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Publisher's Summary

With color, irony, and sensitivity, Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that is the writer’s life. As it probes and exposes, examines and analyzes, The Writing Life offers deeper insight into one of the most mysterious of professions.

©1989 Annie Dillard (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Annie Dillard is a wonderful writer, and The Writing Life is full of joys.” (New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Loved Annie Dillard

I always love memoirs ... and this book is kind of a memoir ... it's well written and exciting .. if you are like me fascinated with the life of writers and artists this book will give you a glimpse of what's it like to be a writer (an excellent book would be my reading life for par conroy ... i loved that one)

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 02-27-15

How Odd--How Poorly Written?!?

If you can weed through the flowery language, the endless adjectives and adjectives, you might find something here. I, however, feel that this was a waste of time. This had more the feel of a "reality check," which, okay, writers sure as hell need from time to time, but there was little wisdom offered in its place.
This is a very short work, not a lot of money, but still. The only thing worse than a waste of money is a waste of time. Save both of yours; go for a longer, more in-depth work for real education, real inspiration, real guidance.
Avoid the adjective/adverb exhaustion

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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A good place to start

If you've considered listening to Annie Dillard, I consider this a classic. I've owned this book in print form for a dozen or so years and have thought a lot about the content and how the content comes to all of us (the life of a writer). Be ready for great insights coming from small observances as well as fantastic stories that are commentaries on all of our lives. This is a writing to be pondered so let it sink in a little at a time.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam
  • United States
  • 04-14-13

Reads like a poem

This is written in the spirit of a long-form poem, as an ode to (and lamentation of) the creative life. There's some good information here—not presented as a to-do list, but rather as a story, where we learn from the example of the author and her life as a writer. The narrator is absolutely excellent, with her voice inflections worthy of a poetry performance.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Annie Dillard is a Master Story Teller

Dillard's style is almost mesmerizing. What she descrbes comes alive, it is so beautifully written,

The narrator was delightful as well,

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  • kylan
  • Montreal
  • 04-25-16

"Colorless to the Point of Sensory Deprivation"

A few (and I mean a few) worthwhile insights on the craft, but dry, dry, dry. Self absorbed and precious too, even conceded. She leaves out much of what the reader entering this book will want from it and includes most of what they will not.

Then you have deal-breakers such as the following: "It should surprise no one that the life of the writer--such as it is--is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author's childhood. A writer's childhood may well have been the occasion of his only firsthand experience."

...Really?

Ask yourself: how many writers, like Dillard, are privileged enough to be able to winter in seaside cabins in order to devote all their time to writing? How many writers, working in ANY genre, do not honour the real world as an irreplaceable and primary source, regardless how much or not they intend to reflect it? This is just one example of Dillard at her least self-scrutinizing and, for that fact, least wise. (Wisdom ostensibly being the book's offering.)

For a work whose focus boomerangs so frequently back to a writer's insecurities and uncertainties, "The Writing Life" is remarkably sure of itself, seemingly unaware that it's a shining example of why writers need such character flaws in the first place.

(Oh, and the narrator, by the way, does Dillard justice to a fault. Robotically monotonous and irritating from start to finish.)

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Great think-book on the fusion of emotional & tech

this book is a classic of course and I found a paper copy for some time. But I found this out of a reading of it engaging in its own way doing justice to the original and having a charm that came from a well selected narrator.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Must-Read for Writers, but a Difficult Listen

What did you like best about The Writing Life? What did you like least?

I've read this before and found it comforting and inspiring when the going got rough. Annie Dillard brings to her specific experiences a universal relevance. But as a listen, it's hard to stay with. It loses a lot of the charm and warmth of Dillard's authorial voice.

How could the performance have been better?

It was so stilted and careful in that way a lot of narrators can be when performing self-help, academic, and other non-fiction books.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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must read

good for all who are looking to write something. the imagery is fantastic.i loved it even more the second time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Climb into the brain and emotional life of a writer

After listening to this short book I got the feeling that I was given the privilege of experiencing what it is like to be a writer for many years. As the book progressed it became more difficult to understand and more difficult to describe. It's as if the progression through the book has left you more complicated. You have more questions but you're also wiser than you were before reading it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful