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review 2017-07-11 18:57
THE PROCESS Review
The Process (is a Process All Its Own) - Peter Straub

I believe my review of Peter Straub's latest novella, The Process (or, as it was originally titled, Hello Jack, which I much preferred!) is the first on Goodreads. I feel so honored!

 

Folks, I spent forty bucks on this book. It's a limited, signed edition and was published by Subterranean Press. They do good work, and this is no exception. This one is beautiful, and so nice to hold! Do I regret spending that much money on a ninety-page novella? Despite my 3-star rating, I would answer that question with an emphatic NO. Peter Straub is one of my favorite authors, and this is his first release of new fiction in seven years. And it's signed! No regrets here.

 

Despite Straub being one of my favorite authors, I must admit I've not read anything of his that was released after Floating Dragon. I haven't read the Blue Rose trilogy, or The Hellfire Club. Nothing. Nada. So reading this — a work released in 2017 — was a bit jarring because, naturally, Straub's voice has changed as he's gotten older. His language seems a bit more concise now, which is great . . . but this novella totally lacked the atmosphere of his earlier stuff. His '70s and '80s novels oozed with mood and feeling; Straub always put his strange and puzzling locations to good use. Here, he doesn't. Bummer.

 

This little story concerns itself with Tillman Hayward (a Straubian character name if there ever was one!), a fictional serial killer from the 1950s. Apparently this guy has appeared in a few other novellas by Straub, but I have not read those. For the most part, this story remains in the head of this guy — often referred to as "Tilly" — and I must say he's pretty darn creepy! I thought his association of words with smells was fitting, creative, and very well written. Unfortunately, at seemingly random moments Straub jerks the reader away from Tilly's first person narration and plunks said reader down into the happenings of other characters. Those moments bored me to tears, and I found myself racing through the pages to get back to what Tilly was up to.

 

Like all Straub stories, this is a bit of a challenge. It's a horrific mystery of the highest literary order. I cannot pretend to have totally gotten everything that was going on, and I'm sure that's the point. But it's a bit of a mess. I finished feeling more confused than anything. I will reread this . . . maybe soon? For now, though, I will give it three stars. I liked it, but it could have been so much more.

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review 2017-01-18 07:06
The Writer's Process more validation than revelation

 

I came to this book, The Writer's Process, Getting Your Brain in Gear, with extreme

prejudice. I find it hard to believe creativity can be taught. After reading Anne Janzer's book I still feel that way, but she's made me believe that creativity can be nurtured and maybe even enhanced.

 

Janzer's approach is scientific and it's backed by experts in the field of psychology and cognitive study. But understanding the mental process doesn't tell us how to activate it. What the author sets about to do is "label groups of mental processes that we can activate when needed."

 

The book is divided into three parts.

 

The first part, The Inner Gears, describes how the brain works using the term Scribe for areas of focus, discipline and writing craft. Processes like intuition, creativity and empathy are the domain of The Muse.

 

The second part, The Process, Start to Finish, sets forth and elaborates on the seven steps of the writing process beginning with research and ending with publication. The chapter on Revision in itself is worth the price of the book.

 

Part three, Writers in the World, has some practical advice on how to address problems all writers face including finding time to write, dealing with criticism, and working through writer's block.

 

If you're a creative person, specifically a writer, you're likely incorporating many of the suggestions Janzer puts forth in The Writer's Process. If that's the case this book will not be so much revelation as a validation.

 

And what's wrong with that?

 

 

 

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