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Spark: How Creativity Works
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Spark: How Creativity Works

4.2 5
by Julie Burstein, Kurt Andersen (Foreword by)
 

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How did Richard Ford's cat influence his work as a novelist? HOW is Chuck Close's portraiture driven by his inability to remember faces? What pivotal moment helped Rosanne Cash understand the healing power of the stage?

Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits—movies, novels, paintings, songs—but rarely

Overview

How did Richard Ford's cat influence his work as a novelist? HOW is Chuck Close's portraiture driven by his inability to remember faces? What pivotal moment helped Rosanne Cash understand the healing power of the stage?

Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits—movies, novels, paintings, songs—but rarely are we privy to what happens in the creative process. In Spark, Julie Burstein traces the roots of some of the twenty-first century's most influential and creative thinkers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Yo-Yo Ma, David Milch, Isabel Allende, and Joshua Redman. Burstein pulls back the curtain to reveal the sources of these artists' inspiration and the processes that bring their work into being.

"These artists may not change lead into gold," Burstein writes, "but they lift materials from their familiar contexts, combining, reshaping, transforming them into works of art that change the way we see the world." Spark is an invaluable resource for the aspiring writer and artist, but the need for creativity extends well beyond the world of paintbrushes and typewriters. Creativity is integral to business, parenting, education, science, and, perhaps most poignantly, our personal relationships. Rarely do books on creativity illuminate and inspire; this marvelous volume will help you find a spark of your own.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

What brings on an idea? How does an artist make art, a designer a sketch, a writer a sentence? You won't find out in these brief profiles from Studio 360, though the book is not entirely without merit.

Host Burstein's book bears an unfortunate subtitle that promises what it does not deliver, for which see, most recently, Steven Johnson's excellentWhere Good Ideas Come From (2010). Instead, the book gathers what might be thought of as show notes, bits and pieces of what can sometimes seem a free-form exercise—for, as Burstein allows, the show ranges from talking with "Nora Ephron about cooking, and with Susan Sontag about war; with Rosanne Cash about creative children of famous parents and with Simon Schama about the way maps help us understand the world." The roster of talent is huge, and some of the pieces are appropriately memorable, as when the artist Chuck Close, now confined to a wheelchair, recounts his adventures experimenting with the perspectival grid in order to upend the brain's expectations, and when sound designer Ben Burtt discusses doing much the same with "tones and beeps and whistles and static," the stuff that populates the soundscapes ofStar WarsandWALL-E. Alexander Payne, the director of such offbeat fare asAbout Schmidt andElection, discusses the freedom brought about by shooting a Hollywood movie on familiar turf—in his case, Omaha. Photographer David Plowden recalls an early encounter with the Great Plains, where, he discovered, "[t]here was nothing to hold on to." Unfortunately, too many of the pieces are merely anecdotal snippets a couple of pages long, without development, connection. or follow-up. We learn nothing from actor Kevin Bacon's revelation that as a child he was encouraged to make model houses out of Elmer's glue and matchsticks, or from the aforementioned Ms. Cash's recollections of her father's (Johnny, that is) encouragement, for the elaboration of which see the liner notes to her recent albumThe List or her outstanding memoir Composed (2010).

Of some interest to budding artists, filmmakers and the like, but not particularly useful at that.

Detroit Free Press
“How better to learn about creativity than to talk with some of the world’s most creative people.”
Vanity Fair
“Burstein offers enlightening answers from the culture’s heavy hitters, as well as the process by which they stoked these embers into a roaring fire, and how you, yes, you, might too.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Spark is a beautiful book, enjoyable and filled with life...You will find yourself contemplating the origin of the little lights, the sparks, which show themselves only when someone special looks within.”
Seth Godin
“This is a book about joy, drive and art, work that we’re all capable of if we’ll only commit.”
Maria Popova
“Spark is an encyclopedia of inspiration plucked from today’s most revered creators, leaving you not with a one-size-fits-all blueprint to creativity but with a petri dish of eclectic insights for you to distill, cross-pollinate and fertilize into a richer understanding of your own creative life.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061732317
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/15/2011
Pages:
249
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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What People are Saying About This

Maria Popova
“Spark is an encyclopedia of inspiration plucked from today’s most revered creators, leaving you not with a one-size-fits-all blueprint to creativity but with a petri dish of eclectic insights for you to distill, cross-pollinate and fertilize into a richer understanding of your own creative life.”
Seth Godin
“This is a book about joy, drive and art, work that we’re all capable of if we’ll only commit.”

Meet the Author

Julie Burstein is fascinated by the roots of creativity, and she has pursued that passion through hundreds of public radio interviews and programs with musicians, artists, filmmakers, and writers. In 2000 Julie created Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen for Public Radio International; she led the show's Peabody Award–winning creative team at WNYC for nine years. Spark is her first book.

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