The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

Vivian Gornick
Published in 2002
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“To fashion a persona out of one’s own undisguised self is no easy thing,” writes Vivian Gornick in The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative. “A novel or a poem provides invented characters or speaking voices that act as surrogates for the writer. The persona in a nonfiction narrative is an unsurrogated one.” In this seminal craft book on the art of writing nonfiction, Gornick makes visible and practical the task of casting one’s self into a personal narrative. Using experience from decades of teaching in MFA programs, the renowned critic and memoirist offers examples from the works of luminaries such as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, and Marguerite Duras. Through intimate and lucid prose, this book provides guidance on how to identify truth in the words one reads and writes. 


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