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A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0820338507
ISBN-10: 0820338508
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Hemley constructs a vocabulary and taxonomy for the immersion genre and makes a compelling argument for why these books matter, beyond the gimmickry, and why these stories hit home.

(Dinty W. Moore author of Between Panic and Desire)

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing is indispensable. In it, Robin Hemley is very funny but serious all the while. He explains and defines and prompts and reports with great clarity, teaching and informing and urging as he entertains. The quotations and examples from accomplished writers are generous and just plain great, many of them from essays and articles and books I’ve missed, with lessons in the most unexpected places. ‘A good book is always about more than one thing,’ Robin says, and the Field Guide is a book about life as much as it’s about writing. I mean, it’s that important, whether you plan to write or not.

(Bill Roorbach author of Writing Life Stories and Contemporary Creative Nonfiction)

This ‘field guide’ is exactly that: lessons for writers wishing to practice these forms. It brings principles of ethnographic methodologies into focus for writers not schooled in introductory anthropology. It is also an entertaining survey of contemporary writing. Hemley’s categorical approach serves to highlight similarities and (sometimes subtle) differences among these forms and the practices that create them.

(Choice)

Robin Hemley has written an excellent book on immersion writing. . . . He writes with humour and passion and injects himself into the prose, thus making for a great example of what he is describing. . . . There are many writing books and sometimes it is difficult to know which, if any, are useful. This one is because it has a different focus, gives numerous fine examples and is written with verve and wit.

(Sue Bond M/C Reviews)

About the Author

Robin Hemley is a professor of English at the University of Iowa and director of the Nonfiction Writing Program. He is author or editor of eight books including "Do-Over!" and "Turning Life into Fiction" and is editor of the magazine "Defunct."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820338508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820338507
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,306,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Marlene B. Samuels on May 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robin Hemley is fantastic at making the overwhelming seem quite approachable. I've relied heavily on several of his previous books that deal with memoir writing and regularly recommended them in the writing workshops I teach. Immersion is a refreshing change to more conventional approaches to writing memoir and more fun than a linear story line. It's a means of writing material viewed from a new perspective - whether fiction, non-fiction or memoir while simultaneously enriching the writer's experiences. All make for refreshing writing and better reading!. I've considered using Hemley's techniques in my own work but until reading A Field Guide for Immersion Writing, couldn't decide how to begin. Now, I see an immersion possibility every where I turn. I've just included it in the new version of my free downloadable Marlene's Reference Bibliography for Writers that I posted on the [...] Ahh, if only it had been available for me to read sooner. Definitely worth every penny!
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Format: Paperback
Hemley, again, makes me think about what I'm actually writing and how I should write it. In this book, he invites the reader to explore the various possibilities of immersion writing. The book is split into equal parts on memoir, journalism, and travel. I used the book when I had already begun writing a memoir. My initial goal was to understand how to write the memoir well, but this book convinced me that my writing was better reserved for another genre. I wasn't scared to change into that new genre because this book showed me how to do it. It also showed me that what I was doing was already naturally more of that genre anyway. It brought me out of the self-imposed "need" of writing of a memoir when that wasn't what my writing was naturally doing.

This book would also be helpful for somebody who hasn't begun to write, but finds a deep interest in a subject and wants to know how best to write about it. The different kinds of "immersion" involved for each genre are so different that it helps to read this book to understand how far you're willing to go to learn about that subject, then write about it. The examples that Hemley includes are very helpful in really showing, not just telling, what the differences between the genres are.

I'd recommend this book to anybody beginning to write, or in the middle of writing, anything requiring a more immersive experience.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're thinking about writing nonfiction, venturing into the middle of a real story, you might be wondering what this will entail. I did a while ago, and have just learnt after reading Robin Hemley's book that I've been lost in strange and surreal world of immersion writing for the last few years. My advice is read Hemley's entertaining guide before you `immerse', because you're in for a ride.

`Immersion isn't for the faint hearted,' he warns. `Whether you're putting yourself in harms way emotionally, psychologically, or physically, it's almost a guarantee you're going to get pummeled in one way or another'. Hemley's voice is perfectly pitched to help you shoulder that pummeling, to whisper encouragement and appeal to your humour while he explains in detail, with lots of references to his and other writers' experiences, what the hell is going on.

`If you knew what was going to happen in the end, there would be no point starting', he says, and this is what I really love about the adventurous spirit of this book. From finding what your real story is to the ethical and legal considerations of writing about others, Hemley's field guide to immersion is designed to lure you from the comfort of your desk and free you up as a writer.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did find the book helpful by seeing what genre of Immersion Writing I fall into, which by the way is Immersion Journalism. Some helpful tips thoughts. My one negative comment would be I wish he had talked a little less about the books that he wrote .
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