Review: Because You Asked: A Book of Answers on the Art and Craft of Writing edited by Katrina Roberts

Like a lot of people, when I was young, I was always on the look out for a book that would explain what it meant to be a writer or how to be a writer. Of course as an adult, I know that's absurd,that there is no such book or answer, but the book Because You Asked I think answers this need as well if not better than any other book I've come across.

It consists of the comments, thoughts and observations of dozens of writers - Sherman Alexie, Lydia Davis, Mark Doty, Donald Hall, Joy Harjo, Mat Johnson, Barry Lopez, Naomi Shihab Nye, Richard Wilbur, and Terry Tempest Williams to name just a few. Roberts has been curating a reading series at Whitman College in Washington. If this is a selection, it's been an impressive run of visiting writers over the years.

The book features comments and observations, some long some short, some philosophical some funny, some contradictory - as you'd expect when the thoughts of more than one writer are assembled. The result though manages to be thoughtful and engaging. If I was a teenager and looking for a resource, some combination of instruction and inspiration, this is an ideal book.

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