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The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together

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"We live in an Enquirer, reality television-addled world, a world in which most college students receive their news from the Daily Show and discourse via text message," assert Charles Blackstone and Jill Talbot. "Recently, two nonfiction writers have been criticized for falsifying memoirs. Oprah excoriated James Frey on her show; Nasdijj was impugned by Sherman Alexie in T "We live in an Enquirer, reality television-addled world, a world in which most college students receive their news from the Daily Show and discourse via text message," assert Charles Blackstone and Jill Talbot. "Recently, two nonfiction writers have been criticized for falsifying memoirs. Oprah excoriated James Frey on her show; Nasdijj was impugned by Sherman Alexie in Time. Is our next trend in literature to lock down such boundaries among the literati? Or should we address the fictionalizing of nonfiction, the truth of fiction?" The Art of Friction surveys the borderlands where fiction and nonfiction intersect, commingle, and challenge genre lines. It anthologizes nineteen creative works by contemporary, award-winning writers including Junot Diaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, Thomas Beller, Bernard Cooper, Wendy McClure, and Terry Tempest Williams, who also provide companion pieces in which they comment on their work. These selections, which place short stories and personal essays (and hybrids of the two) side by side, allow readers to examine the similarities and differences between the genres, as well as explore the trends in genre overlap. Functioning as both a reader and a discussion of the craft of writing, The Art of Friction is a timely, essential book for all writers and readers who seek the truthfulness of lived experience through (non)fictions.


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"We live in an Enquirer, reality television-addled world, a world in which most college students receive their news from the Daily Show and discourse via text message," assert Charles Blackstone and Jill Talbot. "Recently, two nonfiction writers have been criticized for falsifying memoirs. Oprah excoriated James Frey on her show; Nasdijj was impugned by Sherman Alexie in T "We live in an Enquirer, reality television-addled world, a world in which most college students receive their news from the Daily Show and discourse via text message," assert Charles Blackstone and Jill Talbot. "Recently, two nonfiction writers have been criticized for falsifying memoirs. Oprah excoriated James Frey on her show; Nasdijj was impugned by Sherman Alexie in Time. Is our next trend in literature to lock down such boundaries among the literati? Or should we address the fictionalizing of nonfiction, the truth of fiction?" The Art of Friction surveys the borderlands where fiction and nonfiction intersect, commingle, and challenge genre lines. It anthologizes nineteen creative works by contemporary, award-winning writers including Junot Diaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, Thomas Beller, Bernard Cooper, Wendy McClure, and Terry Tempest Williams, who also provide companion pieces in which they comment on their work. These selections, which place short stories and personal essays (and hybrids of the two) side by side, allow readers to examine the similarities and differences between the genres, as well as explore the trends in genre overlap. Functioning as both a reader and a discussion of the craft of writing, The Art of Friction is a timely, essential book for all writers and readers who seek the truthfulness of lived experience through (non)fictions.

47 review for The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    While the po-mo "it's-all-fiction" elements of this book rubbed me the wrong way (no pun intended), I enjoyed many of the contributions in this anthology. The essays/memoirs/short stories from Bernard Cooper, Junot Diaz, Marcia Douglas, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Lynda Shor are particularly strong. Julia Frey's essay-in-footnotes on her late husband's short story, inspired by a vacation in Bali, is fascinating. The short story itself is tiresome. Hey, rich gringos, you don't need to tell us that While the po-mo "it's-all-fiction" elements of this book rubbed me the wrong way (no pun intended), I enjoyed many of the contributions in this anthology. The essays/memoirs/short stories from Bernard Cooper, Junot Diaz, Marcia Douglas, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Lynda Shor are particularly strong. Julia Frey's essay-in-footnotes on her late husband's short story, inspired by a vacation in Bali, is fascinating. The short story itself is tiresome. Hey, rich gringos, you don't need to tell us that it's hot near the equator. You don't need to be surprised that cross-cultural complexities are lost on you. If this is all you get out of your carbon-burning trip to Bali, do us all a favor and stay home. If you can't bring yourself to stay home, please, keep the non-revelations to yourself. As for the overall premise of THE ART OF FRICTION: Yes, I agree that we all live different truths, but NO, not all nonfictions are created equal. Research is research and reporting is reporting. If you don't want to do it, then don't, but please, don't assume/assert those who do are somehow self-deluded. In the end, I agree with my teacher / colleague Mark Kramer, who likes to say, "Do whatever you want, just make sure your reader knows what you are doing."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Ensign

