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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin comes a lesson in how to be a writer - and so much more than that.

Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his listeners to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear.

A paean to the power of language, both by argument and by example, Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.

These 52 essays are ultimately a profound challenge to a new generation to bring truth and light to a dark world through their art.

©2017 Colum McCann (P)2017 Random House Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable comments on being a writer

The author offers some very personal insights about what it means to be a writer. Some are simply good advice about what it takes to be a good person. From time to time i toy with doing a little writing but can't truly call myself a writer. I found this book inspired me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Cutting

A well of crisp and sharp advice conveyed with perfectly ordered words.
Mr. McCann is also one of the few writers who can perfectly narrate his own works. I'll assume that if you are an audiobook listener and care about what he has to say on writing (Is that a contradiction?) you have already listened to his works. But if not, you must get Thirteen Ways of Looking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Powerful and Moving Manifesto for Young Writers

These fifty-two essays are short in length but full on passion and even if you are not are a writer or plan on becoming one, McCann's zeal for his craft is so contagious that if you are anything like me, you would find yourself inspired by how beautifully and intimately he describes it.

Aspiring young writers will also find quite a bit of advice. This ranges from the purely utilitarian and practical ("Write wherever you feel comfortable","Read Aloud,"Carry a notebook), to the more essential ("To MFA or Not to MFA", "Language and Plot", "How to get an agent"). Still, the author's goal seems to be to sustain his readers aspirations and inspirations, rather than to provide a laundry list on how to become a successful writer.

Although I am obviously not part of the book's intended audience, I still found quite a few helpful philosophical nuggets and practical advice: There are moments when you just have to rely on your instincts; In life, just like in writing, there are no manuals and sometimes rules have to be broken and last but certainly not least, don't be a dick!

As for the author's audio narration, what can I say? There's something about the expression "Just keep your arse on the chair" that sounds much better with an Irish accent. Pure perfection.

A moving, inspiring and powerful manifesto. Highly Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Many topics on many subjects for many writers

This is a book for writers of all levels. In a series of 55 letters Colum McCann covers both the craft and the industry of writing. Topics such as grammer, agents, use of language, characters and plots are covered with a peppering of motivational insiration. Most of these topics have been covered elsewhere and in more depth, but McCann is a writer and it shows. The letters that form the book are both insightful and entertaining. I wrote more as a hobby than a passion but I found a lot in this book to use. It is equal to Stephen Kings excellent book 'On writing' although the book is more scholarly. The narration comes off more like a series of lectures than a memoir and is focused on the craft. McCann rarely references his own work but still manages to prove deeply into the subject. An excellent book on writing that will be useful to writers for years to come.

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  • 06-23-18

Incredible!

Along with great writing advice, this book is therapy for the writer's soul. I absolutely loved it.

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  • 08-19-17

Truth and rage

so generously shared.

("11 words remaining" demanded, unsaid, unnecessary, unwanted but nevertheless required in order to say - "truth and glorious honesty so generously shared.) WM

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Inspiring essays for ink slingers.

Read by the author, this is a wonderful inspiring collection of essays. A daunting double-dog-dare to the would-be writer. His words gentle and encouraging despite acknowledging the sometimes heartbreaking nature of the creative life. He covers a range of topics some more pertinent to me than others, but I believe there is something here for everyone.

Part of the charm of this particular work is that the author is the narrator. And he has a lovely accent. Something about his manner of speaking enhances his message (a la Neil Gaiman) or perhaps it's just sexy.