Award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox's work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as The BelieverThe New Yorker, and Harper's, these essays represent ten years of Bissell's best writing on every aspect of creation—be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices—and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter.

What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish? Bissell's exploration of these questions make for gripping, unforgettable listen.
"[Tom Bissell] writes these essays with a storyteller’s eye for detail." —New York Times Book Review

"Bissell writes astutely, smartly, and with acerbic candor." —The Boston Globe

"A highly gratifying literary experience." —Los Angeles Review of Books

"Sharply observed, lushly descriptive and often extremely funny." —Salon

"Elating." —Guernica

“Tom Bissell is at his best in this terrific collection.” —Geoff Dyer

"Every one of Bissell's pieces is like some great, transfixing documentary you stumble on while channel-surfing late at night—something you feel, in that moment, a kind of gratitude toward for redeeming your sleeplessness. Considered alongside his fiction, this new collection makes clear that Tom Bissell is one of our most interesting and ambitious writers." —John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead

"Bissell (Extra Lives) peels back the layers of what it means to create and the toll creation often takes on its practitioners.... Never pedantic or self-congratulatory, Bissell says that he never set out to write nonfiction, and perhaps it’s this backdoor approach that makes his observations on craft and the many avenues that lead to the written word all the more powerful." —Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

"A whip-smart, occasionally pugnacious collection of essays on culture from a wide-ranging critic....Bissell can tear into his subjects with a ferocity and brutal wit that recalls Dwight Macdonald...Stellar cultural writing—Bissell has the knowledge and wit to earn his provocations." —Kirkus (Starred Review)

"Bissell’s essays are brutally honest, thoughtful and entertaining to the nth degree." —Portland Book Review

"Entertaining, informative and exquisitely readable." —Shelf Awareness

"Full of beauty." —The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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