Wonderlands: Essays on the Life of Literature

Charles Baxter
Published in 2022
by Graywolf Press

In this collection of essays on the craft of writing fiction, Charles Baxter reflects on a life of writing, thinking through such topics as charisma, narrative urgency, how request moments function in a story, the nature of wonderlands in the fiction of fabulist writers, and the plausibility of dreams. As with Baxter’s other nonfiction books, Burning Down the House and The Art of Subtext, the longtime teacher and celebrated author offers his unique observations and lessons on what makes good fiction come to life in these craft and personal essays. “Many of our models for writing and for thinking about plot and plot construction go back to common questions: What does this character want? Or: What is this character afraid of?” writes Baxter in the introductory essay. “Partial truths can quickly turn into rule-of-thumb conventions and then into clichés. Literature doesn’t always work through simple desires and fears because real life doesn’t always work that way.”   


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