The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
I know this is book isn’t a classic, but—holy cow!—I just have to rave about it. Stephen King was right when called Levin the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel.
The Stepford Wives was so readable. No, not easy to read, but readable. There are a lot of disturbing themes regarding gender in the book, but Levin was so succinct. He never wasted a single word, and he makes writing look so easy. I highly recommend this one.
The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates
At first, I thought this collection of essays on the writing process reeked of pretentiousness. Oates used a lot of big words like mimesis, memorialization, obliqueness, etc, and there’s a lot of self-clapping on the back involved. I also found some of the essays—one about running and writing, in particular—boring.
HOWEVER, I loved practically all of the quotes by other writers Oates used in the book. My particular favorites are the following:
To Whom the Mornings stand for Nights,
What must the Midnights—be! - Emily Dickinson
Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze too long into an abyss—the abyss will gaze back into you. - NietzscheThe essays I did like weren’t about Oates’s experiences, but were usually collections of anecdotes about other writers and books—Notes on Failure, Inspiration, and Reading as a Writer. I liked the last one, Reading as a Writer, best. It detailed how writers are sometimes subconsciously influenced by the things they read. According to the essay, for example, Virginia Woolf was influenced by James Joyce, despite considering Ulysses a “book of a self taught working man.”