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Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and Percival Everett's Telephone has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Art of Subtext

Beyond Plot
Charles Baxter
The Art Of series, edited by Charles Baxter, is a new series of brief books by contemporary writers on an important craft issue. Each book investigates an aspect of the craft of fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry by discussing works by authors past and present. The books in The Art Of series are not strictly manuals, but serve readers and writers by illuminating aspects of the craft of writing that people think they already know but don't really know.   The first book in The Art Of series of books on the craft of writing, fiction writer and essayist Charles Baxter's The Art of Subtext discusses and illustrates the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed, and the secreted. As Baxter notes in one essay, "A novel is not a summary of its plot but a collection of instances, of luminous specific details that take us in the direction of the unsaid and unseen. Using an array of examples from Melville and Dostoyevsky to contemporary writers Paula Fox, Edward P. Jones, and Lorrie Moore, Baxter explains how fiction writers create those visible and invisible details, how what is displayed evokes what is not displayed.   Praise for Charles Baxter's Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction:

"What elevates this collection from the status of technical manual (which it also is, and a brilliant one at that) is Mr. Baxter's rare ability to gauge the capacities of fiction for conveying an image not only of individual existence, but of the characteristic feel of a time, a culture, a way of life."—The Washington Times

"The most pleasurable and instructive book on the craft since John Gardner's The Art of Fiction."—City Pages

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Charles Baxter inaugurates a new series on the craft of writing with the wit and intelligence he brought to his celebrated book Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

About the Author

Charles  Baxter
Credit: Keri Pickett
Charles Baxter is the author of eleven books, including most recently The Soul Thief and The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot, as well as The Feast of Love.  He teaches at the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis.
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  • “A wonderful new volume about writing that’s also about reading and the ways we make meaning in our lives.”—The Observer
  • “Baxter’s style provokes and challenges, inviting participation; this is a book to be annotated, dog-eared and brooded over long after it’s read.”—The Writer Magazine
  • “Over the course of the six chapters, Baxter takes on different tones, alternating between that of the lecturer, the instigator, the academic, and the raconteur. . . . Within the high energy and drama of his style, moreover, there are smaller moments of keen observation that come as a revelation. . . . The Art of Subtext collects a useful array of reflections not only on specific works of literature, but also on the social changes that contemporary writers must note and respond to in order to create dialogue and scenarios that continue to ring true.”—Cerise Press
  • "The Art of Subtext is . . . sprightly and smart. I learn so much from reading Baxter's critical work, I just want him to write more. More, please. More soon."—Fiona Maazel, What Writers Are Reading
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