Jane Vandenburgh, the author of two highly acclaimed novels and a recent memoir, offers aspiring writers the tools to create powerful and unique novels filled not only with good writing but also dynamic storytelling.
Architecture of the Novel is an ambitious blueprint for writers, one that reveals the underlying machinery that propels a plot that is dynamic, coherent, and interesting.
Architecture of the Novel derives from the many years Vandenburgh has spent teaching the craft of fiction writing. Her method points to the elemental nature of narrative: A story consists of its events, which are told in scenes. These scenes naturally place themselves along the arc of the story in an order that provides suspense and mystery, drawing characters toward the inevitability of their fictive destinies.
Profoundly practical yet encouraging to writers at all levels, Architecture of the Novel offers the maps and mechanics to successfully guide writers toward the story that must be told.
In 1966, Rebecca Wilson's father, a Union Leader and civil rights activist, was assassinated on the street in San Francisco. Rebecca—known throughout as "Becky"—was three years old. A House with No Roof is Wilson's gripping memoir of how the murder of her father propelled her family into a life–long search for solace and understanding.
Following her father's death, Becky's mother, Barbara, desperate for closure and peace, uproots the family and moves to Bolinas, California. In this small, coastal town of hippies, artists, and "burnouts," the family continues to unravel. To cope, Barbara turns to art and hangs a banner that loudly declares, "Wilsons are Bold." But she still succumbs to her grief, neglecting her children in her wake. Becky's brother turns to drugs while her beautiful sister chooses a life on the road and becomes pregnant. As Becky fumbles and hurtles toward adulthood herself, she comes to learn the full truth of her father's death—a truth that threatens to steal her sanity and break her spirit.
Told with humor and candor—and with love and family devotion at its heart—A House with No Roof is a brave account of one daughter's struggle to survive.
"If love is details, so is storytelling, and Anne Lamott excels at it. Her way with analogy, metaphor, and evocative detail is subtle; her ability to shift from the specific to the general to the specific again, superb."—The Nation
Joe Jones is Anne Lamott's raucous novel of lives gathered around Jessie's Café, "a restaurant from another era, the sort of broken–down waterfront dive one might expect to find in Steinbeck or Saroyan." Jessie, "thin, stooped and gorgeous at seventy–nine," inherited the café years before and it has become home to a remarkable family of characters: Louise, the cook and vortex, "sexy and sweet, somewhere on the cusp between curvaceous and fat"; Joe, devoted and unfaithful; Willie, Jessie's gay grandson, ("I thought he just had good posture," said Jessie); Georgia, an empress dowager who never speaks; and a dozen others all living together in the sweet everyday. Lamott's rich and timeless themes are also here: love and loyalty, loss and recovery, staying on and staying together, the power of humor to heal and to bind.