When I’m struggling with my own work, I’m often drawn to biographies of writers. Not only do I learn fun facts about prominent figures — Henry James suffered terribly from constipation, Kafka chewed every bite of food 32 times, Flannery O’Connor cared for a flock of around 40 peacocks, Montaigne never saw his wife with her clothes off, Balzac fortified himself with a paste made of unroasted coffee beans — I’m also reminded that there’s no single path for living a successful creative or personal life.
If you’re struggling with your writing, turn to biographies of famous authors. This is Tom Perrotta’s cure for writer’s block. He said in a New York Times “By the Book” interview.
The dark suburban tales of Nine Inches are compelling and likely to appeal even to many Americans with no special interest in the short story, a form that has notoriously become the province of the ivory tower. But taken as a collection, Nine Inches reveals a fatal flaw that undermines the skilled artistry: Perrotta’s heavy hand.