Cover image for Letters to a fiction writer
Letters to a fiction writer
Busch, Frederick, 1941-2006.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
291 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN3355 .L38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A collection of essays from notable writers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, and Andre Dubus, that offers advice, wisdom, and insight to fiction writers about the art of writing and surviving the writing life.

Author Notes

Frederick Bush's most recent novel is The Night Inspector, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is Fairchild Professor of Literature at Colgate University.

(Publisher Provided) Frederick Busch was born on August 1, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. Busch graduated from Muhlenberg College and earned a master's degree from Columbia. He was professor emeritus of literature at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York from 1966 to 2003. He won numerous awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award in 1986, the PEN/Malamud Award in 1991, 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award Nomination for "The Night Inspector", and 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction finalist, for "The Night Inspector".

His works include "A Memory of War", "North: A Novel", and "Rescue Missions".

He passed away on February 23, 2006 in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Novelist Busch offered his views on the writing life in A Dangerous Profession (1998) and now presents a set of letters from established writers to anxious beginners. Many are authentic correspondence, others are letters-by-invitation written specifically for this volume, and all convey the writers' personality and offer glimpses into their approach to this mysterious practice. Richard Bausch hands down his "Ten Commandments," believing how you live is more important than technique, although number 10 states: "Be wary of all general advice." Rosellen Brown writes generously and knowingly about the balancing acts writing requires and admits that when asked how she managed to publish nine books, teach, and raise children she responds, "I said no a lot." Each contributor, from Charles Baxter to Andre Dubus, Reynolds Price, Melanie Rae Thon, and Tobias Wolff, makes the point that writing fiction is a serious business involving deep commitment and ongoing sacrifice. And Joyce Carol Oates takes it one step further: "The novel is the affliction for which only the novel is the cure." --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Busch, the author of 22 books including A Dangerous Profession: A Book About the Writing Life, brings together letters by 33 authorsÄamong them Shelby Foote, Ray Bradbury, and Joyce Carol OatesÄwho graciously share their thoughts on the art of writing and being a writer. There is always the danger of unevenness in a collection of letters, many of which are personal correspondence, but Busch chooses well. Many aspiring fiction writers will feel that the authors are speaking directly to them. Some, such as Raymond Carver, talk about the dark side of fiction writing, in his case his battle with alcoholism. In this age of E-mail, a letter from a friend seems like a wonderful prize to be savored over and over. This collection gives that same feeling and will be dipped into many times. To inspire and instruct both new and experienced writers, this book is recommended for all libraries.ÄLisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Frederick BuschLee K. AbbottRichard BauschCharles BaxterAnn BeattieRay BradburyDavid BradleyRosellen BrownJanet BurrowayRaymond CarverMalcolm CowleyNicholas DelbancoAndre DubusPam DurbanShelby FooteJohn GardnerGeorge GarrettShelby HearonJanette Turner HospitalLewis LaphamStanley W. LindbergJoyce Carol OatesReynolds PriceMegan StaffelMelanie Rae ThonJohn UpdikeJames WelchTobias WolffHilma WolitzerCaroline GordonFlannery O'ConnorJohn HawkesJoanna Scott
Notep. ix
Introductionp. 2
Speaking for Myselfp. 12
Dear Writerp. 23
Full of Itp. 31
Letter to a Young Fiction Writerp. 53
Dear Dan Chaonp. 60
Letter to a Writerp. 63
You Are Not Here Longp. 92
Re: Envyp. 103
Dear Mr. Hallstromp. 110
Letter to John Cheeverp. 114
Dear Franz Kp. 117
Letter to a Young Writerp. 136
That Way He Could Work Itp. 144
Letter to Walker Percyp. 150
Letter to Joanna Higginsp. 156
You Are Adam and You Are Evep. 163
Letter to Gail Greinerp. 177
Letter to a Younger Writer Met at a Conferencep. 179
Ars longa, vita brevisp. 189
But before You Startp. 199
To a Young Writerp. 208
Letter to a Young Writerp. 214
Dear Lauriep. 223
Letter to a Young Fiction Writerp. 226
Two Communications to Nicholas Delbanco, Summer 1962p. 231
Letter to a Young Writerp. 234
To Jerryp. 248
Supporting Your Habitp. 253
Continuump. 263
Letter to Flannery O'Connorp. 264
To John Hawkesp. 281
Letter to Joanna Scottp. 283
Dear Megp. 286
Permissionsp. 289