In Short: A Gathering of Brief Creative Nonfiction

Overview

Delights and surprises await the reader in this rich gathering of "Shorts" (ranging from several paragraphs to 2,000 words). From Diane Ackerman's fascination with hummingbirds to Andrei Codrescu's idiosyncratic view of nostalgia to Albert Goldbarth's free-wheeling riff on the universe, each Short becomes a sharply focused lens on an outer world or an inner sensibility.
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Overview

Delights and surprises await the reader in this rich gathering of "Shorts" (ranging from several paragraphs to 2,000 words). From Diane Ackerman's fascination with hummingbirds to Andrei Codrescu's idiosyncratic view of nostalgia to Albert Goldbarth's free-wheeling riff on the universe, each Short becomes a sharply focused lens on an outer world or an inner sensibility.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even readers skeptical of short-attention-span publishing will find these short-short (fewer than 2000 words) essays addictive. They're like a plate of Cheese Doodles at a party: not every one is crisp and perfect, but many are, and so the reader keeps going, waiting for the next flash of brilliance. The short-short essay form seems to inspire people to write about nature. Though some are flaccid, the best, such as Kathleen Norris's paean to rain and Donald Hall's wry notes about the joy we take in suffering bad weather, connect natural events to humanity. Short memoirs are poignant, and the form cuts away any sentimentality. In three paragraphs, Stuart Dybek recalls the summer nights when drivers would occasionally pass through his neighborhood with their headlights off, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. gives his family's reasoning about why white people are poor cooks. Within such a short form, the spaces between things become paramountand in the best cases make exposition unnecessary. Judson Mitcham tells of feeding his mother in the hospital, then spotting a mass of starlings on his way home. In recalling the 50 pounds of moose meat her father gave her when she departed for college in the '60s, Brenda Peterson easily explains the food chain and her place in it. The editors contribute a cogent introduction on this innovative form, and Bernard Cooper writes in his preface about how small events become powerful, then demonstrates just that principle with a concluding meditation on sighing that is both sad and funny. (July)
Library Journal
Kitchen, a poetry reviewer for the Georgia Review, and Jones, a librarian and essayist, have compiled an anthology of 90 brief pieces, ranging from a few paragraphs to a few pages each, to introduce the emerging genre of "creative nonfiction." Somewhat less informational than standard essays, these nonfiction shorts focus on distilled insights, scenes, and memories. Indeed, many of the writers showcased here are best known for their poetry (e.g., Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Rita Dove); some, such as Diane Ackerman, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Lee Gutkind (Creative Nonfiction, LJ 4/1/96), are seasoned in nonfiction; others are less well known. The editors have artfully arranged the works so that a theme or keyword thread connects each writing to the next one. For example, "Across the Street," an essay about a dying neighbor, is followed by "A Wind from the North," which reminisces about a recently deceased uncle. Yet each gem stands on its own. Biographical notes complete the volume. Recommended for public libraries.Cathy Sabol, Northern Virginia Community Coll., Manassas
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393039603
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: The Disproportionate Power of the Small 17
Editors' Introduction 23
Lights 31
All-Out Effort 32
Volar 34
Around the Corner 37
Enough Jam for a Lifetime 39
An Unspoken Hunger 44
Three Voices 45
Proofs 48
Tino & Papi 55
Last Shot 57
LZ Gator, Vietnam, February 1994 60
Culloden 62
Afternoon Tea 65
The Shock of Teapots 68
Harbour 72
The Opposite of Saffron 74
In Praise of the Humble Comma 79
Suspended 83
The Blues Merchant 85
The Usual Story 87
Joe Turner's Come and Gone: The Play 90
Sunday 92
Mint Snowball 94
Borrowed Time 96
Loose Ends 98
Nostalgia 100
Across the Street 102
A Wind from the North 104
Snow 107
Decoy 110
Growing Up Game 115
Rose Vegetables 120
Interlude 123
Orange Who? 125
Hands 128
The Signature of God 131
My Children Explain the Big Issues 133
The Complaint 136
My Mother in Two Photographs, Among Other Things 138
Ice Cream 142
On the Street 144
Call Guy 146
Locker Room Talk 149
White Men Can't Drum 152
Cat-Like 157
MRI 162
On Two Wheels 165
Running Xian 168
A Note About Allen Tate 172
Fernando and Marisela 175
A Voice for the Lonely 178
Museum Piece 183
An End to the Still Lifes 185
Three Fragments 191
Inheritance 193
Modern Times 194
Nostalgia for Everything 198
On the Way Home 200
Falling Stars 201
Three Yards 203
The Tree Beyond Imagining 206
December Meditation at Camp Polk Cemetery 210
Notes Toward Identifying a Body 215
A Match to the Heart 219
Rain 221
Proud Flesh 223
April 15 227
Walking 229
Into the Storm 233
Crazy Horse 237
Nacoochee Indian Mound: Helen, Georgia 239
The Stories Tell the Land 241
Sanctuary 244
Buckeye 247
August 251
Stonehenge and the Louvre Were Cool 253
Winter 259
Natural Edges 261
Good Use for Bad Weather 264
Greenhouse 268
Nature's See-Saw 270
Outside's Not What We Think 275
Falling 280
Grubby 281
Children in the Woods 284
We Are Distracted 288
One Human Hand 293
Mute Dancers: How to Watch a Hummingbird 295
Farder to Reache 299
The Fine Art of Sighing 301
Biographical Notes 305
Permissions 321
Index 329
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