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A swim in a pond in the rain : in which four…

A swim in a pond in the rain : in which four Russians give a master class… (utgåvan 2021)

av George Saunders, Nikolaĭ Vasilʹevich Gogolʹ, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev, graf Leo Tolstoy

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1783115,346 (4.35)5
Titel:A swim in a pond in the rain : in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life
Författare:George Saunders
Andra författare:Nikolaĭ Vasilʹevich Gogolʹ, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev, graf Leo Tolstoy
Info:New York : Random House, 2021.
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life av George Saunders

Senast inlagd avwilliecostello, privat bibliotek, leperdbunny, Bodoni, ulyssesmcqueen

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For readers interested in writing stories this is a nice addition to other authors such as John Gardner, Dorothea Brande and Francine Prose.

Saunders, himself a best selling author, decided to capture insights he has gained in his role as teacher at Syracuse University's Creative Writing Program. There, he has used Russian masters as case studies, and in this book he presents Gogol, Chekhov, Turgenev and Tolstoy as exemplars of the craft.

In his humble voice he basically encourages each writer to develop their own voice. In discussing these short stories he expounds on techniques related to pacing, action and character development; all features a writer can may pay attention to when creating a new story.

Additionally one may also gain a greater appreciation for the short story that the Spanish writer Ana Maria Matute, celebrates: “the story has an old vagabond heart that wanders into town and then disappears…the story withdraws but leaves its mark.”

I am sure George Saunders would endorse this sentiment. ( )
1 rösta berthirsch | Feb 17, 2021 |
Suppose you find yourself in the mood to read some good short stories. Let’s also say that you have a particular interest in reading the fiction of some of the great Russian masters. However, one thing that has always troubled you when you tried to satisfy such an urge in the past is that, despite enjoying the stories, you could not figure out exactly why they are considered to be so great. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a knowledgeable friend available to help you understand the subtleties of such things as character development, narrative construction, plot escalation, and the like? And wouldn’t also be great if that person was always good-natured, witty, and insightful, without a trace of the hubris that sometimes goes with the territory? If so, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders is the perfect book for you.

In addition to being a first-rate author himself, Saunders is also a professor in a top MFA program where, among other things, he teaches a course in Russian literature. That is important to understand because his goal with this volume is essentially to transcribe his lectures and classroom discussions onto the written page. The result is a spectacular success which, as a teacher myself, I can attest to being very hard to do. The basic structure of the book is fairly straightforward, being divided into chapters focusing on seven iconic short stories—three by Anton Chekhov, two by Leo Tolstoy, and one each by Ivan Turgenev and Nikolai Gogol. Along with a translated version of the story, each chapter also includes Saunders’ critical analysis of what makes it work so well, as well as an “Afterthought” in which he discusses crucial aspects of the writer’s process, including his own (Revise! Revise! Revise!).

If that sounds too much like a textbook, be assured that it really is not. At the heart of the book, of course, are the seven wonderful stories themselves. Saunders’ analyses, while sometimes more involved than seemed warranted, are always accessible, perceptive, and illuminating. He has thought deeply about this topic and he is clearly a fan of the genre, which shows through on every page. (By the way, I had read three of the stories already—or thought I had until I reread them with Saunders as a guide!) Also, while I am unlikely to ever try producing my own short fiction, I still found the author’s many digressions on the craft of creating compelling stories to be very interesting; if nothing else, knowing how hard to writers have to work to make a tale come to life will make me a better reader in the future. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain was a very satisfying experience and it is a volume that should be essential for budding writers and seasoned readers alike. ( )
1 rösta browner56 | Jan 1, 2021 |
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