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The Situation and the Story


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About the Author

Vivian Gornick's books include Fierce Attachments, Approaching Eye Level, and The End of the Novel of Love, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1998. She lives in New York City.


A celebrated critic on the specifics of creating a persuasive narrator in nonfiction. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

With her essays regularly appearing in high-profile periodicals, anthologies and partisan-attracting books like Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love, Gornick is one of a handful of nonfiction prose stylists whose work is instantly recognizable to the literati and crititocracy. Based on many years' teaching in a variety of creative writing programs, Gornick's book discusses ways of making nonfiction writing highly personal without being pathetically self-absorbed. In admirably plain and direct style, she discusses writers as diverse as Oscar Wilde, Joan Didion and a man she calls the "Jewish Joan Didion," Seymour Krim. Part of the virtue of this book is Gornick's wide-ranging reading, which comprises less-than-household names like Jean Amery, a Belgium-based Holocaust survivor, and the noted Italian author Natalia Ginzburg. By excerpting and condensing freely, she presents chosen texts in speedily absorbed format, which is useful for the primer-style approach here, even if some of the original authors might object to being Readers Digested in this manner. All the texts do nevertheless support her statement that essays can "be read the way poems and novels are read, inside the same kind of context, the one that enlarges the relationship between life and literature." (Sept.) Forecast: Poised for a warm embrace in writing programs and college seminars, this slim tome from a nonfiction master will undoubtedly inspire young writers, while Gornick's loyal fans will enjoy her unmistakable erudition and felicitous prose. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The Situation and the Story [is] an elegant, concise, unlocking of the mystery of personal narrative. It's changed my thinking already and should be on every writer's bookshelf." --Elaine Showalter, author of The Madwoman in the Attic "A wonderful illumination of some of the best and most moving writers of personal narrative, by a writer whose own graceful style and exemplary forthrightness make this a most rewarding book for both the college classroom and one's own favorite armchair." --Lydia Davis "Vivian Gornick is an extraordinary writer of personal narrative. In her articulate and compelling new book, we learn about the craft, about Gornick specifically, and about the writer's life generally. Her incisive and vivid blend of story and information conveys the essence and the challenge of the creative nonfiction genre and is an example of what the genre can do." --Lee Gutkind, author of The Art of Creative Nonfiction "Vivian Gornick writes with distilled wisdom and practiced accuracy. I trust her intuition absolutely." --Sven Birkert "We have long needed a book like this, which would put the field of creative non-fiction into thoughtful perspective, X-ray its secrets, and raise its standards. Vivian Gornick has done all that and more, producing a brilliant exegesis that is both analysis and exemplar of the difficult art of personal narrative. She brings a laser-like focus to her subject, while complicating it at every turn with moral nuance. The writing is both eloquent and elegant; the sentences have bite; the whole thing is an exhilarating read." --Phillip Lopate

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