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First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors
     

First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors

by Paul Mandelbaum
 

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Most kid write stories. A few of them grow up to be successful authors. Before Stephen King created Carrie, he created Jhonathan, at age nine. And before there was Rabbit Angstrom, there was Manuel Citarro, detective in John Updike's hard-boiled mystery, written at fourteen. Before Jurassic Park, there was young Michael Crichton's story about the

Overview

Most kid write stories. A few of them grow up to be successful authors. Before Stephen King created Carrie, he created Jhonathan, at age nine. And before there was Rabbit Angstrom, there was Manuel Citarro, detective in John Updike's hard-boiled mystery, written at fourteen. Before Jurassic Park, there was young Michael Crichton's story about the mysteriously wounded man lying unattended in the street.

Editor Paul Mandelbaum persuaded our most popular American authors to share their childhood writings and their treasured photographs. What he's gathered is a fascinating, delightful collection of writing and early snapshots that reveal young minds at work, wrestling with early versions of ideas that were to take hold of their writings in later years. Of course, the young Madeline L'Engle would wonder about space and the meaning of eternity. Of course, Margaret Atwood would question conventional female behavior, arguing for the right to smoke cigars.

First Words is an inspiration to budding writers and enthusiastic teachers, and a revelation for readers everywhere.

This revised and condensed edition includes the following writers:

Margaret Atwood

Roy Blount, Jr.

Paul Bowles

Pat Conroy

Michael Crichton

Rita Dove

Clyde Edgerton

Gail Godwin

Allan Gurganus

Charles Johnson

Stephen King

Maxine Hong Kingston

Ursula LeGuin

Madeleine L'Engle

Jill McCorkle

Norman Mailer

Joyce Carol Oates

William Styron

Amy Tan

John Updike

Gore Vidal

Tobias Wolff

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This anthology of juvenilia from 42 of America's most promising writers is valuable chiefly for the light it sheds on the wellsprings of inspiration from which many adult literary works have emerged. Mandelbaum provides a provocative introductory essay on the value of juvenilia, with notes throughout on the connections between an author's childhood writing and his or her later works. Although the reader may not always make the same connections, and although some of the excerpts, such as Vance Bourjaily's Not To Confound My Elders and John Updike's Untitled Mystery seem overly long, the commentary is knowledgeable and the selections highly original. Also, the book features photos of these current American writers, which include best-selling authors (Louis Auchincloss, Stephen King, Michael Crichton), black authors (Charles Johnson, Gloria Naylor), as well as such prominent figures as Isaac Asimov, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Styron. For general readers.-- Marie L. Lally, Alabama Sch . of Mathematics & Science, Mobile
Donna Seaman
Forty-two writers were brave and generous enough to send Mandelbaum their childhood manuscripts. Photographs of the authors thenand now as well as facsimile reproductions of their submissions enliven this unique collection, as do Mandelbaum's pithy and engaging profiles of each author. Many writers share memories about their first forays into literature. Jill McCorkle fondly recalls her cozy little playhouse where she wrote stories that "had" to "get a laugh or a tear," while others recall how reading and writing lifted them out of the confines of childhood or profound shyness. Every submission is of interest, but some are simply hilarious, such as Margaret Atwood's satirical essay on why women should smoke cigars, and Paul Bowles' droll little dramas about love triangles, written at age 9. Precocity and sophistication beyond experience prevail. John Updike's startlingly accomplished "Untitled Mystery" was composed at age 14, while the obsessions of Michael Crichton and Stephen King were already apparent in their earliest compositions. Other contributors include Madison Smartt Bell, Gail Godwin, W. P. Kinsella, Bobbie Ann Mason, Norman Mailer, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Gore Vidal.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565127364
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
06/17/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Mandelbaum grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. A freelance journalist and writer, he has taught magazine journalism at the University of Iowa and Drake University, was an editor at Baltimore magazine and Managing Editor for Story magazine. He has published fiction in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, DoubleTake, Black Warrior Review, and Poets and Writers. He lives in Culver City, California.

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