NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
Good Prose is an inspiring book about writing—about the creation of good prose—and the record of a warm and productive literary friendship. The story begins in 1973, in the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, in Boston, where a young freelance writer named Tracy Kidder came looking for an assignment. Richard Todd was the editor who encouraged him. From that article grew a lifelong association. Before long, Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine, the first book the two worked on together, had won the Pulitzer Prize. It was a heady moment, but for Kidder and Todd it was only the beginning of an education in the art of nonfiction.
Good Prose explores three major nonfiction forms: narratives, essays, and memoirs. Kidder and Todd draw candidly, sometimes comically, on their own experience—their mistakes as well as accomplishments—to demonstrate the pragmatic ways in which creative problems get solved. They also turn to the works of a wide range of writers, novelists as well as nonfiction writers, for models and instruction. They talk about narrative strategies (and about how to find a story, sometimes in surprising places), about the ethical challenges of nonfiction, and about the realities of making a living as a writer. They offer some tart and emphatic opinions on the current state of language. And they take a clear stand against playing loose with the facts. Their advice is always grounded in the practical world of writing and publishing.
Good Prose—like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style—is a succinct, authoritative, and entertaining arbiter of standards in contemporary writing, offering guidance for the professional writer and the beginner alike. This wise and useful book is the perfect companion for anyone who loves to read good books and longs to write one.
Praise for Good Prose
“Smart, lucid, and entertaining.”—The Boston Globe
“You are in such good company—congenial, ironic, a bit old-school—that you’re happy to follow [Kidder and Todd] where they lead you.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[A] well-structured, to-the-point, genuinely useful, and fun-to-read guide to writing narrative nonfiction, essays, and memoir . . . Crisp, informative, and mind-expanding.”—Booklist
“A gem . . . The finer points of creative nonfiction are molded into an inspiring read that will affect the would-be writer as much as Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Stephen King’s On Writing. . . . This is a must read for nonfiction writers.”—Library Journal
“As approachable and applicable as any writing manual available.”—Associated Press
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.38(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.58(d)|
About the Author
Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and many other literary prizes. The author of Strength in What Remains, My Detachment, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Tracy Kidder lives in Massachusetts.
Richard Todd was educated at Amherst and Stanford. He has spent many years as a magazine and book editor, and has written articles on a wide range of cultural themes for Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others. He is the author of a previous book, The Thing Itself, and he teaches in the MFA program at Goucher College.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction” by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction” by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd provide a rare treat for nonfiction writers. Here is the chronicle of two men who have spent the last forty years of their lives trying to get the words right. As they say, these are stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing. It is not enough to write the facts, but to write them in an interesting, fair, and honest way in which someone might want to read them. From their own experiences, Todd and Kidder address three major forms: narratives, essays, and memoirs, all applicable to our Killer Nashville family. Their discussion for narratives includes notes on story, points of view, characters, and structure – things most authors reserve only for the fiction craft. They explore ways to present engaging facts without exaggeration, to write with a style that grips readers, to know when to break the rules. They discuss making a living as a nonfiction writer from their own experiences and those of their colleagues. They tour the all-important relationship between the writer and the mentoring editor. They write of successes and failures through their own experiences, sharing their veteran advice with a new generation of writers seeking guidance. The resumes of both men are impeccable. Richard Todd has been an editor, author, graduate writing professor, and mentor to young writers most of his life. Tracy Kidder is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and more. Both have walked the walk and are more than qualified to talk the talk. If there is a biography in you, an article, or a true crime story you wish to tell, I encourage you to explore this book before you write the first word. It will open your eyes to the possibilities of your own exploration and temper you as you tell your own honest and captivating story. -Clay Stafford, author and founder of Killer Nashville