Jen Webb reviews 'Release the Bats: Writing your way out of it' by DBC Pierre and 'The Writer’s Room: Conversations about writing' by Charlotte Wood

Writers have, it seems, an insatiable appetite for reading about writing; and such advice comes in various forms. There are books that promise to teach their readers how to write in any form or genre imaginable. There are books on grammar and punctuation, on contracts, on making a living, on managing your profile. Whatever you want, it seems, you'll be able to find; though the quality is not always certain. This year the publishers have provided two more books in this idiom, each of which enriches the genre. Charlotte Wood, herself an accomplished author, talks with equally accomplished writers about their experience of the business – the life – of writing. (This prodigious effort is made more impressive by the fact that, at the same time, she was writing her Stella Prize-winning novel The Natural Way of Things [2016].) DBC Pierre, enfant terrible of the early 2000s and author of the Booker Prize-winning Vernon God Little (2003), offers what the blurb calls an 'irreverent guide to writing fiction', one that skips through principles and technical aspects, and weaves it together with anecdotes from his larger-than-life life.

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Published in October 2016, no. 385

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