The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House


The Writer's Notebook compiles the best craft seminars in the history of the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, along with a variety of craft essays from some of Tin House's favorite writers. The cast of deeply respected poets and prose writers explore topics that vary from writing dialogue to the dos and don'ts of writing about sex. With how-tos, close readings, and personal anecdotes, The Writer's Notebook offers aspiring scribes advice and inspiration to hone their own ...
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The Writer's Notebook compiles the best craft seminars in the history of the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, along with a variety of craft essays from some of Tin House's favorite writers. The cast of deeply respected poets and prose writers explore topics that vary from writing dialogue to the dos and don'ts of writing about sex. With how-tos, close readings, and personal anecdotes, The Writer's Notebook offers aspiring scribes advice and inspiration to hone their own craft.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Much more entertaining is The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays From Tin House, which is a pretty fair summary of where actual writing instruction is at these days. Most of the essays originated in writing workshops run by the literary magazine Tin House, and they include advice on sex writing by Steve Almond, on what you can learn from Shakespeare by Margot Livesey, and on revision by Chris Offutt, who compares the process to 'draining the kitchen sink and seeing what’s in there, which is usually a mess.'"—Charles McGrath, The New York Times

"We get all manner of books on writing around here and they tend to blend together but the offerings from Tin House always stand out. They've just published The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House, which includes terrifically useful essays from the likes of Dorothy Allison, Rick Bass, Aimee Bender, Jim Krusoe, Antonya Nelson and Jim Shepard." —The Elegant Variation

"Tin House is an outstanding literary journal that publishes some of today's finest contemporary writing...delightful...beautifully written...thoughtful...outstanding..."—Chuck Leddy, The Writer Magazine

"The essays within The Writer's Notebook each offer a fresh perspective on various aspects of the writing craft...features an eclectic list of top shelf contributions each bound together by a pragmatic approach to teaching the craft of writing... If you can't actually attend the workshops, this is probably your next best bet." —Mark Flanagan,

"Brilliant stuff, and not at all the hackneyed tired advice you find in so many writing books." —

"What’s fabulous is we know of these writers, and here we get to know them better through their lectures and essays. With them, we explore the love/hate relationship a writer has with the mind, the words, the pen, and the reader."—Helen Gallagher,

"These essays can be read for the illumination into the craft of writing, whether you are a reader or a writer." —Mary Jo Anderson, The Chronicle Herald

"As importantly, almost any subject is good reading in the hands of a talented writer. And believe me...these are fine writers." —Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News

"There is enough variety that you are sure to find several kindred souls. The Tin House editors do a great job of gathering an eccentric mix of talented writers and essay subjects."
—Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times

"The essays are a fascinating look at the writing process by an eclectic group of writers...covering enough ground to offer something of interest to anyone fascinates by the process of writing...I found the discussions both illuminating and inspiring and I recommend the book to anyone interested in writing."—

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780979419812
  • Publisher: Tin House Books
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 432,607
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Aimee Bender is the author of three books, the most recent being the short story collection Willful Creatures. Her short fiction has been published in Harper's, Granta, Tin House, GQ, the Paris Review, and others, as well as heard on PRI's This American Life. She teaches creative writing at USC and lives in Los Angeles.

Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the non-fiction book Candyfreak, the novel Which Brings Me to You, co-written with Julianna Baggott, and most recently the collection of essays Not That You Asked: Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions. He lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine.

Susan Bell is author of The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself (W.W. Norton & Co. 2007), and co-author with Mayor Jason West of Dare to Hope: Saving American Democracy, a book of essays on political activism (Miramax, 2005). A former editor at Random House and Conjunctions magazine, she has edited both fiction and nonfiction professionally for twenty years. She has taught a seminar on self-editing in the New School's graduate writing program since 2001.

Anna Keesey is a Portland writer and a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the recipient of a Michener/Copernicus award and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Her work has appeared in Grand Street, Double-Take, and Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories series.

Chris Offutt is the author of two story collections. Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods, two books of memoir, The Same River Twice and No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home, and the novel The Good Brother. His work has received awards from the Lannan Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whiting Foundation. Offutt has two sons and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

D.A. Powell is the author of Tea (Wesleyan, 1998), Lunch (Wesleyan, 2000) and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2004), the latter a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle and the PEN West Literary Awards. Powell is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, fellowships from the NEA and the James Michener Foundation, and awards from the Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Society of America. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He is currently on faculty at the University of San Francisco.

