How to Write Like Tolstoy: A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers (Paperback)

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Description


A thought-provoking journey inside the minds of the world’s most accomplished storytellers, from Shakespeare to Stephen King

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SPECTATOR • “Richard Cohen’s book acted as a tonic to me. It didn’t make me more Russian, but it fired up my imagination. I have never annotated a book so fiercely.”—Hilary Mantel

“There are three rules for writing a novel,” Somerset Maugham is said to have said. “Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” How then to bring characters to life, find a voice, kill your darlings, or run that most challenging of literary gauntlets, writing a sex scene? What made Nabokov choose the name Lolita? Why did Fitzgerald use firstperson narration in The Great Gatsby ? How did Kerouac, who raged against revision, finally come to revise On the Road ?

Veteran editor and author Richard Cohen takes us on an engrossing journey into the lives and minds of the world’s greatest writers, from Honoré de Balzac and George Eliot to Virginia Woolf and Zadie Smith—with a few mischievous detours to visit Tolstoy along the way. In a scintillating tour d’horizon, Cohen lays bare the tricks, motivations, and techniques of the literary greats, revealing their obsessions and flaws and how we can learn from them along the way.

About the Author


Richard Cohen is the former publishing director of Hutchinson and Hodder & Stoughton and the founder of Richard Cohen Books. The author of By the Sword and Chasing the Sun, he has written for The New York Times and most leading London newspapers, and appeared on BBC radio and television.

Praise For…


“The highest compliment one can pay How to Write Like Tolstoy is that it provokes an overwhelming urge to read and write, to be in dialogue or even doomed competition with the greatest creative minds . . . .  That Mr. Cohen is an editor, that his love of literature comes in large part from awe in the presence of better writers than he, is no small matter. His love is infectious, and regardless of how well he ends up teaching us to write, that is miracle enough.”Wall Street Journal

“[A] perfect tasting menu . . . the homage of a passionate reader to the writers who have provided his ‘main pastime.’ ”The Sunday Times (U.K.)

“This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. It is filled with cogent examples and provoking statements. You will agree or quarrel with each page, and be a sharper writer and reader by the end.”—Hilary Mantel

“These twelve essays are like twelve perfect university lectures on the craft of writing fiction. The professor—or, in this case, author—succeeds in being not only knowledgeable but also interesting, charming, and engaging. . . . [Richard] Cohen reveals the possibilities that lie in wait when authors practice selection and intention, sparking the literary imagination.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Insightful . . . [Cohen] escorts his readers to Iris Murdoch for sage counsel on launching a novel, to Salman Rushdie for shrewd guidance on developing an unreliable narrator, to Rudyard Kipling for a cagey hint on creating memorable minor characters, and to Leo Tolstoy for a master’s help in transforming personal experience into fictional art. Even readers with no intentions of writing a novel will relish the opportunity to join their favorite authors at the workbench.”Booklist

“An elegant, chatty how-to book on writing well, using the lessons of many of the world’s best writers . . . [Cohen] draws on plentiful advice from past and present literary titans. . . . The process of gathering advice from prominent contemporary authors such as Francine Prose, Jonathan Franzen, and Nick Hornby gives Cohen the opportunity to tell any number of amusing, often discursive stories about great literature and authors, mixed with the writers’ own observations.”Publishers Weekly

“Lush and instructive . . . [Cohen] is a generous tour guide through his literary world.”Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812987737
ISBN-10: 081298773X
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 352
Language: English