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To Show and to Tell


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About the Author

Phillip Lopate is the author of more than a dozen books, including three personal essay collections, Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body, and Waterfront. He directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.


"At last--a reliable guide to the signature genre of the age. Phillip Lopate's tour of literary nonfiction includes brilliant and helpful considerations of the essay and memoir, placing them and their vexing questions in clear cultural context. Impossible now to imagine a nonfiction course that does not include To Show and To Tell in its syllabus. This is the rule book. But it's much more than a craft book for writers. It's a delight in itself, a fascinating exploration for readers, for anyone wondering why personally voiced nonfiction is so popular. The range is impressive, and the voice here is immediate, fresh, witty, winningly honest. An indispensible book."--Patricia Hampl "author of The Florist's Daughter"
"The work of a master, To Show and To Tell is beyond compare, for it embodies a poetics of literary nonfiction that takes into account all the crucial aspects, elements, and issues of the craft. Thus it's the essential text for anyone who seeks to enjoy, to understand, or to write nonfiction."--Carl H. Klaus "author of The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay"

Lopate (director, graduate nonfiction program, Columbia Univ.; The Art of the Personal Essay) offers here another title in what seems to be a whirlwind of recent publishing on creative nonfiction. His discussions and opinions primarily concern the personal essay as representative of the wider genre of literary nonfiction. Lopate is particularly successful in probing the psychological aspects of such factual, intimate writing. His advice is as ruminative and open-ended as the writing style he seeks to draw out of his students, a more philosophical and thought-provoking take on the craft of literary nonfiction than can be found in most of the other choices on this subject. The first part, "The Craft of Personal Narrative," contains the bulk of the text. Section two, "Studies of Practitioners," covers Lopate's favorite essayists, including Charles Lamb, Edward Hoagland, and James Baldwin. VERDICT Writers and teachers of the personal essay will certainly want this title. Others with a broader interest in literary nonfiction may opt for works presenting more of an overview, such as Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd's Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction or Lee Gutkind's Creative Nonfiction: How To Live It and Write It. [See Prepub Alert, 8/24/12.]-Stacey Rae Brownlie, Harrisburg Area Comm. Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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