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Creative NonfictionCreative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction Winter 2015

Creative Nonfiction is the voice of the genre. Every issue includes long-form essays blending style with substance; writing that pushes the genre’s boundaries; commentary and notes on craft; conversations with writers; and more. Simply put, Creative Nonfiction demonstrates the depth and versatility of the genre it helped define.

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Creative Nonfiction
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4 Issues


5 min.
what’s the story?

“When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.” —Czeslaw Milosz I don’t mean to get our writers in hot water with their families, but the truth is they may have already done that themselves. I AM HOPING THAT READERS who discover they are characters in these essays in this “Lost Truths & Family Legends” issue will write and tell me if the stories are true—or, at least, accurate, which can (it’s worth remembering) be different than “true.” Or are they exaggerated or totally out of whack—figments of the writers’ imaginations? And if the latter is the case, maybe the other characters will tell me what really happened! For example, I wonder how the other characters in Fritz Swanson’s “The Hart’s Long Life” would tell this story about the author hitting…

5 min.
how can you write nonfiction when you don’t have the facts?

JESSICA HANDLER is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss and Invisible Sisters: A Memoir. Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR and in Tin House, Drunken Boat, Brevity, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and More magazine. She works with writers through CNF’s online classes and mentoring program. FROM OUR VERY FIRST endeavors in creative writing, we’re told to write what we know. As nonfiction writers, we’re proud of our fealty to the truth. We don’t make things up. Or, if we do make things up, we employ the deftness and elegance of signal phrases. We write, I imagine. Or, I believed. We write, She told me, because the fact is that she did, and the truth conveyed to us is hers (whoever she may be). Writing…

18 min.
providing the mortar

RICK BRAGG IS NO STRANGER to creative nonfiction or cementing other people’s stories together with his own words. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his feature writing for The New York Times and later penned the best-selling memoir All Over but the Shoutin’. Bragg is currently a professor at the University of Alabama, where he teaches magazine and feature writing and encourages students to strive for clarity in their work. A son of the South, raised in Possum Trot, Alabama, Bragg says he was both excited and unnerved by the prospect of interviewing and writing the story of the notorious rock ’n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, who’s reported to have an itchy trigger finger, good aim, a short fuse, and an appetite for pills. In his recent New…

20 min.

MICHELLE HERMAN’s new collection of essays, Like A Song, is due out in March 2015, and a book for children, A Girl’s Guide to Life, is due out in December 2014. Her last essay collection, Stories We Tell Ourselves, was long-listed for the 2014 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. She directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ohio State. MY FATHER—A LIST MAKER, a planner, a person who liked to be (and almost always was) in charge—left nothing to chance: he left us instructions for after his death. He left multiple sets of instructions, actually. He left a document called “special instructions” on the desktop of the PC in his home office, which we called “the den.” He left another, older document (“instructions”) in the computer’s documents folder…

13 min.
the archivist

EMMA ROSENBERG is a writer and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts. She wrote this essay while studying at The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Her writing has appeared in Slice Magazine, Guernica, The Rumpus, Fwriction : Review, and others. She currently works for The Baffler. All photographs are of the past, yet in them an instant of the past is arrested so that, unlike a lived past, it can never lead to the present. —JOHN BERGER, ANOTHER WAY OF TELLING SILVER HALIDES ARE EXPOSED TO LIGHT, and what’s left is a house: two mismatched windows, a cast-iron gate, a drainpipe running down the exterior. The sunken roof is caught in the shadow of the building next door, and white matter—either snowfall or dust on the negative—speckles the air. With time,…

11 min.
list maker

DEREK HINCKLEY is a student in the MFA program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is currently working on a thematically linked collection of essays centered on three years he spent teaching English at an underperforming high school in rural Mississippi. ACCOUNTANT Summer 2000 It’s hard to reconcile the father I know with the vibrant young man he describes in his stories of adventure and cunning. I was born when he was in his late thirties, and by the time I was equipped to start making lasting memories of him, he was solidly middle-aged and comfortable in a deep rut. He sat behind home plate at my Little League games, reading a book, only taking a break when I came up to bat. We spent weekends going to the computer swap meet,…