Book Review: The Writer Exposed, Lee Kofman

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Lee Kofman is a Russian-born Israeli-Australian writer who grew up in a communist dictatorship, where reading was her refuge. Now a renowned author, poet and mentor, Kofman shares where his inspiration comes from, what it nourishes and how it develops in The Writer Exposed.

Kofman’s multi-layered memoirs/textbooks are fascinating reading; full of truth, experience and practical advice. This is not a generic guide to word spurting, but a carefully constructed collection of writing tips and literary wisdom. The Writer Exposed draws figurative maps around the obstacles of writing, highlighting pathways to overcoming creative, emotional, and practical obstacles, with an admirable emphasis on honesty, bravery, and contemplation.

From the nervousness of new work to the paralysis of the first draft, Kofman illuminates potential pathways for fellow writers, even those who are full-time workers/parents/procrastinators. Her practical writing tips include calibrating minds through the act of writing, the psychological benefits of doing so, and the importance of knowing your drink of choice.

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The Writer Exposed vibrates with originality, humor and insight. Each page contains more than its fair share of value, fusing Kofman’s unique perspective with the wisdom of a wide range of literary greats. Kofman’s list of influences includes a healthy dose of philosophical writers, which is not surprising given the phenomenological nuances of the author’s approach and orientation. Untangling the passion of the diary and the discipline of the proverbial muse, Kofman pays the utmost attention to aesthetic form in the context of writing.

Honesty is a major theme of The writer laid bare, in which Kofman expands on his own experiences to warn writers not to return to safe or prefabricated topics. An entire chapter is devoted to the collision of creativity with parenthood – a conventionally under-considered (and over-experienced) topic. Using his own trial and error as creative models, Kofman steers writers away from mainstream motivation in order to draw inspiration from intrinsically more authentic sources of urgency, shame, and need. Confusing illumination with writing, Kofman presents writing as a necessary act; a statement that will resonate with many of its readers.

The Writer Exposed worth savoring for the flow of Kofman’s prose; each word has its own weight in meaning. Particular attention is given to the usual suspects (character, setting, dialogue, voice) in addition to more abstract literary elements like emotion, specificity and authenticity. The most imaginable of a typical compilation of “show-don’t-tell, avoid all adverbs” writing sins, Kofman’s astonishing book is distinctly personal and yet universal – an exploration of writing as as profession, vocation and career.

Carefully linked with Kofman’s four writing principles (no spoilers here!) The Writer Exposed might be this generation’s most honest, clever, and engaging treatment of writing as an art form. The untapped powers of gambling, procrastination, and self-imposed deadlines are revealed by Kofman in a way that will make even the most seasoned writer wish Kofman was their personal writing mentor. So they will remember that – with The Writer Exposed on their shelf – it already is.

The Writer Exposed by Lee Kofman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781920727550
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352 pages
Release date: March 30, 2022
MSRP: $32.99

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