... it’s a delight to have the author share her insights with us directly. For the starry-eyed wannabes, this is a book to study, starting at the beginning ...As with everything McDermott offers here, she tells us what she means while simultaneously, through extensive excerpts and entire stories, showing us ... There is so much more here for authors to consider, study, practice, and return to: the ideas of clarity, of refining details again and again to ensure the reader can see the image the writer sees; of consequence, of ensuring the details included, down to word choice, are consequential; and of authenticity, of writers writing what matters to them, as truthfully as possible. These are the verities that govern Alice McDermott’s fiction—always indelibly her own—and that time and again capture readers’ minds and hearts. Would-be and seasoned authors alike, take note.
Spiked with exacting observations and shrewdly amusing anecdotes about the mysterious and arduous art of fiction ... She offers a consummate, fresh, and delving look at why we crave fiction ... At once assertive and subtle, rigorous and funny ... Exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate, prickly and witty, utterly committed and quite frank about how every novel-in-progress is a “shipwreck,” McDermott recalculates and reinvigorates our appreciation for the high demands and deep resonance of fiction at its most profound.
With style and wit, novelist McDermott offers a master class on writing fiction ... Her love of fiction and its craft is apparent, and her advice is at once encouraging and direct ... Within these pages, there is room at the table for all.