Since 1984, Literary Arts has welcomed many of the world's most renowned authors and storytellers to its stage. In celebration of their thirty-year anniversary, Tin House Books has collected highlights from the series in a single volume.
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.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the nonprofit Literary Arts in Oregon, this collection of 10 lectures from celebrated writers reanimates the humanistic argument that, far from being a marginal cultural activity, the production of serious literary fiction is an essential task. With eloquence, humility, and humor, contributors reflect both on their own creative processes and on literature as a whole. Trickery emerges as a common theme, with Margaret Atwood characterizing novel writing as a kind of bank robbery, and Wallace Stegner adding, We re all practiced shape-shifters and ventriloquists. Even so, the subjects addressed are refreshingly diverse Atwood writes on feminism, Russell Banks on film, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Edward P. Jones on their sources of inspiration, and Ursula K. Le Guin on the moral seriousness of fantasy, to name a few. As a whole, the essays illuminate the importance of books in widening our intellectual horizons and the struggle to bring novels and their characters to life. The beautiful language these accomplished authors employ exemplifies the unteachable quality of the true tricks of craft. Serious readers should find a welcome reminder in this collection that great literature emerges from a receptive mind engaged with the unanswerable questions of human character and experience.