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First Words

Most kid write stories. A few of them grow up to be successful authors. Before Stephen King created Carrie, he created Jhonathan, at age nine. And before there was Rabbit Angstrom, there was Manuel Citarro, detective in John Updike's hard-boiled mystery, written at fourteen. Before Jurassic Park, there was young Michael Crichton's story about the mysteriously wounded man lying unattended in the street. Editor Paul Mandelbaum persuaded our most popular American authors to share their childhood writings and their treasured photographs. What he's gathered is a fascinating, delightful collection of writing and early snapshots that reveal young minds at work, wrestling with early versions of ideas that were to take hold of their writings in later years. Of course, the young Madeline L'Engle would wonder about space and the meaning of eternity. Of course, Margaret Atwood would question conventional female behavior, arguing for the right to smoke cigars.First Words is an inspiration to budding writers and enthusiastic teachers, and a revelation for readers everywhere. This revised and condensed edition includes the following writers: Margaret Atwood Roy Blount, Jr. Paul Bowles Pat Conroy Michael Crichton Rita Dove Clyde Edgerton Gail Godwin Allan Gurganus Charles Johnson Stephen King Maxine Hong Kingston Ursula LeGuin Madeleine L'Engle Jill McCorkle Norman Mailer Joyce Carol Oates William Styron Amy Tan John Updike Gore Vidal Tobias Wolff
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This anthology of juvenilia from 42 of America's most promising writers is valuable chiefly for the light it sheds on the wellsprings of inspiration from which many adult literary works have emerged. Mandelbaum provides a provocative introductory essay on the value of juvenilia, with notes throughout on the connections between an author's childhood writing and his or her later works. Although the reader may not always make the same connections, and although some of the excerpts, such as Vance Bourjaily's Not To Confound My Elders and John Updike's Untitled Mystery seem overly long, the commentary is knowledgeable and the selections highly original. Also, the book features photos of these current American writers, which include best-selling authors (Louis Auchincloss, Stephen King, Michael Crichton), black authors (Charles Johnson, Gloria Naylor), as well as such prominent figures as Isaac Asimov, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Styron. For general readers.-- Marie L. Lally, Alabama Sch . of Mathematics & Science, Mobile

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