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Overview

CREATIVE NONFICTION: A GUIDE TO FORM, CONTENT, AND STYLE, WITH READINGS is a writing guide and integrated reader that teaches forms (such as the journey, the narrative, and the profile), not just content (such as writing about family or nature). Other books tend to leave students in the dark about the processes that creative writers of nonfiction use in approaching their topics or to focus on just one kind of writing--the personal narrative. CREATIVE NONFICTION introduces students to a range of forms so they can use the techniques in many different writing situations--from first-year composition or service-learning courses to creative writing workshops, feature writing, and memoir writing.

Eileen Pollack, University of Michigan

Eileen Pollack directs one of the largest creative writing Master of Fine Arts programs in the country. She has published her fiction and nonfiction widely, most recently in BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2007 (ed. Stephen King) and IN THE MOUTH, her 2008 collection of stories and novellas.
  • CREATIVE NONFICTION uses a unique form-based approach. It is the only book that combines an emphasis on teaching nonfiction forms with a fully integrated reader containing an extensive collection of fresh, diverse readings.
  • Diverse readings are integrated into each chapter's writing instruction, allowing students to see immediately full examples of the form being discussed.
  • "Learning from Other Writers" questions and generative "Inspirations" activities help students learn to think like creative writers. Each chapter's "Inspirations" prompts act like a connected set of steps to guide students through the most challenging parts of writing an essay.
  • CREATIVE NONFICTION begins with the personal narrative form, but also gives students opportunities to expand their repertoire to include experiments, group portraits, and spatial forms, among others.
Preface for Instructors.
Preface for Students: How to Use This Book.
PART I: WHAT MAKES CREATIVE NONFICTION CREATIVE?
1: A Creative Presentation of the Truth.
2: An Engaging Voice and Style.
Language.
Exposition and Scene.
"Knoxville: Summer of 1915" by James Agee.
Inspirations: Being There.
Imagery.
Inspirations: Don''t Be So Literal.
Dialogue.
"Casa: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood," by Judith Ortiz Cofer.
Inspirations: What Did You Say?
3: An Interesting Central Question.
Finding a Focus.
Inspirations: Nine to Five.
Asking the Questions You Truly Want to Ask.
4: A Natural, Organic Form.
PART II: THE FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION.
5: Personal (and Not-So-Personal) Narratives.
Go With What You Know, Then Go Further.
Discovering Symbols.
Making the Personal Universal.
"Shooting an Elephant," by George Orwell.
Learning from Other Writers.
"A Clack of Tiny Sparks: Remembrances of a Gay Boyhood," by Bernard Cooper.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Tracks and Ties," by Andre Dubus III.
Learning from Other Writers.
"No Burden to Bear," by Marcie Hershman.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Death of a Pig," by E. B. White.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Six Days: Some Remembering," by Grace Paley.
Learning from Other Writers.
Additional Considerations: How Personal Is Too Personal?
Inspirations: Why Did I Do That?
6: Journeys, Pilgrimages, and Quests.
Why You Are Leaving Home.
The Shape of Your Journey.
"Walden," by E.B. White.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Looking for Zora," by Alice Walker.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Umbilicus," by James Alan McPherson.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Vicksburg Ghost," by Sue Hubbell.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Hitting the Road.
7: Mysteries and Investigations.
"My Favorite Teacher," by Robert Kurson.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," by Oliver Sacks.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Chromium," by Primo Levi.
Learning from Other Writers.
Additional Considerations: A Footnote on Research.
Inspirations: That''s a Mystery to Me.
8: Experiments.
"No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch," by Ann Hodgman.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Testing Bloodhounds" by Richard Feynman.
Learning from Other Writers.
"How to Get Out of a Locked Trunk," by Philip Weiss.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Nickeled-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: We Are All Mad Scientists.
9: Profiles in Action.
Your Place in The Profile.
External and Internal Worlds.
Foreword from The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger.
Varying Your Distance.
Excerpt from The Winged Seed, by Li-Young Lee.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Stunt Pilot," by Annie Dillard.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Master of Machines," by Daniel Rivas.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Evening with a Gifted Child," by Joseph Mitchell.
Learning from Other Writers.
Additional Considerations: The Art of the Interview.
Inspirations: Getting Inside Someone Else''s Head; A Day in the Life.
10: Group Portraits.
"Going to the Movies," by Susan Allen Toth.
Learning from Other Writers.
Excerpt from Hiroshima, by John Hersey.
Learning from Other Writers.
"My Body, My Weapon, My Shame," by Elwood Reid.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Unwanted," by William Finnegan.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Talented Tap-Dancers, Sadistic Bosses, and Sad-Sack Stand-Up Comics; My Gang.
11: Rituals, Games, Performances, and Events.
"The Search for Marvin Gardens," by John McPhee.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Teaching the N-Word," by Emily Bernard.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Group Grief," by Lily Tuck.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: They''ve Got Game.
12: Codes (and Their Unraveling).
"Notes on Class," by Paul Fussell.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Music Is My Bag," by Meghan Daum.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Six to Eight Black Men," by David Sedaris.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Cryptography.
13: Spatial Forms.
Objects.
Lists and Other Documents.
Places.
"Portrait of My Body," by Phillip Lopate.
Learning from Other Writers.
"The Last Supper," by Jon Mooallem.
"The Coroner''s Photographs," by Brent Staples.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Memoria ex Machina," by Marshall Jon Fisher.
Learning from Other Writers.
"At the Dam," by Joan Didion.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Objects of My Affection; Welcome to My Hometown.
14: The Collage.
"The Little Venus of the Eskimos," by Charles Simic.
"Three Pokes of a Thistle," by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Jessica, the Hound and the Casket Trade," by Thomas Lynch.
Learning from Other Writers.
Excerpt from The Queen''s Throat, by Wayne Koestenbaum.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Why These Five Things Go Together.
15: Dominoes.
"The Clan of One-Breasted Women," by Terry Tempest Williams.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Influenza 1918," by Jane Brox.
Learning from Other Writers.
"Geek Love," by Adam Rogers.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: On the Day I Was Born . . ..
16: Variations and Inventions.
Meditative Essays.
Argumentative Essays.
"Dysfunctional Narratives: or ''Mistakes Were Made''," by Charles Baxter.
Learning from Other Writers.
"In the Combat Zone," by Leslie Marmon Silko.
Learning from Other Writers.
"On Seeing England for the First Time," by Jamaica Kincaid.
Learning from Other Writers.
Inspirations: Testing Your Education.
Complex and Compound Forms.
"Round Trip," by John D''Agata.
PART III: NOTES ON REVISION.
17: Revising on Your Own.
18: Sharing Your Work with Others.
A Sense of What You''ve Already Accomplished.
Suggestions for Improvement.
19: Final Drafts.
Making the Big Changes.
Polishing Your Prose.
Two Parting Caveats.
Author Biographies.
Index.

"This is the most original, thoughtful exposition of ways to approach creative nonfiction . . . Fresh and innovative in a landscape of readers that is increasingly redundant."

"I'm a huge fan of Pollack's approach and have already incorporated it into my classroom, with wonderful results."

"The form method supports the process that I believe is essential in the writing of creative nonfiction: What QUESTION drives this essay?"

"This is the most original, thoughtful exposition of ways to approach creative nonfiction . . . Fresh and innovative in a landscape of readers that is increasingly redundant."

"I'm a huge fan of Pollack's approach and have already incorporated it into my classroom, with wonderful results."

"The form method supports the process that I believe is essential in the writing of creative nonfiction: What QUESTION drives this essay?"