The Real Work

On the Mystery of Mastery

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Pub Date 14 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023

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Description

Best-selling 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—his title 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 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.

About the Author: Adam Gopnik is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He has won three National Magazine Awards for essays and for criticism. The author of numerous best-selling books, including Paris to the Moon, he lives in New York City.

Best-selling 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...


Advance Praise

"A masterful speculation on the nature and art of mastery. Gopnik, a longtime critic for the New Yorker and a librettist, tells us 'the real work' is a term used by magicians to refer to the 'accumulated craft, savvy, and technical mastery that makes a great magic trick great....' To fully appreciate the real work in others means gaining some sense of how it feels for them to do it, so Gopnik apprenticed himself to masters in various fields—magic, drawing, boxing, dance, etc.—to grasp their singular attainments, strategies, and styles.... Gopnik builds his book around Seven Mysteries of Mastery, deciphering these matters with shrewd but self-effacing skill... [his] intelligence gleams on nearly every page.... Like Malcolm Gladwell, he has a gift for forging connections and making even the seemingly mundane compelling. In top form, Gopnik makes his subject intellectually and viscerally thrilling." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A masterful speculation on the nature and art of mastery. Gopnik, a longtime critic for the New Yorker and a librettist, tells us 'the real work' is a term used by magicians to refer to the...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781324090755
PRICE $30.00 (USD)
PAGES 256

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