Book Review: Spark – How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (DNF)
March 8, 2011 13 Comments
This book is subtitled Inside the Minds of America’s Greatest Writers, Filmmakers, Musicians & Artists.
I expected to enjoy reading this book a lot, so I asked for an ARC from the publishers, Harper. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite to my taste and after 3 or 4 weeks of dipping in and out of the book, I’m giving up. Although I may read the last section still, that looks interesting.
Spark: What it is about
Studio 360 is a radio program from Public Radio International that ran from 2000 to 2009, and was “public radio’s premier guide to contemporary culture”. A large number of creative people were interviewed by Kurt Andersen, such as novelists, poets, playwrights, photographers, singers, etc.
Julie Burstein was the producer of the program and in short chapters, she describes the way 35 of these interviewees came to be creative, i.e., where did (do) they find their inspiration. These are not actual interviews, but third-person extracts from the interviews (and possibly also other information about the interviewees that Burstein has gathered).
The book is divided into sections, each with their own theme as a source of creativity, such as nature, childhood, adversity, parents, creative partners, etc. Within each of these sections, the stories of a number of individuals is given (each in their own short chapter).
Spark: What I thought
For some people, this may be a really interesting book. If you know many of the people mentioned, and you are interested in them, it will be heaven. For me, I knew just 5 or 6 (of the 35). While this did not really matter, and while I bravely googled pictures from the photographer and poems from the poet in the first section, after a while I got bored with the stories.
I missed a picture of the people themselves and something that alluded to the work they were doing, a picture or some text. In other words, the featured people were all faceless and their work anonymous, except for the few that I’d heard of (e.g., Kevin Bacon, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Robert Plant).
The, in my eyes, distant way Burstein wrote about them didn’t help. There was no discernible spark (so to speak) in Burstein’s eye while writing about these people. The writing was a little clinical and there didn’t seem to be any emotional connection between Burstein and her protagonists (a like, a dislike, an admiration).
Altogether, the book wasn’t for me and I didn’t finish it.
Rating: 2/5 (DNF)
I got this book: free from Harper Publishers for review (ARC)
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 249
First published: 2011
Genre: non-fiction, art