The Destiny Thief
A master of the novel, short story, and memoir, the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Everybody's Fool now gives us his very first collection of personal essays, ranging throughout writing and reading and living. In these nine essays, Richard Russo provides insight into his life as a writer, teacher, friend, and reader. From a commencement speech he gave at Colby College, to the story of how an oddly placed toilet made him reevaluate the purpose of humor in art and life, to a comprehensive analysis of Mark Twain's value, to his harrowing journey accompanying a dear friend as she pursued gender-reassignment surgery, The Destiny Thief reflects the broad interests and experiences of one of America's most beloved authors. Warm, funny, wise, and poignant, the essays included here traverse Russo's writing life, expanding our understanding of who he is and how his singular, incredibly generous mind works. An utter joy to read, they give deep insight into the creative process from the prospective of one of our greatest writers.

The Destiny Thief Details

TitleThe Destiny Thief
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 8th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing
Rating
GenreWriting, Essays, Nonfiction, Language, Autobiography, Memoir

The Destiny Thief Review

  • Diane Barnes
    January 1, 1970
    Richard Russo is one of my favorite fiction writers, and these essays give his readers a tiny glimpse of his life and philosophy and approach to his writing. I enjoyed all of them, and, of course, his trademark humor shines through. Recommended to anyone who is a fan.
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  • Glady
    January 1, 1970
    Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo offers his take on writing, life, opportunity, and family in The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life. I recently saw Russo at "Writers in the Loft," a program run through the Portsmouth Music Hall. The small and intimate area of the Loft made it appear that Russo was speaking to each audience member individually rather than a large, shadowy group. This intimacy really fit in with Russo's reading and question/answer session. He was at tim Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo offers his take on writing, life, opportunity, and family in The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life. I recently saw Russo at "Writers in the Loft," a program run through the Portsmouth Music Hall. The small and intimate area of the Loft made it appear that Russo was speaking to each audience member individually rather than a large, shadowy group. This intimacy really fit in with Russo's reading and question/answer session. He was at times humorous, at times contemplative.Russo's essays explore the absolute hard work required to really be a writer, successful or not. He frequently cites the "ten thousand hour" rule; in other words, one must practice, practice, practice. Here he reviews the pros and cons of formal writing programs. Russo studied in Arizona and has taught at several programs across the country. He believes the strength of such programs involves the intense scrutiny of one's writing as well as the writing of peers. In other words, one can learn from others' mistakes. But, talent is only one element that is required to be successful. Luck, support, and persistence are all required. And, today's up-and-coming authors have far less support from traditional sources like publishing houses. He is somewhat critical of the concept of self-publishing, mainly because he perceives that the business of being a writer/publisher interferes with the focus of being a writer. Despite this criticism he feels very fortunate that his success came at a time prior to the e-book revolution.Russo provides examples from his own life to prove his points. Sometimes he is his harshest critic as in "Imagining Jenny." A close friend confides in Russo about his intended transition surgery and Russo's reaction is initially rather selfish. But, this turmoil allows Russo to dive into the concepts of friendship and personal truth. The Destiny Thief is surprisingly entertaining while it reinforces the necessity of having literature in our lives.
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  • Alan Kercinik
    January 1, 1970
    It has been some time since I've read Russo. My reading habits fall toward binging, in that I'll discover a writer and then devour much of his or her work in fairly short order. When I'd discovered Russo, some years ago, he'd had Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, Empire Falls and Mohawk under his belt. This slim volume, a collection of essays over a fairly long span of his career, none of which I'd ever read before, reminded me what a generous and sharp writer he is, but also what an eye he has about It has been some time since I've read Russo. My reading habits fall toward binging, in that I'll discover a writer and then devour much of his or her work in fairly short order. When I'd discovered Russo, some years ago, he'd had Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, Empire Falls and Mohawk under his belt. This slim volume, a collection of essays over a fairly long span of his career, none of which I'd ever read before, reminded me what a generous and sharp writer he is, but also what an eye he has about both human hearts