Posts Tagged: nonfiction
I think that every novelist of the kind of novels that I write has in them maybe one really good book… but the trouble with so many novelists is that they keep on writing novels even when they run out of ideas.
While fiction embraces the flights of fancy that come with imagination, nonfiction is fairly hostile to writers who stray too far away from the objective facts of the story. How closely should writers of nonfiction stick to facts? At Electric Literature, Justin Lawrence Daugherty makes the case for embracing some unreality in writing nonfiction:
We can talk about truth versus fact.
Can’t wait for Sarah Manguso’s newest book, 300 Arguments? Over at Harper’s Magazine, you can read an essay excerpted from the book about brevity and aphorisms. Manguso writes:
Please don’t try to convince me that my romance with concision follows from the way we experience reality now, in interrupted and interruptive increments; or that if I like short literature I should be on Twitter; or that my taste is merely a symptom of a pathological inability to focus or commit; or that since I have a child I no longer have the time to write at length.
Gay Talese’s new book The Voyeur’s Motel has garnered some well-earned bad press after its source was discredited. But was it any good? For The New Republic, Alexandra Molotkow argues that to be worth reading, Talese would have had to offer some measure of reflection:
Journalistic ethics are less important than ethics.
I want readers to understand how racism and antiracism can exist at the same time even in a revolutionary setting.
Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution by author and professor Devyn Benson is the long-untold history of racism against Black Cubans....more
Jonah Lehrer, who admitted to plagiarism and fabrication in his 2012 book Imagine: How Creativity Works, has a new book out. It seems that once accused of plagiarism, though, those charges are hard to dodge:
According to Daniel Engber, Lehrer’s new book follows the same model, cherry-picking results and distorting their implications.
At the New York Times, Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., writes about how a national park in Montana left an indelible mark on her and her marriage:
We were both intoxicated by the place, not only by its beauty but by the feeling of remoteness that is as much psychological as geographic.
If Flaubert was ‘a man of the quill,’ then perhaps I am ‘a woman of the ear.’ My interviews aren’t interviews as such. Just talks. We just talk and my role is to listen. Listening was difficult at first because of the cognitive dissonance I experienced.
Over at The Collapsar, Brian Oliu pens a stunning essay on writing, running, and changing one’s perception of both the body and the prose:
This, to me, is what a successful essay does: it confesses before the writer is ready–instead of looking back upon a moment in one’s life and trying to compartmentalize it into a narrative, it is very fluid and of that moment–I am going to talk about these things that I am not an expert on in hopes that I come to a greater understanding about myself & the world that surrounds me.
For the Guardian, Richard Lea investigates the distinction between fiction and nonfiction writing, a distinction that exists most firmly in anglophone cultures and literature. Lea interviews several writers who work with texts in other languages, either as bilingual authors or translators, in order to find whether separating stories according to their factual content offers any benefit....more
Well, that’s the point of being alone—it’s not anything to do with you. It’s about being something in someone else’s life, and no one ever knows the difference, or the truth. That’s why people like bad movies and bad fiction, and it’s worth it, it’s worth it, it’s worth it.
Once I decided I wasn’t going to stop if I flinched, I figured I was opening myself up to some hard stuff. So, when it came, I kind of expected it. Maybe some of the beautiful moments of my life surprised me.
Maybe the loneliness of the American critic stems from his obsession with freeing minds, which quickly become isolated monads.
Things in my own life that make me want to write about them are often things that are unresolved. And I use writing to figure them out.
Memoirists Meredith Maran, Dani Shapiro, Ayelet Waldman, Kate Christensen, and Nick Flynn speak in a YouTube video about why they write about their own lives, and the best/worst things that happened to them as a result of writing a memoir....more
I was a kid. In many ways, I’m still a kid, trapped in the extended adolescence of the post-irony, post-sincerity millennial era; I came of age in America under the Bush Administration, a world where words, masquerading as truths, became tools for war.
Backlist is a new service meant to connect readers and students to curated lists of history books put together by scholars. The site’s founders solicit book lists and recommendations from scholars and historians, with a goal of exposing people to books they may not have heard of otherwise:
It’s like going into the office of your favorite history professor.
Increasingly, a writer needs an access point, a micro-focus, a close-up lens—even a gimmick: one small story through which larger historical truths can be elucidated anew.
For the Los Angeles Review of Books, N.S. Morris writes about how journalism inform stories being written about the Middle East, exploring the various shapes nonfiction takes in the process of trying to understand something so expansive....more