Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates

I am always amazed how prolific Joyce Carol Oates is as a writer! It seems like every time you turn around she is out with a newly published book. 

Prior to reading The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, I'd only read one book written by Joyce Carol Oates. It was a collection of short stories in a book titled, The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense... I wasn't impressed with this collection of darkly written stories. I didn't quite understand the appeal of Joyce Carol Oates as a writer after reading this particular collection of her writing. 

However, I've always felt like I should give Joyce Carol Oates another chance and read something else written by her. So, I decided to read The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates.

I enjoyed reading The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates, although it was different than I expected it to be. It's a collection of essays written by Joyce Oates, which I wasn't expecting. I thought The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, would solely focus on Joyce Carol Oates's writing alone and perhaps contain snippets of autobiographical tidbits about her life.

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art does focus on aspects of Joyce Carol Oates's writing, but this book also focuses on the writing of other authors as it pertains to the topics Oates discusses in each of the essays. This book is a much deeper read than I anticipated it to be as well. It's short and powerful.

My favorite essays in The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art were the following four essays: The Writer's Studio, "JCO" & I, To A Young Writer, and Running and Writing.

The following is the publisher's summary for The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates from Amazon:
Joyce Carol Oates is widely regarded as one of America's greatest contemporary literary figures. Having written in a number of genres -- prose, poetry, personal and critical essays, as well as plays -- she is an artist ideally suited to answer essential questions about what makes a story striking, a novel come alive, a writer an artist as well as a craftsman.
In The Faith of a Writer, Oates discusses the subjects most important to the narrative craft, touching on topics such as inspiration, memory, self-criticism, and "the unique power of the unconscious." On a more personal note, she speaks of childhood inspirations, offers advice to young writers, and discusses the wildly varying states of mind of a writer at work. Oates also pays homage to those she calls her "significant predecessors" and discusses the importance of reading in the life of a writer.

Oates claims, "Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make 'art': for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design." In fourteen succinct chapters, The Faith of a Writer provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience are assembled to create art.
I am giving The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!


  1. I am a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates. Her stories are dark, always dark, but she writes them so well. I had not heard of this essay collection. You would do well to try one of her novels but be prepared for a certain amount of weirdness.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will have to check out more of her writing for sure.

  2. Sad.. my library doesn't have this one... Cheers

    1. Sorry to her that your library doesn't have this book!! Cheers to you as well!!