Sunday, January 9, 2011

Everyone Should Read This Book According to Jackie

For more than forty years, distinguished author Roger Rosenblatt has also been a teacher of writing, guiding students with the same intelligence and generosity he brings to the page, answering the difficult questions about what makes a story good, an essay shapely, a novel successful, and the most profound and essential question of them all—why write?

Unless It Moves the Human Heart details one semester in Rosenblatt's "Writing Everything" class. In a series of funny, intimate conversations, a diverse group of students—from Inur, a young woman whose family is from Pakistan, to Sven, an ex–fighter pilot—grapples with the questions and subjects most important to narrative craft. Delving into their varied lives, Rosenblatt brings readers closer to them, emotionally investing us in their failures and triumphs.

More than a how-to for writers and aspiring writers, more than a memoir of teaching, Unless It Moves the Human Heart is a deeply felt and impassioned plea for the necessity of writing in our lives. As Rosenblatt wisely reminds us, "Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue."

Jackie's review:

"I love the way that Roger Rosenblatt, author of Making Toast as well as several other books, can squeeze so much meaning in so few words. His latest is somewhat a collection of ideas, discussions, and exercises that he has put his writing students through (he is a professor of English and Writing at Stonybrook University), though he does start off by saying 'To be clear: nobody really said what I say they said in class. But the ideas expressed here were expressed there.' And there is sooooo much good stuff in here, even for the casual writer. My copy is all marked up already! One of my favorite gems in this book is ' fiction you treat facts differently. You dream into them and make them works of art.' That line has lived vividly in my imagination since I read it, and I know that it will continue to influence me for the rest of my life. Yes, this is that kind of book. The kind that will change your life with a few carefully written words. Amazing."

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