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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: From the Man…
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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York… (original 2021; edition 2021)

by George Saunders (Auteur)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6822127,182 (4.52)30
From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves--and our world today. For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. In his introduction, Saunders writes, "We're going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art--namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?" He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible. *This audiobook includes a PDF of the tables, outlines, figures, and appendices from the book.… (more)
Member:LizMo
Title:A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo
Authors:George Saunders (Auteur)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2021), Edition: 01, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders (2021)

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» See also 30 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Great inside and explanation (if if one not always agrees) on stories and story writing. Very coherent. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Apr 10, 2022 |
The author uses these classic Russian short stories to determine the purpose of "great" fiction, what does it accomplish and the relationship between author and reader. ( )
  MM_Jones | Apr 1, 2022 |
Is there someway I can hack into the LibraryThing database and make it so I can give this book 6 stars? ( )
  BooksForDinner | Mar 21, 2022 |
Golly, I really would love to take a class with George Saunders. This was so good. I've loved Chekhov for some time, but this made me realize I am way late to the Tolstoy game. I will correct that ASAP. But mostly I found this to be a great supplement to writing craft books I’ve been reading for classes. His observations about narrative structure and a reader’s relationship to a story are deftly explained. I learned quite a bit about these authors and uniquely Russian narrative techniques as well, some of which I have already encountered but did not recognize as Russian devices. For instance, I performed Chekhov’s The Evils of Tobacco years ago in college and now recognize the “skaz” technique Saunders explains via Gogol’s Nose.

I wonder if there are more books like this, well regarded fiction authors analyzing classics in an accessible, non-academic style. I’d read another book of Russian lit with Saunders or probably any literature he cared to discuss with his natural voice. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
This is so good. If you are a writer or reader, take my word for it and buy a copy. ( )
  auldhouse | Jan 24, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Saunders, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chekhov, AntonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gogol, NikolaiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tolstoy, LeoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turgenev, IvanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Ivan Ivanych came out of the cabin, plunged into the water which a splash and swam in the rain, thrusting his arms out wide; he raised waves on which white lilies swayed. He swam out to the middle of the river and dived and a minute later came up in another spot and swam on and kept diving, trying to touch bottom. "By God!" he kept repeating delightedly, "by God!" He swam to the mill, spoke to the peasants there, and turned back and in the middle of the river lay floating, exposing his face to the rain. Burkin and Alyohim were already dressed and ready to leave, but he kept swimming and diving. "By God!" he kept exclaiming, "Lord, have mercy on me."

"You've had enough!" Burkin shouted to him.

–Anton Chekov, "Gooseberries"
Dedication
To my students at Syracuse, past, present, and future
And in grateful memory of Susan Kamil
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For the last twenty years, at Syracuse University, I've been teaching a class in the nineteenth-century Russian short story in translation.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves--and our world today. For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. In his introduction, Saunders writes, "We're going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art--namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?" He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible. *This audiobook includes a PDF of the tables, outlines, figures, and appendices from the book.

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