The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre

Prentiss_Wilkins.inddThough creative nonfiction has been around since Montaigne, St. Augustine, and Seneca, we’ve only just begun to ask how this genre works, why it functions the way it does, and where its borders reside. But for each question we ask, another five or ten questions roil to the surface. And each of these questions, it seems, requires a more convoluted series of answers. What’s more, the questions students of creative nonfiction are drawn to during class discussions, the ones they argue the longest and loudest, are the same ideas debated by their professors in the hallways and at the corner bar. In this collection, sixteen essential contemporary creative nonfiction writers reflect on whatever far, dark edge of the genre they find themselves most drawn to. The result is this fascinating anthology that wonders at the historical and contemporary borderlands between fiction and nonfiction; the illusion of time on the page; the mythology of memory; poetry, process, and the use of received forms; the impact of technology on our writerly lives; immersive research and the power of witness; achronology and collage; and what we write and why we write.

Contributors: Nancer Ballard, H. Lee Barnes, Kim Barnes, Mary Clearman Blew, Joy Castro, Robin Hemley, Judith Kitchen, Brenda Miller, Ander Monson, Dinty W. Moore, Sean Prentiss, Lia Purpura, Erik Reece, Jonathan Rovner, Bob Shacochis, and Joe Wilkins.

Prentiss and Wilkins have collected a strong and engaging group of writers to not only examine the form and function of the twenty-first century essay but also to contemplate how the essayist attempts to reconcile the layered realities of what’s real, what’s remembered, and what’s online. Here is an essay collection with edge. —Jill talbot, editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction

Prentiss and Wilkins have gathered together some of the freshest voices and brightest stars in contemporary nonfiction writing for this anthology on process and practice. The anthology will be especially useful to teachers of creative writing who are looking for succinct, spot-on essays about the craft of writing nonfiction. Each essay offers the reader some new avenue or technique in nonfiction writing to chew on, to ruminate over, and to be emboldened by for future incorporation into one’s own creative work. —Debra Marquart, author of The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere

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