“I can think of no other experience quite like that of being 20 or so pages into a book and realizing that this is the real thing: a book that is going to offer the delicious promise of a riveting story, arresting language and characters that will haunt me for days.” – Anita Shreve
Shreve, who died from cancer on Friday at her home in New Hampshire, wrote those kinds of books herself, including the mega-bestsellers The Pilot’s Wife, Testimony and The Weight of Water, all also made into successful movies. Shreve, 71, began writing fiction in the 1960s while still a high school student, and one of her early short stories Past the Island, Drifting, was named for the prestigious O. Henry Prize.
Shreve combined her creative writing with teaching – both in high school and college – and working as a journalist in the U.S. and Africa before writing The Pilot’s Wife in 1999. That book, selected by Oprah Winfrey for her Book Club, catapulted Shreve into her successful full-time writing career, and since then her books have sold millions of copies worldwide.
Shreve authored 19 novels, and wrote them all in longhand. In a recent interview with The Writer magazine, she explained why she thought writing in longhand was the best thing an author could do. “The creative impulse, the thing that gets deep inside me, goes from the brain to the fingertips. When you’re writing by hand, even when you’re not consciously thinking about it, you’re constructing sentences in the best way possible. And I still get the thrill of the clean pad of notepaper and the pencil all sharpened.”
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