One of the most interesting things about this book is how attitudes have changed in regards to what it means to be an author.
The Art of Fiction – Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner, was published in 1984, long before the advent of online platforms that make self-publishing free and easy to any and everyone.
This is not your “How to Write a Novel for Dummies” and Gardner definitely would not have supported “everyone’s right to publish” as proclaimed by many indie authors and the entire self-publishing industry.
Gardner felt that aspiring to be an author was almost akin to a “higher calling” and required rigorous study and practice. As well as hard work and sacrifice such a career choice came with duties and responsibilities.
The most important of which is telling the truth, and not just getting facts right, but making sure your fiction is believable and not perceived by the reader as a lie. Foremost it must “affirm moral truths about human existence”.
Good fiction according to Gardner “creates a vivid and continuous dream” for the reader.
Though the book contains good suggestions on craft they’re not presented point by point but rather embedded within the text. That means enduring a lot of with Gardner’s rather academic, elitist attitude.
Is it worth it? Definitely – if you’re serious about becoming an accomplished author.