    This is an intriguing collection of various author's short pieces of writing, accompanied by their commentary on what their writing "is" or "is not" in terms of the fiction/non-fiction oftentimes false and blurry divide. My favorite essay in this collection is Marjorie Sandor's "Rhapsody in Green." And her commentary, including this: "In my experience, genre is not the question that matters when the fire of a particular piece is beginning to burn. I personally try not to ask 'what are you?' for This is an intriguing collection of various author's short pieces of writing, accompanied by their commentary on what their writing "is" or "is not" in terms of the fiction/non-fiction oftentimes false and blurry divide. My favorite essay in this collection is Marjorie Sandor's "Rhapsody in Green." And her commentary, including this: "In my experience, genre is not the question that matters when the fire of a particular piece is beginning to burn. I personally try not to ask 'what are you?' for as long as I can stand. My job, when I begin to draft something, is to overcome my own self-consciousness, and this means keeping my balance on a sort of tightrope over the abyss of definite answers. That is, I'm trying to keep from nagging myself about what's been successful for other people, or worked in the past for me, or what objections an editor might raise. If I fall off the the tightrope, or out of the partial trance of good concentration, this place where rhythm and image are the reigning deities, I might not get back to the place where the surprises wait, this other, deliciously darker abyss—of stories, true or not." p. 169 That is some seriously mixed metaphors, yet I resonate with what she has to say.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    While there were some stronger stories toward the beginning of this book, I was just bored with the majority of "friction" stories in the middle and towards the end. It is an interesting read for writers as I usually found the writers' commentaries more meaningful than the stories. My recommendation is to use this as a reference guide - read the stories that interest you, but don't bother reading it cover to cover. To all writers out there, definitely read the afterword! The commentators can see While there were some stronger stories toward the beginning of this book, I was just bored with the majority of "friction" stories in the middle and towards the end. It is an interesting read for writers as I usually found the writers' commentaries more meaningful than the stories. My recommendation is to use this as a reference guide - read the stories that interest you, but don't bother reading it cover to cover. To all writers out there, definitely read the afterword! The commentators can seem a little self-aggrandizing at times, but a lot of what they said was very insightful and fascinating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This anthology explores the territory between non-fiction and fiction, including short stories and autobiographical essays and mixes of the the two. As someone who likes non-fiction to be factual, I wasn't so sure about this concept, but the author commentary on each piece helped out greatly in shining a light on what was true (as the author saw it) and what was fictionalized. A couple commentaries did stray too far into high falutin' academic analysis for my taste, so I skimmed those.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    It is now clear to me that I prefer fiction over friction. The premise of f(r)iction is intriguing, but I found the actual thematic content to be dry. My favourite essays were "Trickle-Down Timeline," by Cris Mazza, "Beyond the Border of Love," by Maryanne O'Hara, and "Interrupted Reading," by Lance Olsen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A solid anthology that contains works that explore the intersections of fact and fiction (creative nonfiction and fiction). This anthology also contains many great critical essays exploring the controversies and art of these intersections. A book that I want to add to my personal collection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hadassah

  9. 4 out of 5

    Grant

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Parssinen

  11. 4 out of 5

    Time Out Chicago Books

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Roney

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lennard

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Francis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy Houck

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sasha S.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ned Vizzini

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Perry

  25. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily Ruth

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela

  30. 4 out of 5

    University of Texas Press

  31. 4 out of 5

    Dan Petrella

  32. 4 out of 5

    rejop

  33. 5 out of 5

    Nichole Bushman

  34. 4 out of 5

    Martin Gloger

  35. 5 out of 5

    Carl Macki

  36. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  37. 4 out of 5

    Gwendolyn Jerris

  38. 5 out of 5

    Cari

  39. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  40. 5 out of 5

    Elise Burns

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Jackson Berry

  42. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Christofus blackstone

  43. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  44. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Dugan

  45. 5 out of 5

    Buried In Print

  46. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Anderson

  47. 5 out of 5

    Amber Shockley

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