How to Write Like Tolstoy
Richard Cohen

Random House
ISBN: 978-0-812998306


Richard Cohen

Audio interview Audio Interview With the Author

 Audio Length: 15 minutes

Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek title of this book deter you from diving deeply into every page.

From Shakespeare to Stephen King, HOW TO WRITE LIKE TOLSTOY: A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers (Random House Hardcover, on sale May 2016), takes us into the minds, techniques, concerns, tricks, flaws, and obsessions of our greatest authors.

In this lively Authorlink AUDIO interview, author Richard Cohen shares his thoughts on whether one can be taught to write, whether plagiarism is acceptable, and some personal observations about our greatest writers.

Based on a lifetime of reading, writing, teaching, and studying the keys to memorable prose, Richard Cohen has researched the published works and private utterances of our literary giants to discover the elements that made their prose memorable. This book is a unique exploration of the act and art of writing that enriches our reading of both the classics and the best modern fiction.

He has edited Madeleine Albright, Kingsley Amis, Sebastian Faulks, John Le Carré, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeffrey Archer, Mikhail Gorbachev, and now shares his expertise on writing.

Behind every great work of literature is a trove of agonizing decisions. Any avid reader has likely wondered: What made Nabokov choose the name Lolita?  How did Kerouac, who raged against revision, finally come to revise On the Road?  How did Ernest Hemingway learn to take advice from Gertrude Stein? 

Here are Gabriel García Márquez’s thoughts on how to start a novel: “In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book”; Virginia Woolf offering her definition of style: “It is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words”; and Vladimir Nabokov on the nature of fiction: “All great novels are great fairy tales.”

About the Author: Richard Cohen is the former publishing director of Hutchinson and Hodder & Stoughton and the founder of Richard Cohen Books. Works that he has edited have gone on to win the Pulitzer, Booker, and Whitbread/Costa prizes, and more than twenty have been #1 bestsellers. The author of By the Sword, an award-winning history of swordplay, and Chasing the Sun, a wide-ranging narrative account of the star that gives us life, he was for two years program director of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and for seven years a visiting professor in creative writing at the University of Kingston-upon-Thames. He has written for The New York Times and most leading London newspapers, and is currently at work on a history of historians. He lives in New York City.

Praise for How to Write Like Tolstoy:

“This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. It is filled with cogent examples and provoking statements. You will agree or quarrel with each page, and be a sharper writer and reader by the end.”

 – Hillary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies

 “A guide to writing – what makes good prose and how to create it – and a lively account of the difficult lessons that even the greatest writers have had to learn.” Publisher’s Weekly

Praise for Chasing the Sun:

“An amazing tour de force, a grand history, and an irresistable account of an around-the-world odyssey in search of an elusive moving target.” –Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

“A quite extraordinary book, which I absolutely loved. It’s a fabulously provoking history of discoveries, dreams, and delusions. I shall bask in its shimmering digressions, crazy cross-references, and dizzy overviews for many moons.”–Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder

“Remarkably comprehensive and engrossing . . . Apollo, Ra, Inti or Huitzilopochtli–all would rock with delight at Cohen’s sweeping endeavor.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A firework of a book . . . sprinkled throughout with such glittery delights.”-The Wall Street Journal

“On every single page there is something utterly fascinating.”–Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials

“[Full of] playfulness and jam-packed lyricism.”–The Boston Globe

Praise for By the Sword:

“Like swordplay itself, By the Sword is elegant, accurate, romantic, and full of brio–the definitive study, hugely readable, of man’s most deadly art.”–Simon Winchester

“In writing By the Sword, [Cohen] has shown that he is as skilled with the pen as he is with the sword.”–The New York Times

“Irresistible . . . extraordinary . . . vivid and hugely enjoyable.”The Economist

“A virtual encyclopedia on the subject of sword fighting.”-San Francisco Chronicle

“Literate, learned, and, beg pardon, razor-sharp . . . a pleasure for practitioners, and a rewarding entertainment for the armchair swashbuckler.”-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Touché! While scrupulous and informed about its subject, Richard Cohen’s book is about more than swordplay. It reads at times like an alternative social history of the West.” –Sebastian Faulks

“A fascinating story told with literary verve.” Library Journal (starred review)

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