According to Vivian Gornick, "A memoir is a tale taken from life—that is, from actual, not imagined, occurrences—related by a first-person narrator who is undeniably the writer. Beyond these bare requirements it has the same responsibility as the novel or the short story: to shape a piece of experience so that it moves from a tale of private interest to one with meaning for the disinterested reader. Literary critic Barbara Lounsberry—in her book, The Art of Fact —suggests four constitutive characteristics of the genre, the first of which is "Documentable subject matter chosen from the real world as opposed to 'invented' from the writer's mind".
The second characteristic is "Exhaustive research,"  which she claims allows writers "novel perspectives on their subjects" and "also permits them to establish the credibility of their narratives through verifiable references in their texts". She stresses the importance of describing and revivifying the context of events in contrast to the typical journalistic style of objective reportage.
Creative nonfiction may be structured like traditional fiction narratives, as is true of Fenton Johnson 's story of love and loss, Geography of the Heart ,  and Virginia Holman's Rescuing Patty Hearst. Creative nonfiction writers have embraced new ways of forming their texts—including online technologies—because the genre leads itself to grand experimentation.
Dozens of new journals have sprung up—both in print and online—that feature creative nonfiction prominently in their offerings. Writers of creative or narrative non-fiction often discuss the level, and limits, of creative invention in their works and justify the approaches they have taken to relating true events. Some of the facts have slipped through the holes—we no longer know them nor have any means of verifying them—and in these cases I have reimagined scenes or reconstructed events in a way I believe reflects the essence of the scene or the event in the minds and hearts of the people who lived through it.
To my mind this literary tinkering does not alter the more profound truth of the story. They argue that " We continually—often unconsciously—renovate our memories, shaping them into stories that bring coherence to chaos. Memory has been called the ultimate 'mythmaker' Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, authors of The Sugar Girls , a novelistic story based on interviews with former sugar-factory workers, make a similar point: "Although we have tried to remain faithful to what our interviewees have told us, at a distance of over half a century many memories are understandably incomplete, and where necessary we have used our own research, and our imaginations, to fill in the gaps.
However, the essence of the stories related here is true, as they were told to us by those who experienced them at first hand. In recent years, there have been several well-publicized incidents of memoir writers who exaggerated or fabricated certain facts in their work. Although there have been instances of traditional and literary journalists falsifying their stories, the ethics applied to creative nonfiction are the same as those that apply to journalism. The truth is meant to be upheld, just told in a literary fashion. It examines the relationship between truth and accuracy, and whether it is appropriate for a writer to substitute one for the other.
He and fact-checker Jim Fingal have an intense debate about the boundaries of creative nonfiction, or "literary nonfiction".
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There is very little published literary criticism of creative nonfiction works, despite the fact that the genre is often published in respected publications such as The New Yorker , Vanity Fair , Harper's , and Esquire. As the popularity of the genre continues to expand, many nonfiction authors and a handful of literary critics are calling for more extensive literary analysis of the genre.
This is the contribution that poststructuralist theory has to make to an understanding of literary nonfiction, since poststructuralist theorists are primarily concerned with how we make meaning and secure authority for claims in meaning of language. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the genre. For the magazine, see, see Creative Nonfiction magazine.
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The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. We need to move to a system that offers rational borders and removes the false limitations that have been set on our genres. What is the solution to this overlapping confusion of genre and shape?
Let genre teach us only the shape of a piece since the term genre originated to mean style and never was meant to include fiction or truth. Rather, prose is the third genre but before creative nonfiction became popular, fiction was seen to equal prose. Now we see fiction and creative nonfiction as genres rather than as types of prose. Once we have moved to three genres poetry, drama, prose , then let us create a new category that deals with truth or invention. I propose veracity. Definition of Veracity : The observance of truth, or truthfulness, of a thing, something that conforms to truth and fact.
Etymology of Veracity : From Latin, meaning truthful. So we will have two or three veracities.
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Veracity only teaches us about the truthfulness or invention of a piece. And let us have three or four genres.
Genres will only teach us how a piece will look on the page. Appearance: A changeling. Can appear like the writer, like other humans, or entirely unlike humans at all. Practicing a new way to view genre and veracity. What does this new system allow that sees genre as poetry, drama, and prose? That offers a scale for veracity of a piece? One : It makes the teaching life easier. This simpler view on genre and veracity is easy to teach. Every piece of writing is:.
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Two : It allows writers flexibility to conceive of how they should write on the page. Three : This system allows publishers a way to clearly articulate what they want. Again, just choose a genre s and a veracity s and the writer will know what to submit.
Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction: Margot Singer: Bloomsbury Academic
Four : This new system instructs the reader more clearly on what they will receive. The contract is clear between writer and reader. Genre teaches us about shape. But I see my truths, attempts, tries at understanding life not always in the long paragraphs of prose. Sometimes my brain, heart, hands need, yes, other forms. Most offer major flaws in how they categorize poetry. We, the reader, have no idea if a poem is real or invented.
We can continue to work to decide where the hybrid boundary begins and ends, but it seems that the hybrid space could be reserved for pieces that mix or play with truth and fiction. He lives on a small lake in northern Vermont and serves as an assistant professor at Norwich University.
The base farmhouse ale is tasty enough: chewy grain flavors spiked with flavors of minerality, lemon juice, white pepper not from the use of actual lemon or pepper; those flavors are some of the thousands of possible flavors created during fermentation.
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But the time spent in used oak gives it additional notes of vanilla and a slight woodsy astringency. This is an essay on craft and, rest assured, I do not make drinking part of my process. While enjoying this farmhouse ale, the sun waving goodbye over rowhome rooftops in South Philly, I began to think about writing in terms of beer.
The initial metaphor I was teasing out between sips was that bottling a beer is like publishing an essay. Your thoughts brew and brew over the course of drafting and, of course, you want to end up with your sharpest, most finely crafted version, so you stop drafting at some point, stop thinking. You have a sense of when the essay is as good as it will be, knowing that you can overdraft a piece, can overthink the subject and let slack the tension. HandFarm, however is a bottle conditioned beer, meaning that the yeast is active in the bottle.
The beer, quite purposefully, continues to develop in ways commensurate with variables of time and storage. Digesting the sugars around us.
Boozing up the place. For him there is no growth or progress, no final product, without the preservation of that initial spark. The first vinegar must inform all others.