Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Creative Non-Fiction (asked to continue subscription)

Magazines can suffocate time. Which of them shall I read, cover to cover? My subscription to National Geographic, Psychology Today, Science Digest, and Creative Non-Fiction notwithstanding, there is the daily paper, the many books I like to read, the Time magazine, Harpers, the New Yorker, and the list goes on. When does one write? When does one go to the opera? When does one paint, practice the guitar, perform or direct with a theatre company, promote one's novels, take care of business, teach others, and breathe? And so what if others seem to find the time?

We humans are inundated with more media than we possibly can ingest. A child of fourteen has seen more in his years than I, a child of the 50's, saw by the time I was thirty. As a Northern Rhodesian I lived a boyhood age where a ride in a motor-car was a distinct privilege, a book readily available was rare, the telephone was on a party line with no privacy, and in South Africa there was no television (until I was into my mid twenties). I was starved for literature until a teenager, when the library and bookstores and magazines became more and more readily available. I recall when the paperback book was still a novel concept. And I found everything and anything interesting, much to the dismay of South Africa's sense of sensibilities, especially among adults. But despite strict codes of what could and what should be read, some literature slipped through the boarding school cracks under doors, arrived in locked down suitcases, and was surreptitiously read by flashlight while under the covers. Words change lives.

Creative non-fiction has a distinct voice. It drives the reader by the seat of his pants down a highway of purpose, or why bother telling the story at all? As a parable, as a journey of import, the writer and the reader become willingly locked in a marriage of convenience, the purpose of which is to have validity and meaning given not only to the extraordinary, but also to the mundane. As a collection of essays such a magazine has great significance for our times, but it takes the highly literate, the 'edumacated' (as my father would scoff) to appreciate the waft and weave in its tapestry. And given that it does not get straight to the point, is not actual-factual, it is an art form for an acquired taste. Students of writing do well to learn from its expectations. Readers of writing do well do appreciate its form. Writers of writing do well not too tightly to comply to its dictates. Truth, after all, is said to be stranger than fiction; but in my observations, truth for truth's sake can come across as rather clunky. Embellish a yarn in the imperfections of memory and almost invariably we have a mesmerizing canvas. "I want to know Gods thoughts," Einstein is reported to have said, "the rest are details." (I’m convinced he left out the apostrophe.)

The one-page essay format that is my own predilection of purposefulness, my practice of promulgating parables, consumes much of my Blog. Some of the longer essays, each an exercise in creative non-fiction, have garnered much favor. Take ‘Dove’, ‘Baboons’, ‘Crocodile Tears’, or ‘Bravery By Another Name’, for example. But to afford the time to read all the magazines to which I subscribe, and by continuing with a subscription to curtail my interests in so many other things, would be to stifle my potential indeed. We have so much to see and do; some of us can but nibble at the smorgasbord in the passage of our progress. A sample? Go nibble at the links to my fares and wares, if you will, please, at: Then respond to me, and why, I’ll get back to you, and thus we too will have ourselves a communication! Fictional,or not; there's a truth in the interpretation. Read!

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