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In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction Paperback – November 17, 2004

26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393326659 ISBN-10: 0393326659 Edition: 1st

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In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction + Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present
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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 the founder and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and a pioneer in the field of narrative nonfiction. Gutkind is also the editor of In Fact and Becoming a Doctor, the author of Almost Human, and has written books about baseball, health care, travel, and technology. A Distinguished Writer in Residence at Arizona State University, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Tempe, Arizona.

Annie Dillard is a short story writer, novelist, and poet. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and has received fellowship grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. After living for five years in the Pacific Northwest, she now lives on the East Coast with her family.


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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: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,391 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

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Heidi (professional bookseller) on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Ross on June 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paulo Leite on August 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
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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