reflections and commentary on world events. Throughout, Spark's voice is warm, articulate, and engaging as it provides valuable insights to readers and writers alike.
"Readers may ask, how much fun can a book about writing fiction be? The answer: a whole lot with Spark as your guide. . . . Spark writes about where stories come from, why openings and closings are so difficult to pull off, what we mean by style, the difference between sentiment, and sentimentality, and how magic realism fares in North America. Her lines of inquiry are significant. Her observations about craft are fluent. And her ability to both analyze fiction and respect its mystery makes for a suitably frank and bemused perspective backed by unabashed wonder at the workings of the imagination and the undeniable power of literature. Spark's canny essays are a pleasure for readers and writers alike."
"A collection of essays in the belles-lettres tradition, Curious Attractions offers lively and instructive discussions of craft flavored with autobiographical reflections and commentary on world events."
—Colby (Colby College)
"All in all, this collection manages to be erudite and entertaining, which is not an easy combination to pull off, but Spark does it with verve and humor. Curious Attractions is a welcome addition to a writer's library, and a choice well worth considering as a text for any university fiction-writing course or seminar."
—Ralph Culver, Foreword
"Spark is so adept at avoiding the typical pitfalls of this genre, she could write a book about writing a book on fiction writing. While Curious isn't designed to supplant a classroom, it's the perfect supplement for the writer staring at the blank screen."
—Time Out Chicago
Copyright © 2005, Debra Spark. All rights reserved.