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File: NF

Books + NF + Reviews
2017-03-27 :: dave

It’s a debut memoir by Mike Scalise (full disclosure: a friend who is right now as I type this on a plane to San Francisco to come read at USF as part of our Emerging Writers’ Festival) that tells the story of his illness and diagnosis. Illness: brain tumor on his pituitary gland. Diagnosis: acromegaly. […]

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NF
2016-12-08 :: dave

I. Here’s something I found today in my notebook: Anti-Intellectualism has always been a part of America, and no one’s done a more patriotic job of carrying that banner than its creative writers. We’re told, in craft books and MFA classes, to “write down the bones,” whatever that is. Maybe this is because people who […]

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Books + NF + Reviews
2016-06-06 :: dave

A thing I’ve said more than once in classes is that every good book is a mystery. Which is to say that “mystery” isn’t something to be left for a certain genre of fiction. But mystery might apply just to novels, or to narrative more broadly. Last week I read Paul Lisicky’s new memoir of […]

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NF
2016-05-16 :: dave

It’s a clickbait title. I’ll warn you now: if you’re here to learn how do that you’ll probably be disappointed. But I want to write a bit about one difference between scholarly nonfiction and literary nonfiction. And in doing so, I think I can highlight some assumptions of people who write what they call “creative […]

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NF + teaching
2015-12-29 :: dave

Yesterday I wrote a thing about how the debut memoir seems—in order to be a success—to require a rote approach to structure and form. That memoirs need to look like novels, with a reliance on scenes and a macrostructure that ends with its protagonist’s coming to ultimate terms with his or her conflict. This post […]

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NF
2015-12-28 :: dave

Here’s the opening paragraph of The Tender Bar, a debut memoir published in 2006 by a Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist that, according to my copy, every critic in America loved: We went there for everything we needed. We went there when thirsty, of course, and when hungry, and when dead tired. We went there when happy, to […]

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Announcements + NF
2015-11-24 :: dave

Wishing a happy pub day to Findings: An Illustrated Collection, which might be the perfect Xmas gift for anyone interested in facts, science, data, or earless rabbits born in Fukushima, Japan. It’s Amazon’s #1 New Release in “Scientific Experiments & Projects”! The last page of every issue of Harper’s is dedicated to the Findings column, […]

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NF
2015-11-13 :: dave

I went to this conference a couple weeks ago, and then had a visit from the goon squad (i.e. my parents). Only now getting to think about it. It’s a brief list. The biggest lesson I learned is that if you organize a panel where you come prepared with some new ideas, minimal slides to […]

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NF
2015-06-22 :: dave

“Moving to Iowa Falls was like going back in time, I say, belching out weed smoke. The light is frayed grayscale. Empty bottles turret the tabletops. “BACK IN TIME!” KJ shouts. “Fucking Huey Lewis and the News!” “Fireworks over Riverbend Rally and jumping from motorboats and weed in the ditches. Camping and skinny-dipping when the […]

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Books + NF
2015-06-17 :: dave

Just seeing the word introvert threw me into despair. Was I an introvert? Wasn’t I? Didn’t I cry more than I laughed? Didn’t I spend all my time reading in my room? That was introverted behavior, wasn’t it? Introvert, introvert, I didn’t want to be an introvert. That was the last thing I wanted to […]

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NF
2015-06-03 :: dave

Before I started using next-door-neighbor Jim Black’s hunting trailer as a summertime teen hideout, the bulk of the sleepovers I had in the neighborhood growing up were at James Darne’s house. He lived up at the bottom of Fall Place, the older of two boys, and around about age 9 his parents gave him the […]

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NF
2015-02-17 :: dave

The other night I was listening to some journeyman reporter eulogize a dead NCAA coach on NPR. Here was his last line: We talk about a gentleman and a scholar, well he was a gentleman and a coach. This is such garbage writing, but it looks and sounds so good doesn’t it? Audiences get such […]

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NF
2014-11-19 :: dave

Got an email recently about Disquiet-Lisbon, an international literary program put on by Dzanc Books. There’s a contest you can enter to get a scholarship to go: one each in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Here’s a paragraph from the email: Guest judges are Aimee Bender (fiction) and Brenda Shaughnessy (poetry). The winning work in each […]

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Announcements + NF
2014-11-18 :: dave

I’m from Virginia. The first ever Virginia-based periodical I got published in was the Herndon Observer, where in high school I wrote an op-ed defending us students against something I’ve long since forgotten. My mom clipped it out. She might remember. That was in 1996. Then, nothing…until 2014, when Mary Washington College’s Rappahannock Review (named, […]

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Announcements + NF + Very Good Paragraphs
2014-11-14 :: dave

Why would someone bother memorizing two paragraphs from an old Joan Didion essay? Answers here and here. This is a post to say I’ve done it. Typed from memory, from what I like to think of as the center of Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”: Of course the activists—not those whose thinking had become rigid, but […]

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NF
2014-11-13 :: dave

Stay tuned, dear readers. I mean: Mom.

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NF
2014-10-23 :: dave

It was a wild coincidence that the day I derided what’s become its rallying cry to writers, The Rumpus publishes an essay of mine, but that’s how Monday unfurled. It’s called , and it’s about yarn art, essay-writing, my mom’s dad, and loss. A good amount of the behind-the-scenes stuff about writing the essay is […]

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NF
2014-10-20 :: dave

That’s the new president of my university: Fr. Paul Fitzgerald. He spoke yesterday with some of the Arts & Sciences faculty. Someone asked him about his teaching philosophy (Fr. Fitzgerald demanded he be given an appointment in the Theology and Religious Studies faculty). This isn’t a direct quote, but here’s what he said: Number one, […]

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NF
2014-09-25 :: dave

Taught Montaigne for the first time last night, and one thing we talked about was Montaigne’s comfortable doubt, which I got somewhat at in my last post. One student compared him with Tom Wolfe, interestingly. We read The Right Stuff last year, and she wanted to compare his style to Montaigne’s. No doubt there, she […]

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NF + Very Good Paragraphs
2014-01-21 :: dave

From “The State of Nonfiction Today”, the opening chapter in Phillip Lopate’s To Show and To Tell, a piece whose insight has saved me from having to write at least two different essays so far. This graf comes right after a lengthy one summing up George Steiner’s “Ten (Possible) Reasons for the Sadness of Thought”: […]

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