Kirkus Reviews QR Code
YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP by Lee Gutkind

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between

By Lee Gutkind

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7382-1554-9
Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong/Perseus

A practical primer on writing “true stories, well told.”

Prolific writer, magazine editor and academic Gutkind (Almost Human: Making Robots Think, 2007, etc.) examines a fast-moving literary genre that promotes credible nonfiction material that’s both edifying and entertaining. The first section of his two-part writing guide defines and then describes the conception of authoring creative nonfiction. The second section serves as a motivational guide for writers. Much inspiration can be found in Gutkind’s authoritative, slickly written amalgam combining the “basic, anchoring elements” of nonfiction with industry wisdom on fact-checking and boundaries and a short history on authors who questionably padded their subject matter. The author highlights “immersion” research (experiencing subject matter personally) and the importance of rewriting, structure and focus, and he includes valuable writing (and reading) exercises that deconstruct the finer details of the process. Gutkind’s generous use of apposite excerpts from such authors as Rebecca Skloot and Lauren Slate further engages readers, encouraging them to practice and apply his writing techniques. Reminiscent of Stephen King’s fiction handbook On Writing, the book will be useful to both new writers and seasoned chroniclers seeking a professional refresher course on the basics of content and continuity and on how to expand audience attention for typically esoteric material. Gutkind also provides a helpful appendix called, “Then and Now: Great (and Not So Great) Moments in Creative Nonfiction, 1993-2010,” which includes such significant events as the creation of Oprah’s Book Club and the James Frey scandal.

An accessible, indispensable nonfiction guidebook from an authority who knows his subject from cover to cover.