Creative Nonfiction Winter 2019

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.

United States
Creative Nonfiction
USD 7.50
USD 25
4 Números

en este número

4 min.
what’s the story?

READING THROUGH THE CRAFT pieces in this issue made me think of a bar where I used to spend a fair amount of time. The Squirrel Hill Café is located on the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, not too far from the Tree of Life synagogue, which tragically became known nationwide after a gunman killed eleven worshippers on a Sabbath morning in October. I don’t know when it first opened, but I have lived in or near Squirrel Hill my entire life, and the café has always been there. It has a black tile front façade and red door; red deco writing spells out the name, with two red squirrels underneath. Locals call the place “The Squirrel Cage”; regulars, simply “The Cage.” No one I…

13 min.
what we don’t talk about when we talk about drinking

WHY DO WE DRINK ALCOHOL? I heard it spelled out with clinical precision one night, years ago. I’d recently landed a job as a fact-checker at Gourmet and found myself out for drinks near the magazine’s Times Square offices with some editors I was a little in awe of. My shoes were all wrong. Where I’d gone to college was all wrong. I was pretty sure any drink I ordered would be judged wrong, too, as my companions sloshed singlemalts around on their palates and assessed the esters and phenolics. But I needed a Manhattan—my grandma’s cocktail and, for me, always, a big boozy hug of a drink—so I ordered one. The grizzled editor seated next to me did the same, which I’ll confess I found affirming. When our Manhattans…

22 min.
de-mythologizing the drunk genius

THE FIRST TIME Leslie Jamison shared her story of addiction in an AA meeting, spilling her guts to a group of strangers in folding chairs, a man in the back of the school gymnasium started to yell at her. She’d been saying something about learning to pray, struggling to articulate the intermittent relief prayer had offered from the grind of being newly sober, when it happened: “This is boring!” he shouted. As it turned out, the man was suffering from dementia. He was an accepted character who yelled impolite things at everyone. Still, for Jamison, the encounter tapped into a deep anxiety: what if the part of us that seeks health and happiness is never as interesting as the part that courts damage? The addiction memoir, after all, tends to assume…

5 min.
the lesson

“HOLD YOUR BREATH, or the fumes will choke you.” My mother held a lowball glass to her chest, vodka glinting in the morning light, and said, “Then you swallow.” She raised her chin, peered from under thick glasses, and tossed a shot down her gullet. She said we should take a break from chores. We were living in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a suburb of Albuquerque. My stepfather, Gary, was not home. She breathed through her nose and hissed out: “Then you take a breath.” She poured another shot over ice and said, “Now it’s your turn.” She held out the glass. I grimaced, but I also felt grown-up, mostly because I was thirteen and drinking booze was something grown-ups did. Also, the emotional and rational parts of my brain didn’t know each other…

19 min.
the cherry birds

WINNER! Best Essay Prize The cedar waxwings swarmed the backyard this afternoon—at least a thousand of them.… Poor trees. They looked so patient in the snow, so resigned to being stripped of their color for the sake of the birds.—ANGELA PELSTER, “LES OISEAUX” IN 1908, A BILL came before the Vermont legislature, “an act relating to the protection of fruit from the cedar waxwing.” The title was rather euphemistic: H.474 proposed protecting fruit by removing protection for the cedar waxwing, a fruitloving common songbird with a gluttonous streak. Quite simply, the fruit growers wanted to shoot the birds, and they convinced the members of the House to pass the bill. But then the bill reached the Senate. And just as the prosecution in a murder trial might show the jury moving, carefree photos of…

7 min.
bone bread

C6H12O6 → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2Equation for alcoholic fermentation LATE ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT at the kitchen window. She catches a glimpse of her reflection; she looks tired in her grandmother’s apron tied over the witch costume she’s still wearing. Most years, she buys the pan de muerto from a panadería in the Mission, selecting the bread shaped like bones from a smudged glass case, but this year, she needs to make it from scratch. Get out the flour, the sugar, anise seed. Wipe down the butcher block. Two large bowls, clinking stainless steel from the depths of the cabinet. Find the rattling measuring spoons, all linked together in a ring. Butter. Salt. Yeast. Often when she cooks, she wings it: a pinch of something, a shake of another. She eyeballs it. But with the bread…