Letters to a Young Writer

  • by Colum McCann
  • Narrated by Colum McCann
  • 2 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin comes a lesson in how to be a writer - and so much more than that.
Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his listeners to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear.
A paean to the power of language, both by argument and by example, Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.
These 52 essays are ultimately a profound challenge to a new generation to bring truth and light to a dark world through their art.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


A well of crisp and sharp advice conveyed with perfectly ordered words.
Mr. McCann is also one of the few writers who can perfectly narrate his own works. I'll assume that if you are an audiobook listener and care about what he has to say on writing (Is that a contradiction?) you have already listened to his works. But if not, you must get Thirteen Ways of Looking.
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- Timothy Hart

A Powerful and Moving Manifesto for Young Writers

These fifty-two essays are short in length but full on passion and even if you are not are a writer or plan on becoming one, McCann's zeal for his craft is so contagious that if you are anything like me, you would find yourself inspired by how beautifully and intimately he describes it.

Aspiring young writers will also find quite a bit of advice. This ranges from the purely utilitarian and practical ("Write wherever you feel comfortable","Read Aloud,"Carry a notebook), to the more essential ("To MFA or Not to MFA", "Language and Plot", "How to get an agent"). Still, the author's goal seems to be to sustain his readers aspirations and inspirations, rather than to provide a laundry list on how to become a successful writer.

Although I am obviously not part of the book's intended audience, I still found quite a few helpful philosophical nuggets and practical advice: There are moments when you just have to rely on your instincts; In life, just like in writing, there are no manuals and sometimes rules have to be broken and last but certainly not least, don't be a dick!

As for the author's audio narration, what can I say? There's something about the expression "Just keep your arse on the chair" that sounds much better with an Irish accent. Pure perfection.

A moving, inspiring and powerful manifesto. Highly Recommended.
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- Iris Pereyra

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-04-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio