January 2011 Indie Next List
“I love the way that Roger Rosenblatt can squeeze so much meaning into so few words. This is a collection of ideas, discussions, and exercises that he has shared with his writing students. One of my favorites is 'in fiction you treat facts differently. You dream into them and make them works of art.' That line has lived vividly in my imagination since I read it. This is the kind of book that will change your life with a few carefully written words. Amazing!”
— Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, CO
For more than forty years, distinguished author Roger Rosenblatt has also been a teacher of writing, guiding students with the same intelligence and generosity he brings to the page, answering the difficult questions about what makes a story good, an essay shapely, a novel successful, and the most profound and essential question of them allwhy write?
Unless It Moves the Human Heart details one semester in Rosenblatt's "Writing Everything" class. In a series of funny, intimate conversations, a diverse group of studentsfrom Inur, a young woman whose family is from Pakistan, to Sven, an exfighter pilotgrapples with the questions and subjects most important to narrative craft. Delving into their varied lives, Rosenblatt brings readers closer to them, emotionally investing us in their failures and triumphs.
More than a how-to for writers and aspiring writers, more than a memoir of teaching, Unless It Moves the Human Heart is a deeply felt and impassioned plea for the necessity of writing in our lives. As Rosenblatt wisely reminds us, "Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue."
About the Author
Roger Rosenblatt's essays for Time and The NewsHour on PBS have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and the Emmy. He is the author of six off- Broadway plays and seventeen books, including New York Times Notable Books Kayak Morning and The Boy Detective, as well as other national bestsellers Unless It Moves the Human Heart, Making Toast, Rules for Aging, and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing at Harvard, and is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University. He lives in Quogue, New York.
“Less a how-to book than a measured reflection on teaching, [Unless It Moves the Human Heart] nonetheless offers aspiring writers many concrete suggestions...And the oft-invoked words of other authors should resonate with readers and writers alike.”
“With this slim volume, Rosenblatt offers his take on the challenges and responsibilities facing would-be writers...The informal and succinct format makes [Unless It Moves the Human Heart] a fast read but not a simple one...an artful take on the writing life.”
“Roger Rosenblatt is the teacher you always wished you had... Adept and inventive, Rosenblatt encourages his students to write with moderation but think with grandiosity…Having skillfully addressed matters of style, he ends by eloquently approaching the spirit.”
“Unless It Moves the Human Heart is right up there with Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones,” although less Zen, and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” although less confessional... The book is filled with humor and practical advice…”
“There is much to love and ponder within these passionate pages.”