Understanding Creative Nonfiction

Truman Capote, as photographed by Roger Higgin...

Truman Capote (1959)

What is creative nonfiction?

In the early 60s, books like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test transformed journalism by incorporating fact-based narrative with the finest elements of fiction.The stories also differed from reportage because the authors deliberately abandoned all pretense of objectivity and explored the impact the events had on their own lives as much as they did on the subjects about whom they wrote.  Creative nonfiction has since expanded to include memoir, personal essays, and travel or spiritual narratives. Today’s best practitioners include Joan Didion, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Dillard, David Sedaris, and Sarah Vowell, many of whom also regularly write novels, plays or other literary works.

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About Sandi Sonnenfeld

Sandi Sonnenfeld is a fiction writer and essayist. Her memoir, This Is How I Speak (2002: Impassio Press), which recounts how her views about what it means to be a woman in contemporary America changed after suffering a dangerous sexual assault, was a Booksense 76 finalist. With the memoir’s publication, she was named a 2002 Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, which recognizes writers whose work merits special notice. Sandi has published more than two-dozen short stories and essays in Sojourner, Voices West, Hayden’s Ferry Review, ACM, Raven Chronicles, Necessary Fiction, Perigee, Revolution House and The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review among others. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sandi holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Washington, where she won the Loren D. Milliman Writing Fellowship. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and the world’s most perfect cat.