Two “Required Reading” columns up at Creative Nonfiction

I’m pleased to announce that I have two “Required Reading” columns in Creative Nonfiction:

CNF Marriage cover

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s often said that no one really knows what goes on inside a marriage except for the people who are in it—and I would argue that sometimes they don’t know, either. It takes a certain kind of honesty—and bravery—to talk (let alone write) about the inner workings of one’s own marriage. Perhaps for this reason, most of the stories we hear and read about marriage are told by outsiders, writers of fiction or biography who stand removed from its core.

But I suspect nonfiction can get us closer to the fascinating questions at the heart of any marriage—why two people come together, why one might stray, why one might stay, and why, in some cases, the couple splits.

Six recent books of creative nonfiction meet these challenges full on. They tell courtship stories, marriage stories, stories of affairs and divorces. But what I found most interesting about these books is that they also tell stories about storytelling itself, thinking hard about the way we think, talk, and write about marriage—to ourselves, to each other, and to others.


In this column I ask notable nonfiction writers like Leslie Jamison, Ira Sukrungruang, Sarah Einstein, Steven Church, Zoe Zolbrod, Dinty Moore, and Megan Stielstra about their favorite nonfiction books from childhood and how these books may have influenced them as writers.

For me, it was The Young Detective’s Handbook, by William Vivian Butler, which had the intoxicating subtitle Learn How to Be a Super Sleuth: Send Secret Messages, Lift Fingerprints, Create Disguises, and More . . . . This book taught essential detecting skills, encouraged the formation of young-detective clubs to pool knowledge and maximize crime-solving success, and combined playful exercises with real-life tales of kids who cracked cases with little more than a pencil and their wits. It taught me, an only child with an overreaching sense of curiosity, to be observant, to pay attention, to remember, to investigate, and to write it all down. I never forgot. And these are the same tools I use to write creative nonfiction today.

Thanks for reading!

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