Jim Shepard is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X (Knopf, 2004) and two story collections, including most recently Like You’d Understand, Anyway (Knopf, 2007), which was nominated for the National Books Award. Project X won the 20005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, the Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, and Playboy, and he is a columnist on film for the magazine the Believer. He teaches at Williams College and in the Warren Wilson MFA program, and lives in Williamstown with his wife, Karen, two sons, tiny daughter, and some harried and unreliable dogs.

Jim Krusoe has written five books of poems, a book of stories, Blood Lake, and two novels, Iceland, published by Dalkey Archive Press, and Girl Factory, published by Tin House Books. His stories and poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Bomb, Denver Quarterly, the Iowa Review, Field, North American Review, American Poetry Review, and the Santa Monica Review, which he began in 1988. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and Manoa. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest fund. He teaches at Santa Monica College and in the graduate writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Iceland was selected by the Los Angeles Times and the Austin Chronicle as one of the ten best fiction books of 2002, and was on the Washington Post list of notable fiction for the same year. A collection of his stories, Abductions, which will be illustrated by Dani Tull, is scheduled for publication in September 2007.

Margot Livesey is the author of the novels The House on Fortune Street, Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, and Banishing Verona. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, and she is the recipient of grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is currently a writer in residence at Emerson College.

Dorothy Allison is the author of the novels Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the forthcoming She Who. Allison will be in residence at Davidson College in 2009.

Rick Bass is the author of twenty-three books of fiction and nonfiction, including, most recently, a memoir Why I Came West, and the story collection The Lives of Rocks. His first short story collection, The Watch, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award, and his 2002 collection, The Hermit’s Story, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. The Lives of Rocks was a finalist for the Story Prize and was chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News. Bass’s stories have also been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award and have been collected in The Best American Short Stories.

Antonya Nelson is the author of eight books of fiction, the most recent a story collection, Some Fun. She teaches in the University of Houston's creative writing program, and divides her time between Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Lucy Corin’s short stories have been published in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, the Iowa Review, the Mid-American Review, and Conjunctions, and anthologized in the collections The Iowa Anthology of Innovative Fiction (Iowa University Press, 1994) and New Stories for the South: The Year’s Best (Algonquin Books, 1997 and 2003). Her novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls was published by FC2 in 2004, and her collection The Entire Predicament was published by Tin House Books in 2007.

Kate Bernheimer is the author of two novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold (FC2) and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold (FC2), and a children's book, The Girl in The Castle inside The Museum (Random House). She is also editor of two essay collections, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (Anchor/Vintage) and Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales (Wayne State University Press). She is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Pete Rock was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. The author of four novels and, most recently, a collection of stories, The Unsettling, he has taught at San Francisco State, Yale, Penn, Deep Springs and Reed College. He now lives in Portland, Oregon, and is at work on numerous projects -- one of which, the novel My Abandonment, will be published by Harcourt in early 2009.

Tom Grimes is the author of the novels, A STONE OF THE HEART, SEASON’S END, REDEMPTION SONG, and CITY OF GOD. He edited the fiction anthology, THE WORKSHOP: SEVEN DECADES OF FICTION FROM THE IOWA WRITERS’ WORKSHOP. His essay, “Bring Out Your Dead” appeared in Tin House and was a Notable Essay of 2007. His interview with Roddy Doyle appeared in the Tin House Book of Interviews. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Texas State University.

Matthea Harvey’s most recent book of poetry, Modern Life, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2008 as well as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form and a forthcoming children’s book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake. A contributing editor to jubilat, BOMB and Meatpaper, she teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    I had great hopes for this book, but like many books on writing, I found a lack of tangibles. It is hard to write about writing like you would write about airplanes or World War II or any other topic you can outline and list. Writing is too personal. I was offended by the chapter on writing about sex; I agree with the author that you don't need to describe the fundamentals. However, I didn't feel the shock value of his soft porn description necessary. The books is essentially a set of essays about how different writers write. If that is what you expect and want, you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for nitty gritty advice on point of view, character development, etc., you need to look elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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