Words Made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture

By Larry Woiwode

Words Made Fresh

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Words Made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture

By Larry Woiwode

Larry Woiwode is a writer of writers—a real American hero—and his prose leads us to delight in the written word in a fresh way. Through the mediums of literary analysis, cultural reflection, and personal memory, these ten essays trace Woiwode’s work and thought on such topics as the redemptive fiction of John Gardner, the ownership of guns, the faith of William Shakespeare, and even the difference in news as reported by CNN versus Bob Dylan.

Each essay here seems a kind of heirloom, important and timeless, a real window into the soul of American culture and its literary figures. These words give us a place in which to find rest, and a clarity and depth of understanding regarding today’s trends from a man well acquainted with the wounds and gifts of this world. Woiwode offers us a collection of insightful and provocative commentaries that are certain to produce a marked upwelling of joy as we revel in his mastery of language and stimulating observations of both literature and culture. An absorbing work to read and reread.


Author:

Larry Woiwode is a Guggenheim and Lannan Fellow, recipient of the William Faulkner Foundation Award and John DosPassos Prize, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Book Critics Circle Award, and has received the Medal of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters “for distinction in the art of the short story.” His work has been featured in publications such as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Books & Culture, and The Atlantic. He is Poet Laureate of North Dakota, Writer-in-Residence at Jamestown College, and author of Words Made Fresh and Words for Readers and Writers


Endorsements:

“This is a book for writers and readers, for those uncertain and certain of God. Woiwode’s examination of literature is so masterful that one can’t help but weigh his prose hand in hand with the art he admires, and I will not be surprised if you should find his sentences richer. I’ve been a student of Woiwode’s work for thirty years and am not yet done—this stunning collection of thought and prose has made me think and dream as I haven’t in years.”
G. W. Hawkes, Professor of English, codirector of Creative Writing, Lycoming College; author, Spies in the Blue Smoke and Playing out of the Deep Woods

“Larry Woiwode is an American original. His thoughts and words serve up a rich intellectual feast, causing the reader at times to raise an eyebrow in uncertainty, at times to smile with pleasure, and always to feel rewarded.”
Philip Yancey, author, What’s So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew

“A pilgrimage of power and delight: beginning with an intellect as brilliant and widespread as a prairie nighttime sky, to a spirit as revelatory and pure as a child observing that same prairie's flowers. To read Woiwode is to learn, to know, to understand, and to be amazed by workmanship.”
John L. Moore, author, The Breaking of Ezra Riley, Take the Reins, and Bitter Roots

“Living up to the inventiveness of the book’s title, these essays are fireside chats with a well-known author on a range of subjects—literary criticism to cultural critique. The result is a valuable blend of information and assessment of culture and authors ranging from modern writers like John Updike and Reynolds Price to William Shakespeare (the subject of the culminating essay in the book, a small classic).”
Leland Ryken, Emeritus Professor of English, Wheaton College

“Woiwode’s collection of essays showcases the finest features of this great American writer: an authentic voice and point of view. Now lambent, now strident, the essays, which range from guns, Gardner, and God, to Updike and Shakespeare, evince Woiwode’s formidable critical clarity and intellectual acuity.”
Ellen Lansky, author, Golden Jeep

“Larry Woiwode is as gifted an essayist as he is a novelist, bringing something rare in today’s literary culture—intellectual engagement grounded in spirituality—to each offering in Words Made Fresh. As with his outstanding fiction, these reflections on literature and culture are not only refreshing but deeply rewarding.”
Charles Johnson, award-winning author, Middle Passage; Professor Emeritus of English, University of Washington

“An ideal essay collection is one that makes me feel as if I should sit down in a book-lined den and read at leisure. That’s what Woiwode accomplishes here as he breaks the bread and pours the wine of favorite books, authors, and challenging ideas, all of it informed by a deep respect for humans and the God who created them. Reading through this collection I couldn’t help but delight in the quality of the mind behind the vigorous prose and the unfolding transformation of my understanding.”
Albert Haley, Writer in Residence, Abilene Christian University; author, Home Ground: Stories of Two Families and the Land

“Mark me among those who admire just about everything Larry Woiwode touches with his pen. Few American writers achieve the elegance he does with nearly every sentence. Whether story or essay, the music in his prose is a joy, a wonder, a gift of grace. Words Made Fresh is as refreshing as it is insightful, and Woiwode’s critiques of Berry, of Gardner, Updike, and others are as thoughtful and precise as we would expect from a writer so greatly gifted.”
Jim Schaap, Professor of English, Dordt College

“A kaleidoscopic and fascinating commentary on literary things, much of it over my head, but now and again touching my heart.”
G. I. Williamson, Retired Minister, Orthodox Presbyterian Church; author, Westminster Confession of Faith: For Study Classes

“Great writing is greatest when its weft and warp are inseparable, when what is being said weaves so tightly into how it is said that new meanings are brought forth, and whole tapestried landscapes are suddenly apprehended. Words Made Fresh, in its omnivorous density, in its evenhandedness that reveals a lapidary perspective, in its moral engagement and in its fuerte of feeling, is great writing at its greatest.”
Lynn Stegner, Lecturer in Continuing Studies, Stanford University; author, Because a Fire Was in My Head

“This absorbing collection of essays presents Woiwode at his most insightful and most provocative. Woiwode provides astute analysis and sensitive observations, linking personal narrative with commentary on the Word and its connections with and disconnections from contemporary culture. He is not only one of our finest novelists, Woiwode also offers a strong Christian aesthetic and a cultural savvy that is penetrating and wise.”
Jill Peláez Baumgaertner, Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies, Wheaton College

“A magnificent crunch of words to their essence. Woiwode at his best. A true great American writer.”
Timothy Strong, Bookseller, The Birchbark Bookshop, Potsdam, New York

“An urgently important chance to understand the beliefs of a great American writer.”
Thomas McGuane, author, Ninety-Two in the Shade

“Larry Woiwode’s prose is so piercing and precise, so concrete and muscular, that I would read his reflections on the price of potatoes. In an era when words have become weapons or commodities, Woiwode reminds us that they can still become flesh and blood, full of grace and truth.”
Gregory Wolfe, editor, Image; author, Beauty Will Save the World

“Reading these essays brought back a wonderful year spent in Finland, much of it with Mickelsson’s Ghosts, a book I loved but hadn’t had a way to think about until now. I felt the same returning to Updike, someone I’ve taught, but not with this sort of precision and sympathy and wariness. This is what writing looks like from the inside. Woiwode and the writers he focuses on feel God’s presence like a steady pressure, all but taking the breath away. They show us what it’s like to respond to that pressure—in time, in a body, here on this earth.”
Thomas Gardner, Professor of English, Virginia Tech; author, A Door Ajar: Contemporary Writers and Emily Dickinson


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Specifications:

Category: Arts & Literature
Academic
Format: Hardcover w/ Jacket
Page Count: 192
ISBN-10: 1-4335-2740-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-2740-1
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 12.1 ounces
Published: July 31, 2011