Since 1984, Literary Arts has welcomed many of the world’s most renowned authors and storytellers to its stage for one of the country’s largest lectures series. Sold-out crowds congregate at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to hear these writers’ discuss their work and their thoughts on the trajectory of contemporary literature and culture. In celebration of Literary Arts’ thirty-year anniversary, Tin House Books has collected highlights from the series in a single volume. Whether it’s Wallace Stegner exploring how we use fiction to make sense of life or Ursula K. Le Guin on where ideas come from, Margaret Atwood on the need for complex female characters or Robert Stone on morality and truth in literature, Edward P. Jones on the role of imagination in historical novels or Marilynne Robinson on the nature of beauty, these essays illuminate not just the world of letters but the world at large.
Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marilynne Robinson, Wallace Stegner, Robert Stone, and Jeanette Winterson.
"Far more than a compendium of dreary 'this is how and why I write' essays, these force readers to re-examine the ways they interact with words. The rhythm of syllables as they play against each other on the page and the way fiction, in particular, can transport us out of the here and now helps readers gain perspective and aids in our understanding of the world. . . With eloquence and grace, highly acclaimed authors ponder the complexities of the writer's life and art form."
"Dare I suggest that the unpublished majority find something . . . aspirational in the very act of reading these essays?"
—The Masters Review
Introduction by Jonathan Raymond
Margaret Atwood, “Spotty-Handed Villainesses: Problems of Female Bad Behavior in the Creation of Literature"
Russell Banks, "No, But I Saw the Movie"
Ursula K. Le Guin, “Where Do You Get Your Ideas From: Fantasy as Literature, not Genre"
Marilynne Robinson, "On Beauty"
Robert Stone, "Morality and Truth in Literature”
Wallace Stegner, “Fiction to Make Sense of Life"
Jeanette Winterson, “What Is Art For?"
Additional Essays by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, E.L. Doctorow, and Edward P. Jones.