David Lodge states in his introduction, "This is a book for people who prefer to take their Lit. Crit. in small doses," and this, indeed, is an accurate categorization for Lodge's, The Art of Fiction. This is a collection of articles on various topics of writing that he wrote during a stint with the Washington Post. While more experienced writers may find his fifty topics of writing, ranging from quite literally "Beginning[s]" to "Ending[s]" and some "Metafiction" or "Sense of Place" in between, somewhat elementary in their discussion, a beginning writer may find his book more useful.
Lodge is a fan of the classics. This is apparent in his choice to begin each chapter with an excerpt from authors such as Henry James, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, though more contemporary authors like Martin Amis and Anthony Burgess are slipped in every so often. And arguably, it was a wise choice of Lodge's to use classics as his examples if the beginning writer is his target audience so as to transmit a sense of what is conventional before launching off into magic realism. But be forewarned-Lodge terms his topics "doses" in the introduction as though implying his discussion will provide some sort of cure to the ailing writer-when, in fact, we all know the writing process does not have solutions or cures that suddenly make it easy to sit down and type away for two hours. Roughly three to four pages are devoted to each topic which give the book, as a whole, the feel of "Learning to Write in Twenty-Four Hours." In Lodge's defense, however, he does provide a quick, concise discussion that will serve as both a quick introduction to the beginner and a quick refresher to the more advanced writer.
"Skaz is a rather appealing Russian word used to designate a type of first person narration that has the characteristics of the spoken rather than the written word. In this kind of novel or story, the narrator is a character who refers to himself (or herself) as "I," and addresses the reader as "you." This is the first paragraph after an excerpt from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, and quintessential of Lodge's process throughout the book. He defines the topic to his reader straight and immediately which gives the collection its quick feel. As long as the reader keeps in mind that his definitions are not the be all and end all of the writing topic at hand, this collection of definitions (with a human voice infiltrating the definition) can be useful.