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Golden Hour Books

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

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"A guide for those aspiring to write their own personal narrative [that goes] a long way toward sorting out . . . just what the genre is."

All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.

How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell? That is the question THE SITUATION AND THE STORY asks--and answers. Taking us on a reading tour of some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century, and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, and Marguerite Duras.

This book, which grew out of fifteen years teaching in M.F.A. programs--and won instant acclaim from writing teachers across the country--shows us how to write by showing us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.

The paperback edition includes a new guide for writers, teachers, and students, with exercises, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading.

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