How to write an autobiographical novel Essays

Alexander Chee

Book - 2018

"From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring how we form our identities in life, in politics, and in art"--

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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018.
Language
English
Item Description
"A Mariner Original."
Physical Description
280 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9781328764522
1328764524
Main Author
Alexander Chee (author)
  • The curse
  • The querent
  • The writing life
  • 1989
  • Girl
  • After Peter
  • My parade
  • Mr. and Mrs. B
  • 100 things about writing a novel
  • The rosary
  • Inheritance
  • Impostor
  • The autobiography of my novel
  • The guardians
  • How to write an autobiographical novel
  • On becoming an American writer.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* When Chee (The Queen of the Night, 2016) was once asked why his first novel, Edinburgh (2001), wasn't a memoir, he was confused by the question; had he even consciously made the choice? This collection of Chee's essays explores this and many other questions while cataloging the lessons and experiences that shaped him as a person and a writer. From Annie Dillard, his professor at Wesleyan, who leaps from the page in his descriptions, Chee learned that writing is work anyone can learn to do. At the Iowa Writer's Workshop, Deborah Eisenberg taught him "how what we invent, we control, and how what we don't, we don't—and that it shows." Though Chee, who now teaches at Dartmouth, in a very welcome way makes students of readers, his audience is in no way limited to writers. His quotable, pristine essays consider Chee's family's struggles, his AIDS activism and related losses, his tarot obsession, the labor of writing, the legacies of trauma, and the essentiality of making and having art. Hand to readers searching for something to follow 2017's incredible parade of writers' memoirs, including Roxane Gay's Hunger and Amy Tan's Where the Past Begins. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A former literary agent once told Chee (English & creative writing, Dartmouth Coll.; The Queen of the Night) that reviewers would have a hard time writing about his work. They weren't lying. It's not easy to sum up this collection of essays: the subjects range from boyhood summers, encounters with tarot, gardening, writing, seemingly innocuous themes that introduce memories of loss, struggle, activism, abuse, the list goes on. Chee considers the design of a rose garden with the same regard as his first cup of coffee in the aftermath of tragedy (because a rose is never just a rose and that cup of coffee is the only thing certain). Chee's writing has a storylike quality that reads like short fiction. The content is heavy but never hopeless—the work here isn't happy, yet it never leaves readers feeling broken. Each essay is compulsively engaging, despite the dark themes (or, perhaps, because of them). VERDICT This is a beautiful book—hard to sum up, sometimes hard to digest, but a delight to read. A must for anyone interested in the craft of writing, politics, LGBTQA+ rights, AIDS activism, family, tarot, even roses.—Gricel Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib., Miami Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

"To write is to sell a ticket to escape, not from the truth, but into it," short story writer and novelist Chee (The Queen of the Night) alerts readers here. In the 16 essays assembled, he reflects on a breadth of experiences that, collectively viewed, offer a portrait of the developing writer. In Chee's hands, varied subjects, however disparate they may seem, coalesce—a summer in Mexico as an exchange student, a stint as a Tarot-deck reader, a writing course with Annie Dillard, an AIDS march, performing in drag, meeting William F. Buckley on a catering job, tending a garden. Chee's aphoristic pieces "100 Things About Writing a Novel" and "How to Write an Autobiographical Novel" implicitly counter the notion of a direct memoir. "The memoir a kind of mask too, but one that insists you are only one person," Chee asserts. Chee's collection is, at its core, about writing itself: about how writing happens and writers are formed. A duller, less evocative title along the lines of How I Became a Writer might have been more accurate, but that would have failed to convey Chee's marvelously oblique style as an essayist—his capacity to inform and educate readers while they're too enraptured to notice. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Apr.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring how we form our identities in life, in politics, and in art" --

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In a series of essays that illustrate how we form our identities in life and in art, a best-selling author and activist, examining some of the his most formative experiences and those of our nation’s history, shows how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. Original. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Collects essays exploring how to form identities in life, in politics, and in art.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Publisher's Weekly, NPR, and Time, among many others, this essay collection from the author of The Queen of the Night explores how we form identities in life and in art.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Named a Best Book of 2018 by New York Magazine, the Washington Post, Publisher's Weekly, NPR, and Time, among many others, this essay collection from the author of The Queen of the Night explores how we form identities in life and in art. As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as “masterful” by Roxane Gay, “incendiary” by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With his first collection of nonfiction, he’s sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing ​— ​Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley ​— ​the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump. By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack. Named a Best Book by: Time, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch, Library Journal, Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor, Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction * Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award * Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography

Review by Publisher Summary 6

Named a Best Book by: TIME, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Wired, Esquire, Buzzfeed, New York Public Library, Boston Globe, The Paris Review, Mother Jones,The A.V. Club, Out Magazine, Book Riot, Electric Literature, PopSugar, The Rumpus, My Republica, Paste, Bitch, Library Journal, Flavorwire, Bustle, Christian Science Monitor, Shelf Awareness, Tor.com, Entertainment Cheat Sheet, Roads and Kingdoms, Chicago Public Library, Hyphen Magazine, Entropy Magazine,The Chicago Review of Books, The Coil, iBooks, and Washington Independent Review of Books Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction * Recipient of the Lambda Literary Trustees' Award Finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay * Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir/Biography From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist'and how we form our identities in life and in art. As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as 'masterful' by Roxane Gay, 'incendiary' by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he's sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.  How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author's manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation's history, including his father's death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing'tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley'the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.   By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.

Review by Publisher Summary 7

From the author of The Queen of the Night, an essay collection exploring how we form our identities in life, in politics, and in art