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Best of the Writer’s Workshop: Anthony Doerr

Dear Blog Buddies,

We will be away at camp all week, hanging out with 225 paying customers of our closest friends + some of the best writers in the world. And while most of you won’t be able to join us for conversations about syntactic patterns, drinks on the lawn, and late night duels over the Metaphysical I, we still wanted to give you a glimpse of what takes place every summer at our Writer’s Workshop.

All week long we will be posting some of our favorite readings and lectures from past workshops.

Feel free to pour yourself a cold one, stretch out on the lawn, and indulge in a good old fashioned summer (literary) romance.


Tin House

Break the pre- off the –dictable
We are creatures of habit. A bald Russian army-commissar-turned-literary-critic named Viktor Shklovsky said in 1917, “Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one’s wife, and the fear of war.” What he meant is that the mind makes a sort of algebra out of the world and in doing so robs us of some of the intensity of experience.  To eat a banana for the thousandth time is nothing like eating a banana for the first time.  To have sex with somebody for the thousandth time is nothing like having sex with that person for the first time.  Shklovsky argued that the role of art is to remove objects from the “automatism of perception.”  That is, successful art gives the sensations of life back to us. We’ll look at how words are arranged within sentences, the songs of baby white-crowned sparrows, a couple lines by Herbert Spencer, Doritos, and lots of other stuff to try to discover how we can use our work to crack apart the habitual and make the world new again

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