• REVIEW: “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”

    January 12, 2012

    Anyone who enjoys writing should read Bird by Bird. It’s one of the most intriguing books on the craft I’ve read. It’s a quirky mix of practical advice and motivational speech that almost always works, and while Lamott’s humor becomes predictable in places–you get pretty good at guessing when she’s going to throw in a zinger–the fact is, her one liners and random asides are really funny.

    While describing a vineyard in Autumn, Lamott says,

    “The grapes are so incredibly beautiful that you can’t help but be thrilled. If you aren’t–if you only see someone’s profit or that in another month there will be rotten fruit all over the ground–somone has gotten inside your brain and really fucked you up. And you need to get well so you can see again, see that the grapes almost seem to glow, with a light dusting of some sort of powdery residue, like an incredibly light snowfall, almost as if they’re covered with their own confectioner’s sugar.”

    Fun, funny, poignant, practical, motivational.

    I appreciated her attitude toward the slow, hard work of writing:

    You simply keep putting down one damn word after the other, as you hear them, as they come to you. You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.

    Definitely worth the time and money to get and read this book.

    Posted in: Book Reviews

Recent Comments

  • Sarah Thompson said...


    I read this book in a creative writing course in college and loved it. Traveling Mercies is also a great book!

    01/16/12 9:18 AM | Comment Link

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