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First Words

Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors

Paperback / softback, 288 pages  (also available in Electronic book text )
ISBN: 9781565122727 (1565122720)
Published by Algonquin Books

about First Words

Most kid write stories. A few of them grow up to be successful authors. Before Stephen King created Carrie, he created Jhonathan, at age nine. And before there was Rabbit Angstrom, there was Manuel Citarro, detective in John Updike's hard-boiled mystery, written at fourteen. Before Jurassic Park, there was young Michael Crichton's story about the mysteriously wounded man lying unattended in the street.

Editor Paul Mandelbaum persuaded our most popular American authors to share their childhood writings and their treasured photographs. What he's gathered is a fascinating, delightful collection of writing and early snapshots that reveal young minds at work, wrestling with early versions of ideas that were to take hold of their writings in later years. Of course, the young Madeline L'Engle would wonder about space and the meaning of eternity. Of course, Margaret Atwood would question conventional female behavior, arguing for the right to smoke cigars.

First Words is an inspiration to budding writers and enthusiastic teachers, and a revelation for readers everywhere.

This revised and condensed edition includes the following writers:

Margaret Atwood

Roy Blount, Jr.

Paul Bowles

Pat Conroy

Michael Crichton

Rita Dove

Clyde Edgerton

Gail Godwin

Allan Gurganus

Charles Johnson

Stephen King

Maxine Hong Kingston

Ursula LeGuin

Madeleine L'Engle

Jill McCorkle

Norman Mailer

Joyce Carol Oates

William Styron

Amy Tan

John Updike

Gore Vidal

Tobias Wolff

photo of Paul Mandelbaum

about Paul Mandelbaum

Paul Mandelbaum grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. A freelance journalist and writer, he has taught magazine journalism at the University of Iowa and Drake University, was an editor at Baltimore magazine and Managing Editor for Story magazine. He has published fiction in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, DoubleTake, Black Warrior Review, and Poets and Writers. He lives in Culver City, California.
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