Bestselling author and New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik embarks on a wildly creative inquiry into perhaps the oldest question: how do we learn a new skill?
For decades, Adam Gopnik has been one of our most beloved writers, a brilliantly perceptive critic of art, food, France, and more. But recently, he became obsessed by a fundamental matter: how did the people he was writing about learn their outlandish skill, whether it was drawing a nude or baking a sourdough loaf? In The Real Work-the term magicians use for the accumulated craft that makes for a great trick-Gopnik apprentices himself to an artist, a dancer, a boxer, and even a driving instructor (from the DMV), among others, trying his late-middle-age hand at things he assumed were beyond him. He finds that mastering a skill is a process of methodically breaking down and building up, piece by piece-and that true mastery, in any field, requires mastering other people’s minds. Exuberant and profound, The Real Work is ultimately about why we relentlessly seek to better ourselves in the first place.
PRAISE FOR ADAM GOPNIK
‘A real treat . . . Heartening proof of a life lived fully, and fully savoured’ Claire Lowdon, Times Literary Supplement
‘Gopnik has written with entrancing penetration on just about everything’ Christopher Bray, Spectator
‘Witty and wise. Gopnik is a sleek stylist, and a high-minded, big-hearted moralist into the bargain’ Peter Conrad, Observer
‘Adam Gopnik is a dazzling talent – hilarious, winning and deft’ Malcolm Gladwell