The nonfictionist's guide : on reading and writing creative nonfiction.

By: Root, Robert, 1942-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Lanham, MD. : Rowman & Littlefield, 2008Description: xv, 223 p. ; 23 cm.ISBN: 9780742556171.Subject(s): Literature | Creative writing | Prose literature-Authorship | Reportage literature-AuthorshipDDC classification: 808.02ROO
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Book 808.02 ROO (Browse shelf) Available F14352
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Nonfiction_the 'fourth genre' (along with poetry, fiction, and drama)_is a literary field affecting bestseller lists, writing programs, writers' workshops, and conferences on the study of creative writing, composition/rhetoric, and literature. It is often labeled and/or limited as 'creative' or 'literary' nonfiction and subdivided into essay, memoir, literary journalism, personal cultural criticism, and narratives of nature and travel. A vital and growing form, nonfiction has, until now, needed a sustained discussion about its poetics_both the theory and the craft of this genre. The Nonfictionist's Guide offers a lively exploration of the elements of contemporary nonfiction and suggests imaginative approaches to writing it. Each chapter on a vital aspect of contemporary nonfiction concludes with a separate section of relevant 'notes for nonfictionists.' Beginning with a new definition of nonfiction and explanation of the nonfiction motive, Robert Root discusses the use of experimental forms, the effects of present and past tense and experiential and reflective voices, and the issue of truth. He provides groundbreaking explorations of the segmented essay and the role of spaces as an essential literary device, guiding both readers and writers through the innovative and stimulating ways we write nonfiction now.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Preface (p. ix)
  • Acknowledgments (p. xiii)
  • 1 The Nature of Nonfiction (p. 1)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Last Words First (p. 14)
  • 2 Not the Design of the Author (p. 19)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: The Design of the Author (p. 26)
  • 3 The Experimental Art (p. 29)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Experimenting (p. 38)
  • 4 The Art of Seeing (p. 43)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Seeing (p. 60)
  • 5 Collage, Montage, Mosaic, Vignette, Episode, Segment (p. 65)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Segmenting (p. 82)
  • 6 This is What the Spaces Say (p. 85)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Structure (p. 88)
  • 7 Immediacy (p. 95)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Immediacy (p. 112)
  • 8 Distance (p. 117)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Distance (p. 130)
  • 9 Writing by Ear (p. 135)
  • Notes For Nonfictionists: Writing By Ear (p. 150)
  • 10 Place (p. 155)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Place (p. 170)
  • 11 Truth (p. 177)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Truth (p. 192)
  • 12 Last Words Last (p. 197)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Last Words for Readers (p. 198)
  • Notes for Nonfictionists: Last Words for Writers (p. 200)
  • Notes and References (p. 203)
  • Index (p. 217)
  • About the Author (p. 223)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Root's is a welcome calm, clear voice in the often-confusing discussions surrounding what some refer to as the "fourth genre," i.e., literary nonfiction. Offering a "poetics" of nonfiction, Root (emer., Central Michigan Univ.) provides an incisive exploration of the myriad terms for the genre and lively discussions of the range and depth of experimental forms within it and of research, truth, the segmented essay, and the role of "white space." Although this reviewer occasionally yearned for an appendix containing some of the essays Root discusses, practitioners of the form will find this book an invaluable resource that has practical application in the classroom. It joins other excellent resources on creative nonfiction, including Suzanne Paolo and Brenda Miller's Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction (2004) and Dinty Moore's The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction (2007). Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; general readers. D. L. Cumberland Winona State University