How Novels Work

How Novels Work Drawing on his weekly Guardian column Elements of Fiction John Mullan offers an engaging look at the novel focusing mostly on works of the last ten years as he illuminates the rich resources of nov

  • Title: How Novels Work
  • Author: John Mullan
  • ISBN: 9780199281770
  • Page: 244
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Drawing on his weekly Guardian column, Elements of Fiction, John Mullan offers an engaging look at the novel, focusing mostly on works of the last ten years as he illuminates the rich resources of novelistic technique Mullan sheds light on some of the true masterworks of contemporary fiction, including Monica Ali s Brick Lane, J.M Coetzee s Disgrace, Don DeLillo s UndeDrawing on his weekly Guardian column, Elements of Fiction, John Mullan offers an engaging look at the novel, focusing mostly on works of the last ten years as he illuminates the rich resources of novelistic technique Mullan sheds light on some of the true masterworks of contemporary fiction, including Monica Ali s Brick Lane, J.M Coetzee s Disgrace, Don DeLillo s Underworld, Jonathan Franzen s The Corrections, Mark Haddon s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Patricia Highsmith s Ripley under Ground, Ian McEwan s Atonement, John le Carre s The Constant Gardener, Philip Roth s The Human Stain, Jonathan Safran Foer s Everything Is Illuminated, and Zadie Smith s White Teeth He highlights how these acclaimed authors use some of the basic elements of fiction Some topics like plot, dialogue, or location will appear familiar to most novel readers, while others meta narrative, prolepsis, amplification will open readers eyes to new ways of understanding and appreciating the writer s craft Mullan also excels at comparing modern and classic authors Nick Hornby s adoption of a female narrator is compared to Daniel Defoe s Ian McEwan s use of weather is set against Austen s and Hardy s How Novels Work explains how the pleasures of novel reading often come from the formal ingenuity of the novelist, making visible techniques and effects we are often only half aware of as we read It is an entertaining and stimulating volume that will captivate anyone who is interested in the contemporary or the classical novel.

    • ↠ How Novels Work || ✓ PDF Read by ↠ John Mullan
      244 John Mullan
    • thumbnail Title: ↠ How Novels Work || ✓ PDF Read by ↠ John Mullan
      Posted by:John Mullan
      Published :2019-02-27T16:54:23+00:00

    1 thought on “How Novels Work”

    1. How novels work is that they haunt you like a ghost, wind about your limbs like an anaconda, shake you like the wind shakes the barley, burn you like the eyes of a cop with too many bad stories to tell, charm you like next door's underwear hanging on the line to dry, electrify you like the Soviet Union 1920 to 1925, orbit you like cats in boats on the Sea of Tranquillity, make you come back for more like a tragic ex, and little Lolita will give you the third degree, Seymour Glass will look out o [...]

    2. I do like a lot of literature, but strangely books about books are rarely as interesting or as compelling as the books themselves. If you've ever had the misfortune of picking up a big bulky guide to the literary canon, or flipped through the introduction to a penguin classic, you've probably experienced the very dry writing style of an english scholar.So beginning to read, John Mullan's How Novels Work, I was apprehensive of delving into some of the technical and over-pretentious writing I'd as [...]

    3. It's pretty much what it says on the tin. If you want to know how the different elements that make up a novel work, why they exist and how they are utilised by authors, this is the book for you. My two problems were that, firstly, it contained too much spoilerific information about books I still intend to read (but it's possible to just skip those paragraphs so no harm done). This meant that large parts of the chapters were devoted to describing how some author used letters, epigraphs or quotes [...]

    4. How Novels Work is an exciting read; Mullan explains the many techniques novelists utilise to convince us of their story. I love reading novels, I know the writers I love are brilliant, but Mullan gave me the tools to know why. As well as brief notes that illuminate the history of the novel, Mullan uses classics like Dickens and contemporary standouts like Franzen to explicate the numerous overlapping considerations and choices writers make at every turn. He celebrates their successes, he's disa [...]

    5. Should perhaps be subtitled "And how how Criticism fails".Rather than explain how novels work this explains how novels that few people read work, eschewing the idea of showing how popular novels and those that the vast majority of readers will be familiar with this concentrates almost entirely on 18th/19th century fiction that is now read mostly by scholars, or on the sort of critically acclaimed novels that most people give up unfinished long before the end. By concentrating almost entirely (th [...]

    6. I haven't read Lodge's Art of Fiction nor similar books, so no space for compariaon here. The book was useful in terms of updating my fiction-related terminology (hetroglossia, skaz,), and opening my eyes to subtle novelistic techniques (free indirect speech, false ending).The author divided the book into main chapters, each chapter into titles. Each title was elaborated in an average of three pages. There were definitons, examples from celebrated novels and little criticism here and there. Some [...]

    7. Mullan's book examines these aspects of novels: beginning, narrating, people, genre, voices, structure, detail, style, devices, literariness, and ending. The book feels overlong because he concentrates too much on a large handful of contemporary works (which had little interest for me) like The Hours and Possession. I couldn't figure out how a guy who writes a book column for The Guardian in every instance misspelled Bret Easton Ellis. Once I noticed that, other little errors began to nag me, su [...]

    8. Yeah, pretty good: eminently sensible rather than crazily inspired. Similar to David Lodge's excellent Art of Fiction, with more up-to-date titles, several of which I'll probably now seek out. A couple of gripes though. Firstly, there are some howling spoilers of Keyser Soze/Darth Vader proportions which come totally unannounced - given the range of contemporary titles, it's hard not to get caught out - couldn't Mullan have slapped a warning on some sections? Secondly, this book has come out of [...]

