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Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

by Joe Fassler (Editor)

Other authors: Sherman Alexie (Contributor), Jesse Ball (Contributor), Aimee Bender (Contributor), TC Boyle (Contributor), Ethan Canin (Contributor)41 more, Michael Chabon (Contributor), Billy Collins (Contributor), Jim Crace (Contributor), Edwidge Danticat (Contributor), Junot Diaz (Contributor), Emma Donoghue (Contributor), Andre Dubus III (Contributor), Angela Flournoy (Contributor), Jonathan Franzen (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Mary Gaitskill (Contributor), Roxane Gay (Contributor), William Gibson (Contributor), Elizabeth Gilbert (Contributor), Lev Grossman (Contributor), Mark Haddon (Contributor), Kathryn Harrison (Contributor), Khaled Hosseini (Contributor), Leslie Jamison (Contributor), Stephen King (Contributor), Karl Ove Knausgaard (Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Contributor), Yiyun Li (Contributor), Ben Marcus (Contributor), Ayana Mathis (Contributor), Claire Messud (Contributor), David Mitchell (Contributor), Walter Mosley (Contributor), Eileen Myles (Contributor), Azar Nafisi (Contributor), Viet Thanh Nguyen (Contributor), Tom Perrotta (Contributor), Marilynne Robinson (Contributor), Jim Shepard (Contributor), Maggie Shipstead (Contributor), Charles Simic (Contributor), Jane Smiley (Contributor), Amy Tan (Contributor), Jeff Tweedy (Contributor), Hanya Yanagihara (Contributor), Nell Zink (Contributor)

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1384197,902 (4.09)10
"What inspires you? That's the simple, but profound question more than forty renowned authors answer in LIGHT THE DARK. Each author picks a favorite passage--from a novel, a song, a poem--to reveal what gets them started and keeps them going doing the creative work they love. From there, incredible stories of life changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking a volume of Stephen King stories into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how discovering Toni Morrison's Beloved in college taught Junot Diaz how art can create communities of shared experience. Here is a stunning guide to creative living and writing in the vein of Bird by Bird, Big Magic, and Daily Rituals for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration and how to find some of your own. Writer Joe Fassler has been collecting these lessons in his beloved "By Heart" series for The Atlantic, spinning conversations with hundreds of authors into motivating essays paired with striking illustrations. Light the Dark collects the best of "By Heart" and adds brand new pieces from award-winning writers like Marilynne Robinson, Junot Diaz, and Neil Gaiman"--… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Forty-six short chapters from writers describing other writers and books that have inspired them. Great stuff. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
Bought this based on rave reviews and it usually is exactly the sort of thing I soak up like a sponge. I love writing, creativity, and windows into others' artistic process...especially that of writers. I appreciate and admire the work of all the authors included. It is exactly as described and how others described it and yet, I gave myself permission to give up about 45% of the way in.

It became tedious and tiresome, repetitive in the patterns, if not the specifics. Or, maybe it wasn't the read I needed at the time I chose to read it. I think the biggest issue for me:

Reading and writing are such an intimate and immersive experience--I read and write because I love it, not because I'm ever going to be well-known or broadly read. The author's essays were personal, yes, but most of them came across as something they'd written for themselves rather than to generously inspire other writers. Reading this felt like I was an uninvited backstage guest without actually having a ticket to the performance.

That said, it may just be me, so if you're drawn to the description, for sure, give it a try. It may be exactly what you want it to be or better. ( )
  angiestahl | Jul 29, 2019 |
I LOVE reading about the creative habits of successful people, which is why I'm biased towards shop-talk subjects like this. I get why most book readers would rather have the final product, and not a behind-the-scenes look, but there's something mesmerizing about seeing the seed of an idea transform into its final, polished form. For me it's like getting the origin story of a demi-god who started out as a commoner.

You'll hear from known writers such as Sherman Alexie, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Lev Grossman, Jonathan Frazen, Marilynne Robinson and Neil Gaiman reflect on the BIG questions of life and living and how those questions are illuminated through literature, and ultimately how that process informs their work as an author.

