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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shaping with your words

“Writing's funny, it's like walking down a hall in the dark looking for the light switch, and suddenly you find it, flip it on, and then you discover the hallway you passed through is papered with the novel you've written.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us, Foer says.  Currently a professor in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at NYU, Foer was just breaking onto the market when he wrote his critically acclaimed novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close about a young boy dealing with the death of his father on 9/11.

The book was subsequently made into a movie, nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor categories. While it starred Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow ( he Best Supporting Actor nominee), it was Tom Horn as the 9-year-old protagonist who received most of the acclaim for his heart-wrenching interpretation of the words that Foer had written.

Foer says he likens to approach writing like a sculptor.  “There are two kinds of sculptures,” he said. “There's the kind that subtracts: Michelangelo starts with a block of marble and chips away. And then there is the kind that adds, building with clay, piling it on. The way I write novels is to keep piling on and piling on and piling on.”

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