    9. Useful, ground-level reading of how the novel works for the general reader with no special training in how to read fiction. Although, at first blush, it may sound condescending it isn't. How the Novel Works is filled with useful advice for the neophyte reader who wishes to speak coherently about books they've been moved by. Recommended Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

    10. Mullan uses examples from only a handful of novels to talk about certain aspects of writing. However, he does not elaborate on or give his own explanation for any of them. This is a book filled with excerpts from novels that ends up not teaching the reader anything. Uninformative and a waste of time.

    11. This is a solid little book which plods its way, very readably, through various elements of novels, using a good range of examples from a variety of writers. Useful, if not scintillating, it's a good overview, with no revelations but some good explanations.

    12. I read this book for uni, and I had only three days to finish it. So I read as quickly as possible, but I still saw that this book is a really good introduction to many aspects of novels and their writing. This book is hardly an in-depth look at narratology, but it explains the concepts in a simple manner, with many well-explained examples taken from both classic and popular literature. I especially liked Mullan's coinage of the insufficient narrator in contrast to the unreliable one.

    13. A Knock-Off of Novelistic TechniquesMullan, John (2006) How Novels Work. New York: Oxford University Press.Mullan has collected from The Guardian, a set of his columns about technical aspects the modern novel. The original essays, he says, were often designed to address books that were known to be widely read by book groups, so that he might develop a niche readership there and enhance people’s book group experience.The essays cover the expected material, narration, character development, styl [...]

    14. The author writes in an entertaining style as he explains the various components which make up novels with copious examples from fiction ancient and modern. It is the literary equivalent of a Haynes car manual for layman. For those people who felt that deconstructing a novel for months on end when they were at school destroyed the pleasure in reading, this book demonstrates how understanding the nuts and bolt of fiction can increase enjoyment.‘How Novels Work’ covers such subjects as people, [...]

    15. This is an excellent book. It gives a fantastic overview of the elements of novels (indicated in comments below) and also of how novels have evolved to the present. But it may not be for everybody. Comments from readers below say that he discusses only a handful of books: Totally untrue; or that he discusses books that nobody reads: from the truly great Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Henry Fielding, William Faulkner, F. Ssott Fitzgerald, Joseph Contrad, Italo Calvino, Ian Fleming (yes, we're tal [...]

    16. This is a very thorough, informative and in many ways useful book about many of the elements writers of novels have considered over the past 200-250 years, and how some of these have developed and are used by writers of today. It isn't as succint, or as personal/idiosyncratic as similar books by David Lodge or James Wood, and it also takes a great deal more patience to get through. Yet, I enjoyed it because I generally just love reading books about books, and I was pleased that I'd read many of [...]

    17. Whether you are already and an author, aspire to write books, or just enjoy reading them I would recommend this book to everyone. I would defy you to read this and not think about novels in another way. The market is saturated with how to write books, but most are not actually very use. The best, are the one's which are inspirational, rather than how to. When I first went to college to study writing I took with me John Fairfax's and John Moat's The Way To Write (a brilliantly original book that [...]

    18. I really wanted to like this book. I love books that describe the style and structure of various writing genres. The author set out with the monumental task of explaining "the novel". And don't get me wrong, the author's knowledge of different novels in different genres is staggering; but, with that being said, the author could not seem to stay on one topic for more than a paragraph or so. There is really no deep analysis. It reads more like a quick overview of an idea, cross-referenced with an [...]

    19. A very useful overview, clearly written and with repeated reference to examples. Mullan covers a wide range of topics and discusses them in plain language. His explanations are sufficiently detailed that it isn't necessary to have read all the books he draws from.The one fault of this book is the necessary evil of its comprehensiveness: it fails to cover many topics in satisfying depth. On the other hand, if it did, only weightlifters would be able to read it.

    20. Looks between the covers of novels, from the concrete (titles, table of contents, paragraphs), the functional (story, plot, narrative) to the abstract (style, voice, tone). Most of the novels referenced come from the British "mainstream" canon; genre novels are briefly mentioned. There is some academic jargon ("cratylic" is my favourite new word) but most of the text is generally accessible. The book provides tools for enthusiastic lay readers to analyse or discuss novels in a casual setting.

    21. Interesting book, that really lives up to its title of demonstrating the techniques authors use to make meaning, and achieve specific effects. At times I felt Mullan was relying on the same books a little too often for his examples (Ripley, The Hours and Mrs Dalloway spring to mind), but nevertheless, a very engaging and enjoyable book that deconstructs the art of writing fiction.

    22. Appropriately enough, a good read! I enjoyed this look at novels via literary theory. It's fairly light, and definitely easy to read, but covers a great range of topics, and presents some interesting ideas. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of subjects such as paragraphing, that affect a reader's experience (and matter to a writer!) but aren't usually considered by academics or critics.

    23. I found it dry, stiff, a bit stuck-up but definitely informative. As such, I was unable to finish it. I just couldn’t bear to stick with it to the end. My mind often wandered while reading and the smallest distraction was often enough for me to stop reading and go off on a tangent.

    24. Good, but a little light, and its origins as a series of newspaper columns becomes more apparent further into the book. I appreciate what the author seems to be trying to do. I can also see returning to this book as a sort of refresher on some common novelistic tactics.

    25. Paused on 220. Will return to it in a while when I have digested your critical commentary of various works, their language, their style and form, and all that makes one work stand apart from its peers and predecessors.

    26. Practical criticism for a mass audience. John Mullan examines the nuts and bolts of novelistic technique - plot, genre, structure, style, etc. - shining a bright light on devices that are so familiar that they are almost invisible. A useful and accessible guide.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *