Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, 2010

July 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Nothing but nonfiction, with the editors of Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Pinch, writers from The Washington Post, memoirists, journalists, in Faulkner’s Oxford, Nov.  12-14, 2010.

Featuring Lee Gutkind, (Brevity editor) Dinty W. Moore, Mike Rosenwald, David Magee, Kristen Iversen, Neil White

Early bird discount if you register before August 1st. More info here:


Creative Nonfiction Relaunches as a Quarterly Magazine

March 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

If you haven’t seen the new format/new content Creative Nonfiction magazine, you should rush to a bookstore/ the subscription kiosk /or the AWP bookfair and score a copy.  Looks smart, reads smarter.

Here’s a brief review from the Pittsburgh City Paper:

For 37 issues, CNF was basically a paperback book. Now it’s got the newstand-friendly dimensions of Esquire — though with 90 two-color matte pages, not 140 glossy, full-color ones. And while only ads sport photos, CNF features more graphics and spot illustrations.

But the emphasis remains on the words, with author interviews and writing advice now joining the essays and narrative journalism. The spring issue includes Details editor-at-large Jeff Gordinier’s in-depth interview with Dave Eggers (spotlighting Zeitoun, Egger’s new nonfiction book about a Syrian immigrant’s Hurricane Katrina travails). Ian Morris, of venerable, soon-to-be-online-only TriQuarterly, ponders the future of the literary magazine. And a seven-writer themed package on immortality includes both philosopher Todd May (“Teaching Death”) and an excerpt from Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Skloot read at the relaunch. She noted that work on her critically acclaimed book began when she was Gutkind’s grad student at Pitt, 12 years ago.

… Last word goes to veteran essayist Phillip Lopate, whose piece on veracity in storytelling in the new CNF upbraids writers who “thinly imagine” real-life scenes they haven’t actually witnessed.

“The fact that we can see things in our minds’ eyes doesn’t necessarily make them literarily valid,” Lopate writes. “The harder imaginative act for nonfiction writers is seeing the pattern in actual experience and putting it into some sort of order so that what seemed random is given narrative significance and symbolic resonance. Understanding is thick imagining.

via Creative Nonfiction begins life anew as a quarterly magazine. – Books – Book Reviews & Features – Pittsburgh City Paper.

Brevity: A Heartbeat on the Page

February 24, 2009 § 1 Comment

We are grateful for Luna Park’s thoughtful and provocative review of Brevity’s flash nonfiction concept and two essays from our most recent issue.  Read it here:

Luna Park Reviews Brevity

The selections of Brevity, past and present, satiate a need for resonance that flash fiction is unable to achieve. They also reveal a point of contention about the creative nonfiction form: at what level of origination, revision, or, “compression” does creative nonfiction simply become fiction? The recently released Brevity 29 offers several examples of brief narratives of both blurred genre and earned resonance.


Feel-Good Nonfiction

January 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Our friend The Ethical Exhibitionist comments provocatively and wisely on Lee Gutkind’s response to Herman Rosenblat (see entry below if you missed the set up):

It seems to me that Lee Gutkind absolutely nails it in his observation that these fraudulent memoirs couldn’t be marketed as fiction.  The one thing that James Frey, Margaret Seltzer, and Herman Rosenblat all have in common (aside from the fact that they’re frauds) is that their stories are all “affirming,” in the sense that they tell the reader, “Hey, what you want to believe is true actually IS true.”  Jamey Frey showed us that addicts can overcome their sickness through willpower alone; Margaret Seltzer showed us that even a career gangbanger can escape the streets if she really wants to; Herman Rosenblat– most nauseatingly of all– reassured us that we can find joy even in genocide, if we know where to look.  These writers comfort their readership through, to use Joan Didion’s language, “the imposition of a narrative line” that insists that there’s something reassuringly  noble about humanity, that the types of simplified endings that the world of fiction would dismiss as “contrived” or “trite” actually do happen.

That’s why, I think, defenders of these memwahists like to say “But it doesn’t matter– it’s still a good story.”  For them, “good story” doesn’t indicate aesthetic merit (because, of course, these stories are about as well-written as your typical LIFETIME ORIGINAL MOVIE or any number of Very Special Episodes of MR. BELVEDERE), but, rather, that the story made them feel good by insisting that their own intuitive optimism about complicated issues is somehow “right” in the “real world.”


A Million Little Apples

January 7, 2009 § 3 Comments

Meghan Daum in the LA Times offers an interesting, somewhat deeper than most, look at the subject of fictional memoirs, specifically the newest debacle on the block, Herman Rosenblat’s now-defunct Holocaust memoir.  

Along the way she talks with Lee Gutkind, who (correctly we think) debunks the idea that these fictional memoirs might easily be published as successful novels:

“I don’t think [Rosenblat’s story] is a particularly terrific story compared to the fictional worlds created by most fiction writers today,” Gutkind added. “It’s a cute story … but it doesn’t have the scope and depth required of fiction. But once you say it’s true, it becomes the kind of thing a publisher can take to the bank.”

Daum’s full piece is well worth the read.


Lee Gutkind on Immersion

November 18, 2008 § 2 Comments

My friend* Eric Parker interviews my friend* Lee Gutkind over at the website Fresno Famous.

As well as founding and editing the magazine Creative Nonfiction, Lee is a major practitioner and proponent of the branch of creative nonfiction called “immersion journalism,” with roots in Capote and links to Kidder and McPhee and Susan Orlean.  Lee knows more about “immersion” perhaps than anyone else teaching right now, and has some excellent guidance and observation in the full interview.

A quote:  “… that’s why immersions are so wonderful in that you walk into an immersion having an idea, idea A, but by the time you’ve spent three months or six months, you have a new idea, or a different formulation of your idea. Then, if you spend another year or two, your idea sophisticates and focuses even more. So, it’s a constant balancing challenge to make sure that you are giving the subject the proper attention.”

*(As a side note, it is continually fascinating how small the literary world seems when you’ve been knocking around in it for twenty years or so.  I met Lee many years ago as a student in Pittsburgh; and came to know Eric just this past summer in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  The six degrees of separation game in the writing world sometimes seems too easy — it should be one or two degrees of separation.)

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with lee gutkind at BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

%d bloggers like this: