Book: Mentors, Muses, and Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives
Editor: Elizabeth Benedict
Published: 2009 (Free Press)
I got a hell of a lot of future reading list ideas and also more dream fuel for my MFA plans from this, but not as much inspiration as any of these contributing authors got from the people or books they talk about here.
It’s a great idea. I kind of doubt the editor’s assertion that she couldn’t find ANY book on authors’ inspirations on Amazon when she was doing research for this (really? NONE? IN 2009?), but I love reading what makes writers tick and where they get stuff from because I know firsthand how different the voodoo is for each person.
But these essays did start sounding the same after awhile. The best ones where when writers talked about formative experiences (apparently you can be a waiter at one writing retreat and they let you read your stuff and write and take classes while you’re there too) instead of actual people as mentors. Of course all the mentors are going to be supportive and maybe outwardly crusty and terrifying but they all have the familiar – and similar – squishy guiding light center that all good teachers share.
Not that those mentors deserve all the praise they can get. This one’s staying on the booktruck bookshelf for the afore mentioned booklist growth, mostly, but also, I did like reading it from a pure lit geek point of view. I don’t know if any genre writer or journalist or screenwriter would find much here, though, and I think that’s why the stories smooth together like they do. Anyway, I like it in maybe a more specific way than it was meant, so it’s staying.