You might be a creative nonfiction workshop veteran if…

January 22, 2008

…you read this response to Joan Didion by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison and find yourself laughing uncontrollably every other sentence. Titled “Only Disconnect,” it’s like the perfect comeback a thousand times in a row. Ms. Didion has been a common topic in my CNF workshops, and while you can either love her, hate her, or alternate between the two, I think that you can say she has a distinctive style/set of prose tics, and Harrison captures that perfectly in her elegantly barbed skewering. After you laugh, though, you’ll think. Harrison has serious critiques of Didion’s writing, and they are critiques that seem worth consideration if you are a person who writes nonfiction. Thoughts concerning subject matter (“always herself”), seriousness of purpose (she uses “style as argument”), and finally, political committment within commitment to other human beings (“The pulsebeat from any breast, however armored, is felt, not just in private contracts — “doomed commitments” — between private persons, but in Selma, in Haight-Ashbury, in Vietnam, in South Africa, in East New York. Reports from those locations are also reports from the heart. And Didion’s heart is cold.”) are provocative and well-reasoned. It’s a welcome dispatch from a different point of view.

Thanks to person I’ve never met but only heard of and read about, Al Filreis, who wrote it up on his blog and posted the whole piece online. Thanks! This is the perfect antidote to a cranky Tuesday–smart cranky!


One Response to “You might be a creative nonfiction workshop veteran if…”

  1. Al Filreis Says:

    Glad you enjoyed the link.–AF

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