But in the grand scheme of things, immersion journalism and other forms of narrative nonfiction, such as memoir, have done more for me as a reader than as a writer, allowing me to vicariously experience things I’d be too much of a wuss to ever even try, and to consider versions of life that generally feel out of reach.
Posts Tagged: nonfiction
The Believer has just published what is likely writer Peter Matthiessen’s last interview, conducted only a month before his death. Included: Jaws, the sticker that Kurt Vonnegut left on Matthiessen’s car, and why Matthiessen didn’t like to write about New York:
I also very rarely write about cities or urban people—especially urban people of our own region.
Besotted by over-saturated news feeds, sometimes, you may just want to read vignettes about the more precocious members of the egg family; for this, we have Sadie Stein. Three Stories about Deviled Eggs, over at the Paris Review:
Life had changed; suddenly deviled eggs were everywhere—at tapas bars, in sepia-toned Brooklyn whiskey joints.
Ideally, online longform nonfiction combines the strengths of the print world with those of the Internet, granting writers the rigorous editing and reporting resources they’d get at a magazine but freeing them from the constraints of word limits and limited audiences....more
At Salon, Dani Shapiro writes an open response to a reader who felt that Shapiro’s memoir Slow Motion wasn’t fully honest because it didn’t include all the details of her life.
In it, she explains what memoir is and isn’t, and what honesty means for the form:
When I write fiction, I make things up.
Is it true that nowadays nonfiction is more relevant than fiction?
Pankaj Mishra and Rivka Galchen answer the question and both their answers are dissimilar.
Mishra answers, “Even writers working within the old verities of stability and coherence — we cannot do without some of them — continue to produce persuasive fictions.”
Galchen observes, “Fiction and nonfiction do tend to deploy different methods for getting to the truth....more
Some years ago I attended a [Margaret Atwood] reading….She introduced the story she read by saying that it was not autobiographical. Then she read her story about a woman who weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 300 pounds. When she was done, and the Q&A started, the first question was: “Miss Atwood, how did you lose all that weight?”
The Los Angeles Review of Books has a fascinating interview with several writers, including our very own David Biespiel, about the wriggly nature of truth in writing of any genre, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir—anything....more
0) The beginning of all this, maybe. This woman who insists I could have loved anybody. We saw the Atlantic from Normandy. We saw the Pacific from San Francisco. This is not “my love is like an ocean.” We’d been through that already....more
“In truth, memory’s great betrayal, that it will not lie intact in wait for us, is lament enough to revisit in every generation. This is what I go to nonfiction for, the way we pick at the scab, poke our finger in the wound of memory’s fickle and existential transience, and the inconvenience of our desire to make things whole and right.”
At Brevity, Liz Stephens reflects on fact and nonfiction, articulating her loss of trust in John D’Agata’s narrative nonfiction, which she examines by way of a contrast to David Shields’ Reality Hunger, and none other than Cheryl Strayed’s “The Love of My Life.”...more
Roberto Bolaño’s Between Parentheses puts the author’s critical and nonfiction prowess on display. It’s a collection of essays and writing from his newspaper column (which was titled Between Parentheses), compiled after the publication of The Savage Detectives. Most of the pieces revolve around the topics of poetry and fiction....more
Every so often, I post links to a bunch of very short essays that only take a second to read but that made my day better. Hopefully, they’ll make your’s better too.
“Last night, I had a little power at my house as the darkness settled over us all. I sent out pulses into space. My students, scattered by the storm, still clutched that rapidly diminishing charge in their hands. Their phones retained some spark. They echoed back.” At Brevity, “Some Space” by Michael Martone (part of a special edition about the tornado in Tuscaloosa)....more
“The first worry writers have when they consider working with something like historical events has to do with the issue of authority: as in, where do I get off writing about that? Well, here’s the good and the bad news: where do you get off writing about anything? Where do you get off writing about someone of a different gender? A different person? Where do you get off writing about yourself, from twenty years ago?...more
“For the past nine months, ever since a certain somebody seized the White House, conservative pundits have dominated the ranks of nonfiction. …
It would be easy enough, and rather predictable, to lament this state of affairs and to find in it evidence of an anemic literary culture, a dangerously aggrieved minority, or at the very least the diabolical efficacy of bulk sales....more