Monday, October 19, 2009

The Best Creative Nonfiction ed. Lee Gutkind

When I first saw this book up for grabs in LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, I thought long and hard before I requested it. I certainly enjoy nonfiction, and creative nonfiction sounded very interesting, but I've struggled with essay compilations in the past and worried that this might end up being the same thing. In the end, I decided to risk it and I'm very glad I did.

The Best Creative Nonfiction (3) is full of interesting experiments in writing, both through technique and through subject matter. Some pieces, like "Return to Hayneville" and "What Come's Out" are relatively simple in style but their subjects are simultaneously uncomfortable and wonderful. Other pieces, like "Life in Figures" and "Community College" are stylistically innovative while the subject matter is a bit more commonplace. I was never bored while reading and found myself in tears more that once. ("Open Letter" was absolutely heartbreaking).

More than anything else though, this book showed me that my writing interests are shared by others. I've always thought of myself as a nonfiction writer, better at reports and research papers than stories or plays, but yearned for the outlet of creative writing. Suddenly I've been shown the way to this. It has inspired me to realize that all those semi-autobiographical, barely started novels I've struggled with through my life may be able to find new life in fully autobiographical creative nonfiction. My guess is that's exactly what the editor of these volumes is hoping for.

1 comment:

  1. Bib, this sounds awesome - I too struggle with the idea of writing fiction, but wish I weren't so limited. Thanks for the tip; I'll definitely be looking out for this one!


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I'm human, so I've got some issues, but all things considered I guess I'm reasonably normal. My parents are still married. My best friends are my sisters...okay, so I'm normal for the 1850's whatever. I'm opinionated and nerdy. I'm walking the line between tweener-style pop culture love (witness my ever-burning New Kids love and inexplicable Twilight obsession) and elitist culture snob (I can't seem to get enough 19th century British Lit and historical biographies) but, after 30 years, I'm finally learning not to give a crap what anyone else thinks about me. Oh, and those are my feet in the picture. The socks were made by a friend.

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