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Jack Engelhard Jack Engelhard’s classic international bestselling novel Indecent Proposal, which later became a worldwide hit movie, has been republished to meet readers’ demands. His other major works include Compulsive: A Novel, his award-winning post-Holocaust Montreal memoir Escape from Mount Moriah, plus Slot Attendant: A Novel About A Novelist. His website: Some girls are just born with chickens and cows in their souls poster
Once in a while against my better judgment, I teach a master class on writing. Writing, as we know, is not a perfect science, so there isn’t much to teach, except to practice…practice, to borrow the advice on music when someone asked Heifetz for directions to Carnegie Hall. Some say it wasn’t Heifetz, but the advice still stands.
For some reason, the best student in my class is Gilda, yes, like the movie, with Glenn Ford, in which Rita Hayworth is so sensational. In class, it’s no secret that Gilda is my favorite. She’s from Finland. I like that about her, and how she puts in double time on the American language and the craft. Practice…practice, that she does.
She is resolutely serious about writing and for the longest time, she tried fiction, for which I could never give her a good grade. I suggested she try essays – column or blog writing. She handed in an opinion piece. I said it needs work, but it’s much better, indeed, with practice, the way to go.
Why, she asked, is the narrative voice so different from the one to the other – from my novels to my columns. In the novel, then, opinions and characterizations vary from one extreme to another, and a wise novelist will let the chips fall where they may. In writing Opinion, the writer is generally restricted to a single point of view.
I explained that a novel operates in a separate universe. Different people live there. I say so best in this novel, where I say of someone, “He can write. But he is not a writer.”
There’s a world of difference between the two, but nearly impossible to explain.
As for opinion prose, no one did it better than Mike Royko, or does it better than Mark Steyn or my teammate at Arutz Sheva, Giulio Meotti.