This semester, I’m taking a creative nonfiction class online, and one of the first questions posed by the instructor is, “What is creative nonfiction?” The assigned readings give a broad definition of the literary catchall with varying shades of gray, ranging from rigid rules to a more relaxed approach.
In an effort to define creative nonfiction for myself, I've been mulling over writers of the genre that I'm already familiar with for the past few days. The first name that comes to mind is Maya Angelou. When I read her writing, I feel like my soul has been turned inside out, but somehow I don't feel vulnerable. Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place is beyond inspirational. Then, there's David Sedaris, always quirky and giggle-inducing. I recently read Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson, and, unfortunately, all I can say about that is, every party needs a pooper. (Note to Mr. Swanson: Don't use "ersatz" six times in the same book. We'll all still know how smart you are if you throw in a couple of less expensive words like "makeshift" or "poor excuse for a _____" here and there.) It's a fairly eclectic bunch, and they make for a colorful neighborhood - even if Swanson is always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.
After scoping out the area for awhile, I’m glad that I’ve decided to rent a room here this semester. The neighbors are far from boring, and I really think I'm going to like it here. Who knows, maybe that cute little cottage down the street will open up, and I’ll become a permanent resident.
Yeah, now I know exactly what creative nonfiction is: it’s home.