Though readers are often baffled by the concept of creative non-fiction, we all read tonnes of it: magazine profiles, longform narrative journalism, memoirs and essays. Creative non-fiction doesn’t just factually report, it tells stories of people, places and events.
Lee Gutkind sums up creative non-fiction in one simple sentence: “true stories well told.” It can cover a wide range of topics, including (but not limited to) the memoir, personal essays, profiles of the famous and ordinary, travel writing and more.
Want a reading list to head to your local bookshop or library with? Because creative non fiction is so diverse, you can follow your interests down many paths. Like crime? Try Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Interested in all things food? Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation might be up your alley. Need a laugh? Why not check out David Sedaris’ body of work?
If reading online is more your style, there’s a huge number of outlets to choose from, and we’ve picked some particularly good pieces for you to check out below.
Jesmyn Ward’s powerful personal essay ‘A Cold Current’ in the New York Times on growing up black in Mississippi is eloquent and devastating. On her first brush with racism, she says “I couldn’t articulate it, but I felt menace. I felt an undercurrent of violence like the cold touch of deep water in a lake.”
Kiese Laymon’s piece ‘How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America’ in Gawker clutches at your throat with its intensity. This is post-Zimmerman America, a place where the lack of value on the lives of young black men has just been brutally illustrated.
Jon Krakauer revisits the story of the life and sad death of Christopher McCandless, the subject of his book Into the Wild and the subsequent film of the same name, at the New Yorker. A little known concentration camp in the Ukraine may hold the answer to what exactly lead to his sad death.
For something more local, Mandy Sayer’s piece in the Monthly about the child gangs in Tweed Heads gives a glimpse into a dark, troubled world.
If creative non-fiction sounds like it’s up your alley, why not join us for the Creative Non-Fiction Festival on Saturday 2 November.