Peter Ho Davies returned to The Center for Fiction for another deep dive into the art of revision, this time for the launch of the fifteenth volume of the Art of series. In The Art of Revision: The Last Word, Davies contributes his insights on the often discussed yet frequently misunderstood subject of revision in the writing process. He discussed the craft with author Julie Buntin (Marlena).
The Art of Revision: The Last Word
By Peter Ho Davies
Published by Graywolf Press
In The Art of Revision: The Last Word, Peter Ho Davies takes up an often discussed yet frequently misunderstood subject. He begins by addressing the invisibility of revision—even though it’s an essential part of the writing process, readers typically only see a final draft, leaving the practice shrouded in mystery. To combat this, Davies pulls examples from his novels The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes, as well as from the work of other writers, including Flannery O’Connor, Carmen Machado, and Raymond Carver, shedding light on this slippery subject.
Davies also looks beyond literature to work that has been adapted or rewritten, such as books made into films, stories rewritten by another author, and the practice of retconning in comics and film. In an affecting frame story, Davies recounts the story of a violent encounter in his youth, which he then retells over the years, culminating in a final telling at the funeral of his father. In this way, the book arrives at an exhilarating mode of thinking about revision—that it is the writer who must change, as well as the writing. The result is a book that is as useful as it is moving, one that asks writers to reflect upon themselves and their writing.
Peter Ho Davies
Peter Ho Davies
Peter Ho Davies is the author of three novels, including A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself, and two story collections. The winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award and the PEN/Malamud Prize, he teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor.
Photo Credit: Lynne Raughley
Julie Buntin’s debut novel, Marlena, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, translated into ten languages, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen outlets, including the Washington Post, NPR, and Kirkus Reviews. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and the MacDowell Colony, and her novel-in-progress won the Ellen Levine Fund for Writers Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan and is an editor-at-large at Catapult.
Photo Credit: Nina Subin