The title, "Light the Dark," has a dual meaning. On the surface, it encompasses the daily process of composing an often-unknown narrative, which is an underappreciated, laborious and solitary task, and one that is also common among all writers. The title also hints at a deeper, more primal reason of why writers write, and similarly readers read. The world can be a darkness on the soul if we let it. Literature is a collective project of the human race, stretching all the way back to its beginning, and its main purpose I believe is to light our way forward. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Aug 16, 2018 |
In Light the Dark, everyone in this book is a writer. So, if you think about the wealth of creativity wrapped up in this short book... it is AMAZING. It truly made me feel nostalgic. Like, I should go and curl up in the corner and read all these author's again for the millionth time. And, then when I had that completed, I could read the writing that inspired them.

As I mentioned with excess enthusiasm, everyone in this book is a WRITER. Plus, these writer's, are writing about the ...writing.. that inspires them. So, this book definitely has a little bit of magic in it.

Yes, I did a read aloud. And, I devoured this book. I don't want to give to much away. But, I will give you a glimpse, within boundaries, of what appealed, and what troubled me.

I really like that the writers immerse themselves in reading and attribute their inspiration to other writer's. I also appreciate that many value the importance of using simple things we all are born with ... imagination, curiosity and the ability to observe.

What keeps them going? Well, that is a great question for the individual.

Perhaps some of these writers were never told to table their imagination, or to tone down their curiosity. Perhaps for some, there is no resistance to their creativity. Maybe they look within, and write down everything they observe...everything they dream.

This is profound in that it reads like restless and astute surges of creative minds. So much so, that I catch something new each time I go back an re-read a section. Yes. I am already rereading it.

I absolutely love that the short books are covered too. Poetry. I love Poetry.

Was it all good? Well NO. Don't most characters have downfalls?

Many of these writer's overcame great obstacles to produce their creations.The writer's are blatantly honest. And, as reader's, we are agonizingly aware of their vulnerabilities. And, at times, it feels like we have a kindred spirit for the complexities of life.

Overall, this book helps reader's to feel deep emotion, and a connection to the writer. And, it places a face on their process.

Not the catchy title of their book.

Not an intense line of their poetry.

But, a face. A self-aware....inhabiting .... face. One filled with emotion and wonder..one that makes each reader aware that the writer's process is as UNIQUE...as the writer.

Review ARC for Penguin Group and Net Galley. ( )
  LorisBook | Jul 16, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fassler, JoeEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexie, ShermanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ball, JesseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bender, AimeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyle, TCContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canin, EthanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chabon, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collins, BillyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crace, JimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, JunotContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Donoghue, EmmaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dubus III, AndreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Flournoy, AngelaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franzen, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gay, RoxaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gibson, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grossman, LevContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haddon, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, KathrynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hosseini, KhaledContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jamison, LeslieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Knausgaard, Karl OveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Li, YiyunContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marcus, BenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mathis, AyanaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Messud, ClaireContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mosley, WalterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Myles, EileenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nafisi, AzarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nguyen, Viet ThanhContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Perrotta, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Robinson, MarilynneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shepard, JimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shipstead, MaggieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simic, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smiley, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tan, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tweedy, JeffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yanagihara, HanyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zink, NellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"What inspires you? That's the simple, but profound question more than forty renowned authors answer in LIGHT THE DARK. Each author picks a favorite passage--from a novel, a song, a poem--to reveal what gets them started and keeps them going doing the creative work they love. From there, incredible stories of life changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking a volume of Stephen King stories into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how discovering Toni Morrison's Beloved in college taught Junot Diaz how art can create communities of shared experience. Here is a stunning guide to creative living and writing in the vein of Bird by Bird, Big Magic, and Daily Rituals for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration and how to find some of your own. Writer Joe Fassler has been collecting these lessons in his beloved "By Heart" series for The Atlantic, spinning conversations with hundreds of authors into motivating essays paired with striking illustrations. Light the Dark collects the best of "By Heart" and adds brand new pieces from award-winning writers like Marilynne Robinson, Junot Diaz, and Neil Gaiman"--

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