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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 scintillating study of the magic of fiction--an analysis of its main elements and a celebration of its lasting power. Here one of the most prominent and stylish critics of our time looks into the machinery of storytelling to ask some fundamental questions: 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 some literary conventions become dated while others stay fresh?

James Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Make Way for Ducklings, 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, How Fiction Works will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone else interested in what happens on the page.

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About the Author

JAMES WOOD is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard. He is the author of two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, and a novel, The Book Against God.

Reviews

"How Fiction Works should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction. . . . Enchanting." --The Economist"Wood's enthusiasm is glorious . . . a delight. . . . The pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read." --Time"An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination." --The Miami Herald"Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure." --Los Angeles Times"A fiercely committed critic and consummate stylist." --John Banville, The New York Review of Books"A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading." --The Sunday Times (UK) How Fiction Works should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction. . . . Enchanting. The Economist Wood's enthusiasm is glorious . . . a delight. . . . The pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read. Time An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination. The Miami Herald Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure. Los Angeles Times A fiercely committed critic and consummate stylist. John Banville, The New York Review of Books A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading. The Sunday Times (UK)" "How Fiction Works" should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction. . . . Enchanting. "The Economist" Wood's enthusiasm is glorious . . . a delight. . . . The pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read. "Time" An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination. "The Miami Herald" Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure. "Los Angeles Times" A fiercely committed critic and consummate stylist. "John Banville, The New York Review of Books" A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading. "The Sunday Times (UK)"" ""How Fiction Works" should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction. . . . Enchanting."-"-The Economist ""Wood's enthusiasm is glorious . . . a delight. . . . The pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read."--"Time ""An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination."--"The Miami Herald ""Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure."--"Los Angeles Times ""A fiercely committed critic and consummate stylist."--John Banville, "The New York Review of Books""A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading."--"The Sunday Times "(UK) "Enchanting . . . should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction."--"The Economist ""A delight . . . the pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read."--"Time ""An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination."--"The Miami Herald ""Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure."--"Los Angeles Times ""A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading."--"The Sunday Times "(UK)

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