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Mentors, Muses & Monsters

Mentors, Muses & Monsters

30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives

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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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INTRODUCTION

MENTORS, MUSES AND MOZART

The response to my invitation was overwhelming. One after another, in e-mails, on the phone, and in person, in a matter of weeks, two dozen fiction writers said yes, they wanted to contribute to this anthology. Some days I would hear from two or three or four people, saying yes, count me in. Of course, I was delighted—and slightly flabbergasted by the wellspring of enthusiasm. I seemed to have hit a nerve.

Several knew right away whom they wanted to write about—Mary Gordon on Elizabeth Hardwick and Janice Thaddeus, Jay Cantor on Bernard Malamud, Lily Tuck on Gordon... see more

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