Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Writing to Change the World"

Mary Pipher, author of the excellent Reviving Ophelia, has a new book (July 2007) Writing to Change the World, which is receiving good reviews from some folks but poor reviews from others. Says Amanda at Literary Illusions,
While I recommend Reviving Ophelia to every parent, teacher and social worker I meet, I cannot recommend Writing to Change the World to anyone. It is unfortunate that a writer that influenced a generation of therapists cannot explain to others how to write with passion.
Amanda illustrates her frustration with this paragraph:
The most disappointing moment in the book is a letter Pipher wrote to her city commissioners. The letter expressed her desire to keep a motocross course from opening next to the Spring Creek Prairie that she often walked. She admits her letter was pompous, ineffective and written in the wrong voice. Pipher contrasts her inappropriate letter with a powerful letter written by a friend, and it becomes clear just how inadequate Pipher’s letter really is. While I’m sure Pipher included these letters to show that even a published author may misunderstand his/her audience, her letter was so terrible that it led me to question all her writing advice.
So I will have to read it myself and see. I hope I do not feel as gloomy about it as Amanda does.

I first found Writing to Change yesterday in the OSU bookstore while hunting Christmas gifts for writer friends. Pipher's book looked just right for my WR 222 class which is argumentation "writing to the world" using Lunsford et al's Everything's an Argument. Pipher has a chapter on blogs, too, which is a new addition to the class - not keeping a blog, but reading and commenting on others. Check the Amazon link to see the Table of Contents and an excerpt (which apparently does not allow me to paste a sample here for you.) So, although I have not yet read it, I will read it and I will see what can be usefully shared.



Blogger Miss Marjie said...

How interesting. I'll have to read Writing to Change the World sometime. I remember reading Reviving Ophelia in high school and being fairly underwhelmed. I thought it was a bit too simple and perhaps assumptive, but being a teenager probably influenced those feelings about it. ;) I've been hoping to find some good books about writing and especially the teaching of writing to read (even though I don't really plan on becoming a teacher, I find the topic fascinating). There seem to be so many though, that I'm not sure where to start. Writing to Change the World sounds intriguing, even with those less than stellar reviews. It's always fun to see different peoples' takes on writing and what is most important in making effective arguments.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Sara Jameson said...

I'll let you know how I like it. So far it isn't much about HOW to write but more about WHY to write. It's true there are tons of books on how to write. Since you are in Corvallis, we could meet at the OSU bookstore sometime and discuss them. Though I think that the Corvallis city library, Book Bin or Borders would have a larger selection of How To books.

4:42 PM  

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