Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher by William Zinsser

writing places

William Zinsser is best known as the author of On Writing Well, a perennial best seller in the genre of nonfiction writing.  In Writing Places, he recounts with fond memories his long tenure in the writing profession and the locales in which he has written.  He begins with a humorous essay on an office space he rented in the late 1980s, where the quickest exit was a fire pole.  He then proceeds chronologically through his career as freelance writer, college teacher, and best-selling author.

Zinsser practices his preaching – his writing is spare but beautifully descriptive, with a quiet humor that welcomes the reader in, rather than bogging them down.  As a reader myself who is prone to getting “bogged down”, I found his style refreshing – somewhat old school, but then I liked his dignified manner.  Zinsser also shows a great deal of humility and respect for his fellow writers, and in consequent editions of On Writing Well (read pages 119-153), he made valiant strides to include as many perspectives as possible.

The author also captures the changing times very well – here, he witnesses the challenges to the post-World War II publishing industry, the extremes of the 1960s and its influences on college life, and the advent of the computer age.  In all, Zinsser has had an incredibly rich literary life, and in Writing Places, it shows, wonderfully.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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