An Amazon.com reviewer writes that Ray Bradbury’s book, Zen In the Art of Writing, “…is the best book on writing I have ever read.” Reading this review left me wondering if I felt the same way. Is Zen In the Art of Writing the best book on writing I have ever read?
Before I answer that question, let me tell you a bit more about the book.
Zen In the Art of Writing is a collection of essays taken from Bradbury’s extensive oeuvre. This is not a book about how to write - in spite of a liberal peppering of typewriter related anecdotes. This is a book about the feeling of writing. It’s a book about Bradbury’s experiences as a writer.
Bradbury’s style is accessible and friendly. He comes in close beside his reader. He speaks in low, rhythmic tones. He is a parent encouraging his child to take heart and not give up. He is an aged rebel encouraging the next generation to shake their fists at this life-giving, death-threatening, universe of ours. He is telling us writers to be brave, to trust to our own inner voice, to practice, to practice and to practice. He is reminding us that we write for love and not for recognition or money. He is telling us to boldly go and split the infinitive for world peace.
This, then, is what Bradbury’s book delivers. It is not a book on typing; it is a book about being a writer. Is it the best book on writing I have ever read? Well, no. Is it a worthwhile read for the aspiring writer? I think so.
If you want to be reminded why you write, then buy this book. If you want to learn the difference between transitive verbs and elephants, this is not the book for you.