This is a lovely book in which McEwen gathers together "poetry and art and literary history, Buddhism and contemplative practice, along with a smattering of sociology and statistics." (p.13) as well as insights from a variety of practicing artists. This is a book that can (of course) be read strait through from the introduction to the extensive bibliography at the end. However, in keeping with the spirit of the thing, it also lends itself quite well to browsing. Individual sections and anecdotes are headed in a way that makes them easy to find and intriguing--I wanted to know why 'Silence is Goldfish-blue' and what is 'The trouble with poetry.' Each chapter ends with 'tactics' which are questions, tasks, and quotes that relate to the chapter and give your own thoughts a place to begin.
One of the key elements of what librarians call "readers' advisory" is that you do not push books on people, you help them find out what books exist that might be of interest to them and match their reading preferences and then you let the reader choose their own book. I find this difficult. Some books just compel me to get everyone I possibly can to read them. This is one of those books.
"Expert or apprentice, maker of whatever kind, writer or gardener, artist or teacher: my hope is that this is a book that will be of practical use to you, and to which you will return again and again. It was written for my friends and students, which is to say, for a wide-ranging general audience, most of whom remain chronically over-worked. But it was written with the fierce conviction that despite the daily onslaught of racket and distraction, it still remains possible, even now, to turn these things around: to spin straw into gold, time into eternity, anxiety into ease and inspiration." (p.14)Christian McEwen will be leading mini-workshops on creativity at several New Hampshire bookstores in the near future: