How Fiction Works

How Fiction Works

By James Wood

Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312428471, 265pp.

Publication Date: July 21, 2009


In the tradition of E. M. Forster's "Aspects of the Novel" and Milan Kundera's "The Art of the Novel," "How Fiction Works" is a scintillating study of the magic of fiction--an analysis of its main elements and a celebration of its lasting power. Here one of the most prominent and stylish critics of our time looks into the machinery of storytelling to ask some fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we "know" a fictional character? What constitutes a telling detail? When is a metaphor successful? Is Realism realistic? Why do some literary conventions become dated while others stay fresh?

James Wood ranges widely, from Homer to "Make Way for Ducklings," from the Bible to John le Carre, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, "How Fiction Works" will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone else interested in what happens on the page.

About the Author
British-born author James Wood spins sensuous taboo tales. Themes of domination and submission predominate - of hands on legs and garter straps and ladies bound in silk.

Praise For How Fiction Works

"How Fiction Works should delight and enlighten practicing novelists, would-be novelists, and all passionate readers of fiction. . . .  Enchanting."--The Economist

"Wood's enthusiasm is glorious . . . a delight. . . . The pleasure in this book lies in watching Wood read."--Time

"An articulate reminder of the framework that is essential to constructing a lasting work of the imagination."--The Miami Herald

"Wood is among the few contemporary writers of great consequence. . . . Reading Wood, no matter the book under review, provides enormous pleasure."--Los Angeles Times

"A fiercely committed critic and consummate stylist."--John Banville, The New York Review of Books

"A perceptive and graceful essay which almost anybody who's interested in books could read . . . Well worth reading."--The Sunday Times (UK)