You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction—From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between

. 2012. 272p. 978-0-73821-554-9. 16.
Gutkind (founder & editor, Creative Nonfiction magazine; Keep It Real: Everything You Need To Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction) strays little from the theme of his writing life. He pens here another creative nonfiction how-to, this time with emphasis on truth telling. He presents general guidelines for weaving fiction techniques into factual writing along with advice on maintaining the writer’s integrity and respecting narrative truth. Gutkind demonstrates how immersion, compression, and other methods can be employed without improperly fudging—or outright faking—reality. His message, that the creative nonfiction writer is responsible for using literary techniques responsibly and ethically to present factual information, is more definitive than in his past works. The second half of his book also contains craft instruction and several long excerpts for learning from prominent creative nonfiction writers such as Rebecca Skloot and Gay Talese.
VERDICT Most writers interested in the genre will want this title on their shelves, though those who own Gutkind’s somewhat dated but more thorough Creative Nonfiction: How To Live It and Write It or his more recent essay collection, above, may pass on this owing to subject overlap.

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