The complexity of purity

February 4, 2016 | 11 Comments

Q&A: Lisa Davis on a Mormon tragedy

May 4, 2011 | 3 Comments

The Sins of Brother Curtis: A Story of Betrayal, Conviction, and the Mormon Church by Lisa Davis. Scribner, 368 pages. I met Lisa Davis six years ago, in a creative nonfiction workshop at Goucher College, and I read her recently published The Sins of Brother Curtis first out of loyalty to a friend and then with increasing admiration for her work. Davis, a San Francisco journalist and a teacher at Santa Clara University, has painstakingly crafted a gripping narrative about …

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Stylist nabs National Book Award

November 27, 2010 | One Comment

I was glad to see a dark-horse novel, Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon, win the National Book Award recently for fiction. I hadn’t heard of the sixty-six-year-old author, and neither had a lot of folks. But I ordered her winning book, set in the 1970s at a horse-racing track in West Virginia, after reading excerpts from some of her other novels on Amazon. Lord of Misrule is about a reckless young woman and two “lonely and childless old men …

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Dinty W. Moore on essays, essaying & earning self-knowledge

September 24, 2010 | 13 Comments

Dinty W. Moore’s books include a popular spiritual inquiry, The Accidental Buddhist, and an award-winning, nontraditional “generational memoir,” Between Panic and Desire. His new book—his sixth—is Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (Writers Digest Books, 262 pages). “The personal essay is a gentle art,” he writes, “an idiosyncratic combination of the author’s discrete sensibilities and the endless possibilities of meaning and connection. The essay is graceful, wise, and always surprising. The essay invites extreme …

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The glory of nonfiction

August 31, 2009 | 6 Comments

from Verlyn Klinkenborg’s interview with James Norton for Flak Magazine “I believe in the glory of nonfiction. I don’t believe in the hierarchy of genres that seems to prevail in the United States. Is the novel the higher calling, or is poetry the higher calling? Frankly I think nonfiction is equally great and equally profound—and often gloriously better. I’m a convert to my own genre, is the way I’d say it. You meet a lot of nonfiction writers who feel …

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Magical discovery, mundane craft

July 16, 2009 | 3 Comments

Don Murray, Dinty Moore & E.L. Doctorow on discovery in writing. Writers who admit to having more than a hunch as they launch a new essay, story, or book nevertheless are often paradoxical in their advice about initial composition: they may have a plan before writing, a sketchy outline and a destination—even the exact ending, word for word—but say their powerful material is discovered en route as they veer into the intuitive realm of the brain. Perhaps it is simply that, as …

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Review: ‘The Inner Circle’

June 1, 2009 | One Comment

The Inner Circle, a novel by T.C. Boyle. Penguin. 432 pages. T.C. Boyle has a gift for bringing to life historical figures in his fiction. He did it to John Harvey Kellogg in his comedic novel The Road to Wellville, made into a movie by the same name, and he does it more movingly in The Inner Circle, also turned into a film, about Alfred Kinsey, whose sex research at Indiana University transformed scientific inquiry and helped change Americans’ sexual …

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