To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

Free Pr. Feb. 2013. 240p. pap. ISBN 9781451696325. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781451696332. COMM
Lopate (director, graduate nonfiction program, Columbia Univ.; The Art of the Personal Essay) offers here another title in what seems to be a whirlwind of recent publishing on creative nonfiction. His discussions and opinions primarily concern the personal essay as representative of the wider genre of literary nonfiction. Lopate is particularly successful in probing the psychological aspects of such factual, intimate writing. His advice is as ruminative and open-ended as the writing style he seeks to draw out of his students, a more philosophical and thought-provoking take on the craft of literary nonfiction than can be found in most of the other choices on this subject. The first part, "The Craft of Personal Narrative," contains the bulk of the text. Section two, "Studies of Practitioners," covers Lopate's favorite essayists, including Charles Lamb, Edward Hoagland, and James Baldwin.
VERDICT Writers and teachers of the personal essay will certainly want this title. Others with a broader interest in literary nonfiction may opt for works presenting more of an overview, such as Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd's Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction or Lee Gutkind's Creative Nonfiction: How To Live It and Write It. [See Prepub Alert, 8/24/12.]
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