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Truth in Nonfiction: Essays 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1587296543
ISBN-10: 1587296543
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The spirit of Montaigne is invoked more than once in these 20 essays on the thorny question of the nature of truth in nonfiction. Lazar writes, Nonfiction blends fact and artifice in an attempt to arrive at truth, or truths. This frequently includes great leaps of the imagination. In personal essays, diary excerpts, prose poems and parts of film scripts, distinguished writers grapple with the ethical dilemmas posed by memoirs, autobiographical essays and creative nonfiction. Phyllis Rose and Nancy K. Miller raise issues of privacy: the impossibility of telling one's life story without involving others. Kathryn Harrison references Magritte's account of his mother's suicide, true only in the way he imagined it, and her own conviction that she was responsible for her mother's disappearance. Confessing her anguish, Vivian Gornick revisits the minor literary scandal raised when she admitted conflating some incidents in her memoir, Fierce Attachments. She persuasively maintains that memoirs belong to the category of literature, not of journalism. While not all the essays are equally trenchant, overall they provide some valuable insights—but no conclusive ethical definitions—about what has become a controversial genre. 18 photos (May)
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Review

“At last, as engrossing and intellectually sophisticated and varied a discussion of these sticky topical issues as one could ever hope to find. What makes the book even better is that so many of these pieces are stunning essays in their own right.”—Phillip Lopate, author, Getting Personal: Selected Writings


“The issue of truth in nonfiction is a heated topic. . . . This collection is an absolutely necessary addition to the subject—and it’s absolutely necessary right now, given the amount of attention our culture pays to the subject with all those endless reviews on imposters, Oprah, and so forth.”—Lia Purpura, author, On Looking: Essays

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Iowa Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587296543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587296543
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Lazar received the first PhD in the United States in nonfiction writing, in 1989, from the University of Houston. His books include Occasional Desire (Nebraska), The Body of Brooklyn and Truth in Nonfiction (both Iowa), Essaying the Essay (Welcome Table). Powder Town (Pecan Grove), Michael Powell: Interviews and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (both Mississippi). Forthcoming are After Montaigne (University of Georgia) and Who's Afraid of Helen of Troy (Etruscan Press). In 2014-15 he curated a digital chapbook on nonfiction editing for The Conversant.org/Essay Press. Six of his essays have been "Notable Essays of the Year" according to Best American Essays, the latest in 2014. He created the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs in Nonfiction Writing at Ohio University and directed the creation of the undergraduate and M.F.A. programs in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago where he is Professor of Creative Writing. He is the founding editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika, now in its fourteenth year.


Lazar has been the recipient of an Ohio State Individual Artist's Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship for General Nonfiction.

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on May 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
Killer! Knockout!! How come no reviews??? Around twenty contributors muse on where life meets literature. Would make a fine bedside book
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