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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

'All Prose Responds To Work'

“Writing is revision.  All prose responds to work.” –Tracy Kidder

Kidder turns 74 today and I thought about him and his writing during yesterday’s Veterans Day activities and recently while working on a writing project for Research Computing at CU Boulder.  A Vietnam War veteran, Kidder is well known in both the writing and computing worlds for the work that won him the Pulitzer Prize, The Soul of a New Machine.

While that is Kidder’s prize winner, I think his book House might be even more deserving.  Kidder, who lives in Williamsburg, MA, said he hit on the idea of writing a book about the trials and tribulations of building lawyer Jonathan Souweine's Amherst home while following some local carpenters around. 
    His hundreds of hours of research and interviews with everyone from the architect to Souweine’s in-laws to the builders shows how ordinary parts of our lives can be brought into extraordinary focus through a writer’s portrayal.

"In fiction,” Kidder said, “believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. (But) It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."

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