What do the punk singer Henry Rollins, the Guatemalan writer Rodrigo Rey Rosa, the American authors Tobias Wolff, Tayari Jones, and George Saunders, the Canadian writer Sheila Heti, and the Russian poet Polina Barskova have in common? At some point they all studied the art of writing deeply with someone.
The nearly seventy short essays in A Manner of Being, by some of the best contemporary writers from around the world, pay homage to mentors―the writers, teachers, nannies, and sages―who enlighten, push, encourage, and sometimes hurt, fail, and limit their protégés. There are mentors encountered in the schoolhouse and on farms, in NYC and in MFA programs; mentors who show up exactly when needed, offering comfort, a steadying hand, a commiseration, a dose of tough love. This collection is rich with anecdotes from the heartfelt to the salacious, gems of writing advice, and guidance for how to live the writing life in a world that all too often doesn't care whether you write or not.
Each contribution is intimate and distinct―yet a common theme is that mentors model a manner of being.
Arthur Flowers on John O'Killens
James Franco on Harmony Korine
Mary Gaitskill on an Ann Arbor bookstore owner
Noy Holland and Sam Lipsyte on Gordon Lish
Tayari Jones on Ron Carlson
Henry Rollins on Hubert Selby Jr.
Rodrigo Rey Rosa on Paul Bowles
George Saunders on Douglas Unger and Tobias Wolff
Christine Schutt on Elizabeth Hardwick
Tobias Wolff on John L'Heureux
. . . and many more
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Annie Liontas received an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University. She is author of the novel Let Me Explain You.
Jeff Parker is assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His most recent books include Where Bears Roam the Streets and Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion.
"What the writers share of their mentors, and what their mentors shared with them, makes for a fascinating work on writing and the student-teacher relationship."―Publishers Weekly
"The book does offer arresting memories and useful advice on navigating the writing life."―Kirkus
"A collection of snapshots from the past few decades documenting how a variety of writers have found or been given guidance from other writers, both in and out of writing programs. Many different approaches are represented here, from line editors to more mystic sages, from teachers turned life coaches to teachers who did most of their work in the classroom or campus office. In gathering these tributes to mentors, this volume gives us some idea not so much of what students look for in a teacher, but of what they remember, and why it's important to them."―Peter Turchi, author of A Muse and A Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic
"Liontas (Let Me Explain You) and Parker (English, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Where Bears Roam the Streets) bring together a series of stories and vignettes by writers for writers on the power of mentorship and the myriad ways in which literary and nonliterary guides support, influence, encourage, and serve to provide much-needed reality checks. The included pieces are at times warm, insightful, and amusing, while always staying true to the spirit of the unique relationship between mentor and mentee. Divided into eight sections, the stories fall into categories dedicated to literary "lineages," schoolhouse mentors, outliers, tough love, writers without mentors, and those in need of intervention; each contribution can be read as a stand-alone account, or taken as part of the greater whole. VERDICT These insider stories, recounting, the experiences of beginning writers, poets, and MFA students alike, will resonate with those following a similar path."―Library Journal
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