First Impression Friday: “The Half-Known World” by Robert Boswell

This is my way to attempt to make finishing up my thesis reading list “fun.”

Originally, I had myself scheduled to finish all of my thesis reading by the end of May. And yet, here we are on June 15, and I’m only two books into my twelve book list. I know that I’ll be able to finish it in the next few weeks, but I’m still avoiding checking my email because I’m terrified of seeing something from my thesis director. I’ve already missed graduating this past semester, and I am going to graduate in December no matter what. That means I’m going to buckle down. My director told me I could push the end of my reading list back to July and still be okay, but I’m still a little terrified. I’m going to finish this no matter what!

The past few weeks have just been insane. I’ve moved twice, finally gotten my furniture ordered (delivery date: June 28th!!!!), I’ve set up my kitchen and everything in it, and now I’m hoping I’ve gotten everything finally straightened out. It’s been an extremely hectic beginning to the summer (plus I’m still adjusting to this whole “spending nine hours at a windowless office” full-time job thing), and I think it’s finally starting to slow down.

Anyway. This is what’s called a fiction craft book, meaning that it discusses how to write and what to write when you’re writing specific types of books. This was recommended by my director, and so far, I think it’s going to be a bit dry. I’ve never been able to really pay attention to craft books, but I’m really trying since I’ve got to turn in my notes on my reading list in just a few weeks.

From Goodreads:

Robert Boswell has been writing, reading, and teaching literature for more than twenty years. In this sparkling collection of essays, he brings this vast experience and a keen critical eye to bear on craft issues facing literary writers. Examples from masters such as Leo Tolstoy, Flannery O’Connor, and Alice Munro illustrate this engaging discussion of what makes great writing.

At the same time, Boswell moves readers beyond the classroom, candidly sharing the experiences that have shaped his own writing life. A chance encounter in a hotel bar leads to a fascinating glimpse into his imaginative process. And through the story of a boyhood adventure, Boswell details how important it is for writers to give themselves over to what he calls the “half-known world” of fiction, where surprise and meaning converge.

Image result for the half known world robert boswell bookCharacters: This is about how to write, so it doesn’t have any conventional characters.

Plot: As mentioned above, this is a craft book, so there’s no real plot. However, skimming through the book, it does appear that each chapter deals with a specific type of writing, like political writing or mystery writing. I’m going to keep an eye on the stuff involving Alternate Worlds, since that’s what my entire novel is about: a character who gets trapped in an alternate world and attempts to figure out how to get home.

Writing: Boswell starts the book out with a story from his own childhood, about how he and a friend attempted to follow a river on an adventure and ended up getting (almost) hopelessly lost. That part was interesting, but I am afraid that things are going to dry up in the upcoming chapters because focusing on how to write can only hold my attention for so long before I start to drift. This is probably why I’m so far behind on my reading list: because I don’t want to read all of these boring books. Time to kick it into gear, Lauren! You’ve got things to finish and a degree to obtain!

Prediction: It’s got 4.2 stars on GoodReads, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to rate it quite that highly. So far, it’s nothing super intellectually stimulating, and I feel like this is going to be something that I somehow dread finishing. We’ll see how this goes.

Have you ever read any fiction craft books? What are your recommendations?

Sorry if this one was a little boring — it’s probably going to be boring until I finish this looming stack of books for my thesis.

But as always, keep reading.

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