The Situation and the Story

The Situation and the Story

The Art of Personal Narrative

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
The author of Fierce Attachments and other books teaches readers how to cultivate the art of journaling to create a personal narrative that can work in both memoir writing and fiction.

Book News
Covering both the personal essay and the memoir, writer Vivian Gornick discusses the differences between a successful and a failed work of personal nonfiction, drawing on well-known and obscure essayists to provide insight into the psychology of writing and to clarify the process itself. 5.5x7.75
How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the reliable narrator who will tell the story that needs to be told? That is the question The Situation and the Story asks, and answers. Using some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Vivian Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, and Oscar Wilde.
This book, which grew out of fifteen years of teaching in M.F.A. programs, is itself a model of the lucid intelligence that has made Gornick one of our most admired writers of nonfiction. In it, she teaches us to write by teaching us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.

& Taylor

The author teaches readers how to cultivate the art of journaling to create a personal narrative that can work in both memoir writing and fiction.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374167332
Characteristics: 165 p. ; 20 cm


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Aug 05, 2018

Probably the best book on how to write and how to read narrative non-fiction. It's better than any class, deeper and more illustrative than other books on the subject, and clear, interesting, and you can't help but find yourself quoting from it in random conversations.

The situation isn't the story - this is the first big insight. There's who is speaking and what is being said, and the relation between the two. What is driving the writer? Not the situation. The story isn't that the writer found herself in some horrible marriage or disastrous situation. That's, again, the situation. What does the narrator do with this situation? Who is the narrator and why is she speaking? As V.S. Pritchett is quoted, "It's all in the art. You get no credit for living."

And this book is art, learning to understand and, if it is your motive, learning to do it well.


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