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Roy Peter Clark, one of America's most influential writing teachers, offers writing lessons we can draw from 25 great texts.
Where do writers learn their best moves? They use a technique that Roy Peter Clark calls X-ray reading, a form of reading that lets you penetrate beyond the surface of a text to see how meaning is actually being made. In The Art of X-Ray Reading, Clark invites you to don your X-ray reading glasses and join him on a guided tour through some of the most exquisite and masterful literary works of all time, from The Great Gatsby to Lolita to The Bluest Eye, and many more. Along the way, he shows you how to mine these masterpieces for invaluable writing strategies that you can add to your arsenal and apply in your own writing. Once you've experienced X-ray reading, your writing will never be the same again.
In this collection of literary case studies, Clark (How to Write Short) dispenses warm and witty advice on how to uncover hidden layers of meaning in classic and contemporary literature. Clark moves through his close readings expertly and rapidly, often beginning with his personal history; for instance, he admits that The Great Gatsby was lost on him at first, though it won him over on successive readings. Clark's enthusiasm and expertise could seduce any reader to read (or reread) a text. Clark has assembled a diverse canon, including works as ancient as The Canterbury Tales and as recent as Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. At the conclusion, he gives readers the opportunity to apply what they've learned to a series of standalone excerpts from the books he's mentioned, giving his own interpretations on the back of the page. This is an infectiously enthusiastic guide to becoming an active reader, an homage to the wealth of meaning in great literature, and a striking demonstration of how that meaning can be transmitted from author to reader across centuries and oceans.