Author: Pat Dobie

The Sample Edit

I have been lucky enough to enjoy a good (if fleeting) relationship with many of the writers who’ve asked me for a sample edit. One of those is Alex Clermont, whose work includes Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely. Alex got…

Book Review: The Finkler Question

The Finkler Question, Howard Jacobson In 2014, Howard Jacobson once again made the shortlist for the 2014 Booker Prize for his novel, J. (The prize went to Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.) I haven’t read…

Book Review: When We Were Orphans

When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro This first-person account of a man’s gradual discovery of his past opens in 1923 London and moves back and forth through time, ending with the protagonist Christopher Banks questioning his ‘great vocation’ as…

Editing versus Revision

I have just read a great post by a fellow named Martin Stewart, a dreamy-eyed Scot (two thumbs up right there) who has a great deal of common sense on the topic of revision. Note: Martin calls it ‘editing,’ but…

Book Review: The Wilding

The Wilding: A Novel. By Benjamin Percy. This novel about a three-day hunting trip is a satisfyingly complex adventure that explores the hazy terrain between consumers, predators and prey. The third person narrative rotates among several characters, primarily Justin, a…

A Note on Scheduling

Hello! If you’d like a sample edit, go ahead and send me your manuscript, along with a little information about your timeline and publishing goals (seeking agent or self publishing). The sample normally takes about a week because I’m ridiculously thorough,…

Book Review: Brooklyn

Brooklyn: A Novel, by Colm Toibin. This story of Eilis Lacey immigrating to America is related in clear prose and in a fairly distant narrative voice, which nonetheless shows great flexibility in creating the protagonist’s inner and outer world. The…

Introverts, find your restorative niche!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain Tidbits from Quiet: Open plan offices reduce productivity and impair memory. They make people sick, hostile, unmotivated and insecure. Online collaborations can be very successful,…

Book Review: Freedom

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. Accomplished, funny, but problematic: Freedom is like being in the kitchen with an endlessly entertaining friend you wish would go home. This story of the Berglund family and their friend Richard Katz opens and closes in…

Book Review: On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan. This lovely novel of five chapters tells the story of a wedding night, but moves back in time to explore the characters’ pasts and, at the end, moves forward so the reader can view…

Two writers, two covers

Two writers I like: Caroline Adderson and Jean Thompson. Could it be a coincidence that their book covers are so similar? The Humanity Project was published by Plume (an imprint of Penguin) in 2014. The Sky is Falling was published…

Conveying Historical Information

Trying something new: an analysis of how a good writer does something historical novelists need to know how to do. Here is a mini-essay on how Peter Carey conveys historical information in his novel, Parrot and Olivier in America. The…

Book Review – Little Bee

I read this novel in about two days. Part-way through I erred by looking at the author photo on the back. Then I suffered for a few pages, thinking, how can this white man possibly know what he’s talking about?…

The Best Critique Money Can’t Buy

There is nothing so precious and productive as a good writing group. Why? It gives a writer: Accountability — people are waiting to read your stuff, so you write it Support — getting published ain’t easy, but we’re in it together…

The power of chance

It’s the end of a year and time to review. First, a recipe for the Scots new year drink, Atholl Brose. One story says that in the late 1400s the Earl of Atholl filled a well on his property with…

Book Review: Ragtime

E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime. Wow. What a book. This is a page-turner (even with its unfashionably long paragraphs –some longer than a full page). We have an omniscient narrator fully in control of his material, a historical period (1910-14 or so)…

Book Review: The False Friend

Myla Goldberg, The False Friend. A compulsively readable novel about Celia Durst, a performance auditor in Chicago who returns to her small hometown 21 years after the disappearance of her childhood friend Djuna, when she starts remembering what really happened that day.…

Book Review: Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian. This novel follows a group of men in various degrees of sociopathy (my layman’s diagnosis) as they hunt Apaches through the high deserts of Mexico and the southern US, slaughtering the inhabitants and encountering the aftermath of…

Story of a Novel

Or, how NOT to write a novel. Here, to celebrate Hallowe’en, is the story of 13 drafts of my historical novel, INVENTING PARIS: 1st draft—a dog’s breakfast; the story told from four points of view. Big holes. Barely a draft.…

Book Review: Wake Up & LIVE!

Wake Up & LIVE! Dorothea Brande. The cover of this little self-help book, first published in 1936, says {A formula for success that really works!} Or, “What would you do if you knew it was impossible to fail?” The premise is…