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In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction [Paperback]

by Lee Gutkind, Annie Dillard
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 17, 2004 0393326659 978-0393326659 1

A cross section of the famous and those bound to become so, this collection is a riveting experience highlighting the expanding importance of this dramatic and exciting new genre.

Creative nonfiction, also known as narrative nonfiction, liberated journalism by inviting writers to dramatize, interpret, speculate, and even re-create their subjects. Lee Gutkind collects twenty-five essays that flourished in this new turf, all originally published in the groundbreaking journal he founded, Creative Nonfiction, now in its tenth anniversary year.

Many of the writers here are crossing genres—from poetry to fiction to nonfiction. Annie Dillard provides the introduction, while Gutkind discusses the creative and ethical parameters of this new genre. The selections themselves are broad and fascinating. Lauren Slater is a therapist in the institution where she was once a patient. John Edgar Wideman reacts passionately to the unjust murder of Emmett Till. Charles Simic contemplates raucous gatherings at his Uncle Boris's apartment, while John McPhee creates a rare, personal, album quilt of his own life. Terry Tempest Williams speaks on the decline of the prairie dog, and Madison Smartt Bell invades Haiti. 

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In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction + You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Mark Bowden, of Black Hawk Down (1999) fame, writes, "I think creative nonfiction is the major literary innovation of the last half century," a claim with which Gutkind, a tireless advocate for the form, wholeheartedly agrees. So committed to the genre is writer, teacher, and editor Gutkind, he founded the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and now celebrates its phenomenal first decade by collecting 25 of its best essays. The result is an electrifying anthology that covers the creative nonfiction universe from the personal essay to nature writing, literary journalism, and science writing. Each superb piece is followed by a writer's statement, and the book itself is introduced by a master of the form, Annie Dillard, whose "Notes for Young Writers" will galvanize all readers no matter their age or writing experience. Graced with memorable essays by such diverse writers as Diane Ackerman, Phillip Lopate, John McPhee, Richard Rodriguez, Floyd Skloot, John Edgar Wideman, and Terry Tempest Williams--writers who contemplate everything from creativity to race, the birth of a child, childhood memories, brain damage, and prairie dogs--this stellar volume will stand as an exciting and defining creative nonfiction primer. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Lee Gutkind is a University of Pittsburgh writing programme professor and author of Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393326659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393326659
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lee Gutkind, recognized by Vanity Fair as "the Godfather behind creative nonfiction," is the author and editor of more than 25 books and founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish narrative nonfiction exclusively. He is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication

Gutkind has lectured to audiences around the world--from China to the Czech Republic, from Australia to Africa to Egypt. He has appeared on many national radio and televisions shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Good Morning America, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, as well as BBC World.

Gutkind is the recipient of grants and awards from many different organizations, from the National Endowment for the Arts to the National Science Foundation.

A prolific author, his most recent books include An Immense New Power to Heal: The Promise of Personalized Medicine and an anthology, At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die.

His new book, You Can't Make This Stuff Up, is described by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin, as the "essential and definitive guide to creative nonfiction . . . engaging, useful, indispensable and inspiring."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Electrifying" is Right! November 30, 2004
This anthology of selections from the landmark literary journal Creative Nonfiction delivers real-life drama in many voices. Among the authors are well-known writers Andrei Codrescu, John McPhee, Ntozake Shange, Charles Simic, Ruthann Robson, Terry Tempest Williams, Philip Lopate, Madison Smartt Bell, Richard Rodriguez -- and some the editor calls "brilliant newcomers." (I read that and said, "Yeah, right." He was right.) Each essay differs completely from the others, and each in its own way is exquisite -- both pleasurably and painfully so! No monotonous "victim narratives" here. That era was a necessary phase -- and you can identify its traces in this book -- but it's passed. There's suspense, information, humor, reportage, defiance, reflection. Read (in an essay by a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer) about a South Philadelphia meth addict who finds 1.2 million dollars in the street. What's he going to do with it? Or a lawyer undergoing grueling cancer treatments who discovers that her doctors have made a terrible miscalculation. Or a Jewish woman enduring the traditional Hebrew divorce ceremony in front of three rabbis and two "shlubs". Or visit with Joe, everybody's blowhard father-in-law supreme. Highly recommended reading for fans, writers, and would-be writers of creative nonfiction. Could be used as a text for teaching a course in contemporary creative nonfiction, just to show how far the genre can stretch, how it can move you, and in general what the genre can do. (Whether or not you like the editor, or Annie Dillard and her foreword -- is irrelevant.)
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Overlooked Genre On A New & Exciting Spin! March 17, 2006
I enjoyed this book SO much, I can't recommend it enough! Creative Nonfiction is a relatively new genre, or overlooked. But the genre has now come to the forefront, and it is DIVINE! Lee Gutkind assimilated some fantastic "creative nonfiction" authors, and the result is that of a creme brulee. (really, if you love books as much as I do, you'll understand what I mean. Some people simply assume that nonfiction books are dry, and boring. NOT. "In Fact: The Best Of Creative Nonfiction" surprised me, and basically kept me glued to the book. I finished it in one night, and for me, that is rare. But the writers that Mr. Gutkind chose for this undertaking are so perfect for this genre, and it was a highly interesting read. I can't recommend it enough! BUY IT NOW!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction is a triumphant statement about Lee Gutkind's original goals in 1993 for Creative Nonfiction, the journal. This collection of essays shows the depth explored in the journal in its first 11 years, and could also be considered a history of the genre's current incarnation.

