You would think a guide through the ethical thicket that awaits creative nonfiction writers would have clearer answers. But writer and editor Gutkind seems positively Swiss in his neutrality on the simmering issues that flared into open warfare during the James Frey debacle. “Listen, I can’t answer all these questions with rules and regulations,” he tells a college audience in an anecdote from the introduction. “I am not the creative nonfiction police!” Rather than indulging in what he calls “sanctimonious pronouncements about Truth in Art,” Gutkind and his essayists offer a sort of literary realpolitik, providing thoughtful but studiously noncommittal glosses on “checkbook journalism” (paying subjects for information), compression (combining multiple events and/or quotes for the sake of narrative flow), and using family members as characters (tempting but potentially fatal to household harmony). It’s fine as far as it goes, but you sympathize with the woman who stood up after Gutkind’s college declaration and said, “Someone has to be. And you are under arrest.” --Kevin Nance
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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.