and behaviors. This is especially evident in Imagining Jenny, in which he recounts his own heart and behaviors surrounding gender reassignment surgery of one of his closest friends.The other big takeaway, for me, is what a student of writing he is. This should come as no great shock. Russo taught fiction for a good part of his career. (He even made a book out of it -- Straight Man -- which is one of the funniest novels I've ever read, one that made my sides quite literally hurt from laughter. The only other book that ever had that effect on me was Confederacy of Dunces.) But he has spent considerable time with Dickens and Twain and, reading him again, of course they are influences. His writing has that quality, even when he is not speaking of writers who he has loved and learned from, of a man trying his best to teach some lesson that he has learned, hard-learned or otherwise.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    "Most writers had about a thousand pages of shitty prose in them, he went on, and these have to be expelled before they can hope to write seriously" (3-4)."Explanations, in the final analysis, never satisfy us completely. They only reassure us, and that's a lesser achievement" (29)."As you may know, requests for exhumation are seldom granted" (25)."How do you learn not to care about something that matters? Because good teaching does matter. I intended to quit the classroom as soon as I could aff "Most writers had about a thousand pages of shitty prose in them, he went on, and these have to be expelled before they can hope to write seriously" (3-4)."Explanations, in the final analysis, never satisfy us completely. They only reassure us, and that's a lesser achievement" (29)."As you may know, requests for exhumation are seldom granted" (25)."How do you learn not to care about something that matters? Because good teaching does matter. I intended to quit the classroom as soon as I could afford to, but until then I approached my job as my grandfather did his imperfect skins. Each student, many of them first generation, was a puzzle worth pondering. Speed, carelessness and inattention were the enemy. If some of my colleagues were contemptuous of their students' abilities and doing slipshod work themselves, what did that have to do with me? Not a blessed thing" (77)."The word 'no' is the message no artist or craftsman wants to hear: 'You're not good enough yet,' which the little voice in you head, the one that lives to fuck with you, immediately explicates as: 'You're not good enough and you never will be'" (91)."Don't worry too much about the world they'll be born into, which will suck, because that's what the world mostly does" (113). *On having children.*Interesting info about the writing of Nobody's Fool in his essay on omniscience."'...mote-magnifying tyrant'" (186). *He's quoting Twain here. I love it.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    Years have passed since I read and loved Russo's work, but I admire him even more after devouring this collection. (I will likely reread parts of it; it's that good.) The essays explore the writer's experiences creating and connecting; at their heart, they examine language, and the ways we use it to move one another. "Getting Good" is superior, with "The Gravestone and the Commode" a close second.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    I love Richard Russo and will read anything he writes. That said, he’s at his best when he’s writing fiction. I would given this 4 stars except there were a few essays that dragged for me (a disappointment) though the others I truly enjoyed. Last year I read (and really enjoyed) his collection of short stories (Trajectory); I hope that there is another novel in the works.
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  • Alice
    January 1, 1970
    Although I love RIchard Russo's fiction, I did not particularly enjoy these essays. A few were memorable -- such as the one about his friend Jenny Boylan -- but others -- such as about Mark Twain -- didn't interest me at all. Probably more about the writing process than I wanted to read. As always, Russo's writing is fine. I guess I will just return to his fiction, which is always first-rate.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    As the title suggests this is a book essays written by Richard Russo on the topices of writing and his life. I don't care much for reading about people's thoughts on writing, so I didn't care much for those essays. I generally enjoyed the ones he just wrote about his life in general though.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished the audiobook, and was so sorry that it was over that I listened to Russo read the copyright information. For me, a new book from Russo is like a long conversation with an old friend, who is much more funny and smart than I could ever hope to be.
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  • Beau
    January 1, 1970
    #richardrusso
  • Sigrun Hodne
    January 1, 1970
    I must admit, I much prefer his novels.
  • Virginia Albanese
    January 1, 1970
    Some of the essays bit too esoteric for me. Interesting his take and admiration for Dickens and Twain.
  • Cara
    January 1, 1970
    to read
  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    Literary Hub's "Best Reviewed Books of the Week," May 18, 2018
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