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Mentors, Muses & Monsters

Mentors, Muses & Monsters

30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives

Edited and with a contribution by Elizabeth Benedict, thirty of today's brightest literary lights turn their attention to the question of mentorship and influence.

For Denis Johnson, it was Leonard Gardner's cult favorite Fat City; for Jonathan Safran Foer, it was an encounter with Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai; Mary Gordon's mentors were two Barnard professors, writers Elizabeth Hardwick and Janice Thaddeus, whose lessons could not have been more different. In Mentors, Muses & Monsters, edited and with a contribution by Elizabeth Benedict, author of the National Book Award finalist Slow Dancing, thirty of today's literary stars discuss the people, events, and books that have transformed their lives.

When Joyce Carol Oates describes her public-rivalry-turned-wary-professional-acquaintanceship with Donald Barthelme, we are privy to the sight of one of today's most important writers being directly affected by another influential writer. When Sigrid Nunez reveals what it was like to be Susan Sontag's protégé, we get a glimpse into the private life and working philosophy of a formidable public intellectual. And when Jane Smiley describes her first year at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1974, she offers an intimate portrait of a literary milieu of enduring significance for American literature.

Rich, thought-provoking, and often impassioned, these pieces illuminate not only the anxiety but the necessity of influence—and also the treasures it yields.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439127858 | 
  • October 2009
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Elizabeth Benedict: Mentors, Muses & Monsters

A collection of essays by 30 of today's most important writers detailing the people, events, or books that have influenced their writing.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Benedict
Emma Dodge Hanson

Elizabeth Benedict

Elizabeth Benedict is the author of five novels, including the bestseller Almost (which Fresh Air’s Maureen Corrigan chose as one of her top five novels of 2001), The Practice of Deceit, and Slow Dancing, which wasshort-listed for the National Book Award and The LA Times Book Prize. She is also the author of The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers, which is used widely in creative writing programs in the US and abroad. She writes regularly about books and culture for The Huffington Post and has just launched a regular Huff Po column, “Read Any Good Books Lately?” Her nonfiction also appears in The New York Times, Esquire, Tin House, Harper’s Bazaar, The American Prospect, Allure, Salmagundi, and many other publications. She’s taught fiction and non-fiction writing at Princeton, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Swarthmore College, and the Harvard Extension. She lives in New York City and Boston.

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