Book Review: Magic Hours

It was really the subtitle that persuaded me to grab this book by Tom Bissell, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation. Who could pass that up?

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

In Magic Hours, award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox’s work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as The Believer, The New Yorker, and Harper’s, these essays represent ten years of Bissell’s best writing on every aspect of creation—be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices—and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter.

What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell’s exploration of these questions make for gripping, unforgettable reading.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were a few essays that I declined to finish, but for the most part they were humorous and interesting. I’m not sure how much they “provoked as much thought” and I wouldn’t call it gripping reading. The book took me better than 6 weeks to finish. LOL.

I did note down some books to read and movies to see based on things Bissell wrote though. I found his take on the publishing world hopelessly outdated in some ways and crushingly apt in others. I can’t say my world view was altered, my breadth of knowledge about mankind increased, or my craft improved by this series of essays (what I usually look for in non-fiction) but my brain was occupied happily while reading it.

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