For more than forty years, distinguished author Roger Rosenblatt has also been a teacher of writing, guiding students with the same intelligence and generosity he brings to the page, answering the difficult questions about what makes a story good, an essay shapely, a novel successful, and the most profound and essential question of them all—why write?
Unless It Moves the Human Heart details one semester in Rosenblatt's "Writing Everything" class. In a series of funny, intimate conversations, a diverse group of students—from Inur, a young woman whose family is from Pakistan, to Sven, an ex–fighter pilot—grapples with the questions and subjects most important to narrative craft. Delving into their varied lives, Rosenblatt brings readers closer to them, emotionally investing us in their failures and triumphs.
More than a how-to for writers and aspiring writers, more than a memoir of teaching, Unless It Moves the Human Heart is a deeply felt and impassioned plea for the necessity of writing in our lives. As Rosenblatt wisely reminds us, "Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue."
“Less a how-to book than a measured reflection on teaching, [Unless It Moves the Human Heart] nonetheless offers aspiring writers many concrete suggestions...And the oft-invoked words of other authors should resonate with readers and writers alike.”
“Roger Rosenblatt is the teacher you always wished you had... Adept and inventive, Rosenblatt encourages his students to write with moderation but think with grandiosity…Having skillfully addressed matters of style, he ends by eloquently approaching the spirit.”
“There is much to love and ponder within these passionate pages.”
“Unless It Moves the Human Heart is right up there with Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones,” although less Zen, and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” although less confessional... The book is filled with humor and practical advice…”
“With this slim volume, Rosenblatt offers his take on the challenges and responsibilities facing would-be writers...The informal and succinct format makes [Unless It Moves the Human Heart] a fast read but not a simple one...an artful take on the writing life.”
Multiple award-winner Roger Rosenblatt has received glowing critical acclaim for his exceptional literary works—from the hilarious novels Lapham Rising and Beet to his poignant, heartbreaking, ultimately inspiring memoir Making Toast. With Unless It Moves the Human Heart, the revered novelist, essayist, playwright, and respected writing teacher offers a guidebook for aspiring authors, a memoir, and an impassioned argument for the necessity of writing in our world. In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Rosenblatt’s Unless It Moves the Human Heart provides practical insights and advice on the craft, exquisitely presented by one of contemporary literature’s living treasures.