Reviews for Daily Rituals : How Artists Work


Book News Reviews
Those pursuing creative endeavors often struggle with inspiration, procrastination, and the question of when to force the work or take a break. Many of the great names in history solved these problems by careful attention to their routines, working at rigid times of day or observing idiosyncratic rituals regarding sleep, exercise, meals, and psychoactive consumption. In this humorous volume, magazine writer Currey catalogs the often strange habits of a wide range of creative people, from traditional artist types like writers and painters to equally quirky philosophers and scientists. The bite-size vignettes, rarely more than 2 pages, offer either a momentary amusement or thoughtful considerations on how the reader can tap their own creative drive. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Booklist Reviews 2013 April #2
Writers and artists are always asked about their process, including the crucial question, "How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living?" Currey set out to amass as much information as he could find about the routines "brilliant and successful" creators adopted and followed, and the result is a zestful survey of the working habits of "some of the greatest minds of the last four hundred years." This zealous and judicious volume brims with quotes and fascinating disclosures about the vagaries of the creative life. Currey outs the habits of nearly 200 choreographers, comedians, composers, caricaturists, filmmakers, philosophers, playwrights, painters, poets, scientists, sculptors, and writers in a dizzying array that includes Benjamin Franklin, Henri Matisse, Nikola Tesla, Stephen King, Twyla Tharp, Federico Fellini, Ann Beattie, Gustav Mahler, and Toni Morrison. Here are early birds and night owls, the phenomenally rigorous and the nearly dysfunctional. George Balanchine thought things out while ironing. Maya Angelou writes sequestered in a "tiny, mean" hotel room. Marilynne Robinson confesses, "I really am incapable of discipline." Currey's compendium is elucidating and delectable. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #2
A journalist and editor debuts by converting his blog (Daily Rituals) into a book that does precisely what its titles promise. Although Currey begins with Auden, he does not end with Zola (who does not appear); instead, he offers an idiosyncratically arranged collection of snapshots--scores of them--that show us how various writers, painters, musicians, choreographers and architects go--or went--about their days. Some are unremarkable. They get up and go to work for a set number of hours at a desk every day. But many are as eccentric as you would expect--and hope. William H. Gass writes best when he's angry. Nabokov wrote in pencil on index cards and sorted them later. Schiller loved the inspirational smell of rotting apples. Some (Plath, Munro) learned to work while raising children. Some were night owls--Kafka, Proust, Samuel Johnson. B.F. Skinner--no surprise--conditioned himself to observe strict routines. Gertrude Stein and Richard Wright liked to write alfresco. Thomas Wolfe fondled himself while writing standing up. Proust and Capote wrote in bed. Some--Twain, Abbey--had little structures on the property where they could avoid distractions. Quite a few of the artists found ways to boost their energy--from the companionship of coffee to the buzz of Benzedrine. Alcohol was a reward for some at the end of the stint. And many of them found exercise a necessity. Oliver Sacks likes swimming; Dickens walked for three hours in the afternoon (myriads of these artists had walking routines); Twyla Tharp worked out for two hours every morning. The sequence is fun to follow and figure out--some are easy, some not: Martin Amis follows father Kingsley; Henry James follows brother William; Charles Schultz follows Anne Rice? The message? There is no preferred way--only the ways that work. An enjoyable book to dig into here and there. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 May #1

Succinct descriptions of artistic temperament and practice provide the material for this entertaining, if repetitive, collection. Currey catalogues well over 100 writers, thinkers, and artists, with most given roughly a page of text describing the details of their routines, often rooted in a quote from journals or interviews. The specifics and the dispositions vary wildly--while Marcel Proust would wake around four in the afternoon, smoke opium and drink coffee, and then work late into the evening with barely a bite to eat, there are as many figures, like Ernest Hemingway or Georgia O'Keeffe, who completed their work in the dawn hours and left the rest of the day for other pursuits. The rigorous lists (and staggering amounts) of chemicals ingested and the exacting workday hours are interesting, although the real treasures are to be found in the bizarre beliefs that undergird the strange practices of many artists. The included thinkers are almost without exception white Europeans and Americans and predominantly male, which limits the scope and increases the sense of monotony. There are enough moments of insight and entertainment, however, to keep this routine of routines engaging. Illustrations. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Succinct descriptions of artistic temperament and practice provide the material for this entertaining, if repetitive, collection. Currey catalogues well over 100 writers, thinkers, and artists, with most given roughly a page of text describing the details of their routines, often rooted in a quote from journals or interviews. The specifics and the dispositions vary wildly--while Marcel Proust would wake around four in the afternoon, smoke opium and drink coffee, and then work late into the evening with barely a bite to eat, there are as many figures, like Ernest Hemingway or Georgia O'Keeffe, who completed their work in the dawn hours and left the rest of the day for other pursuits. The rigorous lists (and staggering amounts) of chemicals ingested and the exacting workday hours are interesting, although the real treasures are to be found in the bizarre beliefs that undergird the strange practices of many artists. The included thinkers are almost without exception white Europeans and Americans and predominantly male, which limits the scope and increases the sense of monotony. There are enough moments of insight and entertainment, however, to keep this routine of routines engaging. Illustrations. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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