Beginning with Annie Dillard's introduction, a collection of pearls of wisdom for young writers, In Fact takes readers on a sometimes-jolting ride through the creation and development of both the journal and the emerging genre. These essays explore the issue of exclusion from society, either because of one's personal actions ("Shunned" - Meredith Hall) the color of one's skin ("Looking at Emmett Till" - John Edgar Wideman), and the state of one's mind ("Three Spheres" - Lauren Slater, "Gray Area: Thinking with a Damaged Brain" - Floyd Skoot). The environment takes center stage in essays about endangered species and hunting ("Prayer Dogs" - Terry Tempest Williams, "Killing Wolves" - Sherry Simpson), and scientific matters are explored with a personal twist ("Adventures in Celestial Navigation" - Philip Gerard, "Chimera" - Gerald N. Callahan).

Families are typically considered the cornerstone of society, and their dynamics and histories are explored here as well ("An Album Quilt" - John McPhee, "Dinner at Uncle Boris's" - Charles Simic, "Being Brians" - Brian Doyle, "Leaving Babylon: A Walk Through the Jewish Divorce Ceremony" - Judyth Har-Even, "Joe Stopped By" - Andrei Codrescu, "In the Woods" - Leslie Rubinkowski, "Mixed-Blood Stew" - Jewell Parker Rhodes, "Why I Ride" - Jana Richman, "Delivering Lily" - Phillip Lopate).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT TEXTS... GREAT CHOICES... GREAT BOOK!!! August 17, 2006
This book is one of best compilation titles I ever found.

Perfect if you want to read some of the best nonfiction pieces around.

The subjects multiply of these 25 great essays... from wolves and hunters... to a woman with deseases... to a man fascinated with people named like him... to a guy who remembers his uncle's strange apartment meetings... and so on...

All of those texts are written with a unique style and a rare passion who raised my interest everytime I took the book and started to read.

In fact, while some of the essays here didn't have a subjecto who'd speak to me on a personal level, the thing is... they are all so well written that I just kept on reading. And I did found more to this genre than I used to see.

I recomend this book to writers, readers and just anybody in for a great reading ride.

Mr. Gutkind did a marvelous job collecting theses texts. That must be said.

The introduction (notes for young writers) is also an awesome way to introduce the wonders of this genre.

Highly recomended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I was at UNI at the time, studying literature
Gutkind shares his experience and knowledge,. He speaks with flair and skill.when revealing his involvement in researching his assorted subjects.
Published 1 month ago by Valma M Duff
5.0 out of 5 stars Love
I love the book. Needed it for school, so I turned to amazon. Great book, will definitely recommend this to others.
Published 7 months ago by FL
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Delivery
This was exactly what I needed. The product was great and was delivered fast. Thank you for delivering this on time and in perfect condition. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J Schlientz
5.0 out of 5 stars Came as written
The book doesn't have any markings in it, has little sign of wearing (just a few small creases), and came before the expected date.
Published 9 months ago by Chloe Spainhower
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tales of humanity
It was a pleasure reading this for my summer assignment. I was able to see into the lives of so many people and into struggles I couldn't have imagined before.
Published 9 months ago by Ursula
4.0 out of 5 stars Creative
Creative writing is generally considered with fiction-this book takes a turn with non-fiction, that is creatively writing of the actual fact. Enjoyable essays.
Published 9 months ago by John S.
5.0 out of 5 stars On time read.
Nice book. I cant wait to get to the beach and finish it. The stories are real, so effortlessly intriguing.
Published 12 months ago by Sundra
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written. And creative. Of course.
Not quite as good as last summer's Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, but In Fact was nevertheless a good read. Read more
Published on November 23, 2011 by Debnance at Readerbuzz
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Satisfied!
I didn't expect this book to look brand new because I got it "used" the package took a 2 weeks to get to me and thats why I gave it 4 stars. But overall loved it once I got it.
Published on September 16, 2011 by lldaz909
2.0 out of 5 stars Just the facts, Maam!
In Fact is a so-so anthology. Some of the essays such as "Looking for Emmett Till" or "Shunned" are lucid and insightful and opens a new but painfully familiar territory --... Read more
Published on November 20, 2010
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