Gut Feelings: A Writer's Truths and Minute Inventions

Gut Feelings: A Writer's Truths and Minute Inventions

by Merrill Joan Gerber
     
 

In these highly personal essays and powerful tales that verge on memoir, Merrill Joan Gerber opens to us her life and work as a writer. She is candid and unflinching in revealing the truths and inventions of a writer’s vision and the use of life as the raw material of art. Her personal essays range widely, from the mysteries of love and marriage to painful

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Overview

In these highly personal essays and powerful tales that verge on memoir, Merrill Joan Gerber opens to us her life and work as a writer. She is candid and unflinching in revealing the truths and inventions of a writer’s vision and the use of life as the raw material of art. Her personal essays range widely, from the mysteries of love and marriage to painful encounters with suicides and family deaths.

Gerber writes of her apprenticeships with celebrated writing teachers Andrew Lytle and Wallace Stegner and recounts her ghostly (and ghastly) experiences during a month at Yaddo, the famous retreat for artists. Gerber includes three pieces in the book—originally published as stories—but which blur the line between fiction and memoir, demonstrating Gerber’s contention that the deepest secrets in life beget the most passionate fictions.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"These pieces move back and forth across the boundary between memoir and fiction. Vivid and gripping, they offer memorable characters and events. One narrative moves deeply into a marital relationship—suggesting a kind of paradigm for the systole and diastole of marriage that I found profoundly moving. And troubling. And satisfying."—Janet Burstein, Drew University

“One reads Gerber headlong, driven to turn her pages as rapidly as possible, leaping toward resolution.”—Cynthia Ozick

"Handled with subtle humor and disarming honesty, Gerber’s narrative ultimately uncovers a core truth about travel: to surrender to a place, not the version from one’s fantasies but as it really exists, is the only way to experience it."—Los Angeles Times

Library Journal
Gerber (creative writing, California Inst. of Technology; Botticelli Blue Skies) notes in the preface to this collection of essays and short stories that she needs to write about "the way things really are" while producing fiction. Admitting that one cannot be sure whether truth lies in fact or fiction, she cleverly blends memoir and invention to illustrate how an author's life influences her literary output. Subjects range from writing teachers and other literary experiences to events in Gerber's family life, which began in Brooklyn. Noteworthy entries include "A Month in the Country at Yaddo," a humorous look at the eccentricities of life at an artists' colony, and "The Lost Airman," the poignant story of the author's uncle, a World War II MIA, whose remains were found some 50 years after his death. The collection will prove particularly insightful to writers in training as illustrations of how real-life events provide material for creative efforts. Also recommended for those who enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin's Wait Till Next Year. For public libraries.-Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Refined, concise, often emotionally wringing memoir vignettes. These pieces get at the source of fiction-writer Gerber's work (Chattering Man, 1991, etc.), the kernels and essences and truths that have shaped the imaginings that made her fictions "forms of emotion recollected in an even higher state of emotion." She knows how to turn a story on a dime, as when Wallace Stegner tells her, "You hold out for what you're worth," as well as to create a more pervasive atmosphere, as in the stifling pecking order at Yaddo, how she experienced the diminishment of every small disappointment and insult. She can twist the knife of a family who lost three sons during WWII, and she can seesaw between the black humor of "My Mother's Suffering: you could say it was the theme song of my life" to the lacerating words they share when they decide to withdraw her life support: " 'But are you sure you're ready to die? Are you ready to say goodbye to us?' 'Yes!' It took all her energy to say the word." She can, above all, be unsparing, visiting an aged aunt and other old crones in a retirement home, where she "smelled their smell as we all crowded into the small elevator to go down for the watered soup and canned peas for lunch." Readers can also witness the transmutation of experience into fiction (Gerber includes three stories), feel the blur, as when she relates the suicide of her sister's husband in a piece of pure memoir and then read it again in a story she wrote of the incident, full of friction, dislocation, and the author finding her own measure of veracity. "I wait to receive further news from existence and to give it true justice in the retelling." She will, too, cutting the facets just right.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299183509
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
03/28/2003
Pages:
204
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Merrill Joan Gerber teaches creative writing at the California Institute of Technology. Her most recent book is Botticelli Blue Skies: An American in Florence, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Her many novels, short story collections, and non-fiction works include King of the World, The Kingdom of Brooklyn, Anna in Chains, Anna in the Afterlife, and Old Mother, Little Cat.

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