Janet Burroway followed in the footsteps of Sylvia Plath. Like Plath, she was an earlyMademoiselle guest editor in New York, an Ivy League and Cambridge student, an aspiring poet-playwright-novelist in the period before feminism existed, a woman who struggled with her generation's conflicting demands of work and love. Unlike Plath, Janet Burroway survived.
In sixteen essays of wit, rage, and reconciliation, Embalming Mom chronicles loss and renaissance in a life that reaches from Florida to Arizona across to England and home again. Burroway brilliantly weaves her way through the dangers of daily life—divorcing her first husband, raising two boys, establishing a new life, scattering her mother's ashes and sorting the meager possessions of her father. Each new danger and challenge highlight the tenacious will of the body and spirit to heal.
“Ordinary life is more dangerous than war because nobody survives,” Burroway contemplates in the essay “Danger and Domesticity,” yet each of her meditations reminds us that it's our daily rituals and trials that truly keep us alive.
In 1955, Maxine Kumin submitted a poem to the Saturday Evening Post. “Lines on a Half-Painted House” made it into the magazine—but not before Kumin was asked to produce, via her husband’s employer, verification that the poem was her original work.
Kumin, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was part of a groundbreaking generation of women writers who came of age during the midcentury feminist movement. By challenging the status quo and ultimately finding success for themselves, they paved the way for future generations of writers. In A Story Larger than My Own, Janet Burroway brings together Kumin, Julia Alvarez, Jane Smiley, Erica Jong, and fifteen other accomplished women of this generation to reflect on their writing lives.
The essays and poems featured in this collection illustrate that even writers who achieve critical and commercial success experience a familiar pattern of highs and lows over the course of their careers. Along with success comes the pressure to sustain it, as well as a constant search for subject matter, all too frequent crises of confidence, the challenges of a changing publishing scene, and the difficulty of combining writing with the ordinary stuff of life—family, marriage, jobs. The contributors, all now over the age of sixty, also confront the effects of aging, with its paradoxical duality of new limitations and newfound freedom.
Taken together, these stories offer advice from experience to writers at all stages of their careers and serve as a collective memoir of a truly remarkable generation of women.
A creative writer’s shelf should hold at least three essential books: a dictionary, a style guide, and Writing Fiction. Janet Burroway’s best-selling classic is the most widely used creative writing text in America, and for more than three decades it has helped hundreds of thousands of students learn the craft. Now in its tenth edition, Writing Fiction is more accessible than ever for writers of all levels—inside or outside the classroom.
This new edition continues to provide advice that is practical, comprehensive, and flexible. Burroway’s tone is personal and nonprescriptive, welcoming learning writers into the community of practiced storytellers. Moving from freewriting to final revision, the book addresses “showing not telling,” characterization, dialogue, atmosphere, plot, imagery, and point of view. It includes new topics and writing prompts, and each chapter now ends with a list of recommended readings that exemplify the craft elements discussed, allowing for further study. And the examples and quotations throughout the book feature a wide and diverse range of today’s best and best-known creators of both novels and short stories.
This book is a master class in creative writing that also calls on us to renew our love of storytelling and celebrate the skill of writing well. There is a very good chance that one of your favorite authors learned the craft with Writing Fiction. And who knows what future favorite will get her start reading this edition?