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In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  212 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Something is going on out there. Almost simultaneously, many of our finest writers are experimenting with a new nonfiction form: brief pieces that are literary and personal rather than informational, complete in themselves, and short—very short. Although the form has not had a name until now, the writers who are attracted to it include the known—Tim O'Brien, Barry Lopez, T ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton Company (first published July 1996)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 14, 2017 El rated it really liked it
Recommended to El by: Coworker Nicole
Consider this research.

My coworker friend brought this for me to read when we both decided that we were going to apply to the MFA program at the university where we work. She is planning on concentrating on fiction and I made the somewhat bizarre choice to make my concentration on creative nonfiction. She remembered this book from her college days and brought it for me, and I'm glad that she did.

This collection is filled with "brief" creative nonfiction essays. "Brief" means just that - these ar
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 21, 2014 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
I would not recommend reading this volume the way I did - several short pieces in a row without a break. These kinds of very short pieces are better enjoyed when you can read each one multiple times and savor them between other things. It is because of my method that I discovered how carefully the editors assembled the shorts, how one follows another in theme or one small detail that carries over. Brilliant, but I found it hard to connect with some of them. I think when you put a bunch of short ...more
penny shima glanz
Jul 29, 2008 penny shima glanz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: emerging writers, readers, everyone
Recommended to penny by: Britt
How do I review a book I enjoyed so much that moments after reading through it once I immediately started back on some of the shorts I really enjoyed and found inspiration from?

what words can I choose to describe a book that proves to me that essays need not be the length of the average New Yorker article to be powerful?

The essays chosen and the order they were laid out (which the editors stress is not the way one needs to read them in) left me with a braid of stories, of thoughts, of words whic
Abe Brennan
May 17, 2007 Abe Brennan rated it liked it
The premise behind this collection is that, for whatever reason, a collective effort at compression in nonfiction has suddenly occurred. The editors note that in some ways this is nothing new (E.B. White, among others, penned short essays decades ago), but they are convinced that a cultural trend is developing, one spurred, at least in part, by the frenetic advances of our technological age and their effect on our attention spans. This trend, they claim, results in writers producing various snip ...more
Rena Sherwood
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: creative non-fiction is great.

But this book is not.

Why? Partly because In Short is too freakin' long.


There are 90 selections and at least 35 could have been cut out as being what they are -- vastly inferior to the rest of the book. Those 35 to 40 selections fall into these categories:

* those that are actually edited from longer works -- and you really need to read the longer work in order to get the full impact
* those that are written in a choppy yet pret
Aug 15, 2011 Myles rated it it was amazing
I'm not so sure about the editors' assertion about there being a mass movement towards the 'short' in non-fiction writing, but they make for excellent reading.

The styles vary as drastically as the quality, like any collection. There are two ways of reading this, one being to flip back and forth, picking and choosing at will in any particular order. That was how I first read this as part of a class, each of us picking several stories over the course of the semester to either read out loud or (for
Nov 23, 2013 James rated it really liked it
As is to be expected with collections of any genre of litersture there is quite a diverse spread of stories, diverse in style, subject and my appreciation.

There are some genuinely beautiful pieces as the stories wend there way alongh a loosely contrived journey.

I started reading this with the misconception that it would be simple, what with it being a book of short writings. It is quite an intense read as ideas, cultures, observations and emotions are thrown at you at a quite dizzying pace.

It wa
Demisty Bellinger
Dec 04, 2008 Demisty Bellinger rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Folks who want to read nonfic, but don't want to read a memoir
Recommended to Demisty by: Creative nonfiction professor
Creative nonfiction's answer to flash fiction (or short-shorts or whatever you want to call them). There are some big names here, like Maxine Kumin, Tobias Wolff, Michael Ondaatje, Joy Harjo, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Rita Dove, Sherman Alexie, and many more. And these are really short selections! The longest piece is probably around five pages. It'll make a great bathroom reader.
Mellodi Parks
Sep 07, 2014 Mellodi Parks rated it it was amazing
In short, (ha that wasn't intentional at first, but I am leaving it there.) I loved every one of these essays. It shows the true form of how these types of works are written and also why these writers are indeed good a what they do.
Jun 27, 2012 Nicole rated it it was ok
Was looking for nonfiction to use with my regular-level high school students. I wasn't able to find anything useful in here so far. I'm looking for something of high interest, am this is disappointing so far.
Titus Hjelm
Jul 29, 2011 Titus Hjelm rated it it was ok
I'm fascinated by the genre, but somehow this collection didn't quite carry it to the end. Might be my dislike of nature writing, but also perhaps shorts should be enjoyed in limited quantities. Just a thought...
Sep 05, 2012 Jolie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
There are quite a few gems in this collection of short (less than 2,000 words) essays that cover a wide variety of topics from top notch writers. Highly recommended, for both the lovely writing and the insight they provide. Thanks, Christopher! :)
Jul 29, 2014 Steven rated it really liked it
Most of the authors delivered true artistry with their short nonfiction work in this collection. The choice of words and story architecture had to be perfect in order to render a story in a limited number of words.
Hannah Jane
I gave this 5 stars because of Pico Iyer's "In Praise of the Humble Comma," which is hands down the best essay I have ever read.

I also greatly enjoyed the rest of it as well.
Aug 19, 2012 Eleanor rated it really liked it
Beautiful language, but it was hard to discern the point of some essays.
Susan Gomperts
Aug 29, 2015 Susan Gomperts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Really? Just a treasure of a book. Amazing how so much can be conveyed in just a page or two. Some of these stories actually made me cry. A keeper!
Aug 11, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it
These are excellent, short essays. Impressive.
Laurel Jones
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Dec 26, 2014
Cody Luff
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Elisabeth Kinsey
Elisabeth Kinsey rated it it was amazing
Oct 14, 2014
Julieanne Mcclain
Julieanne Mcclain rated it it was ok
Sep 07, 2011
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Dec 25, 2012
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May 13, 2017
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Jen rated it it was amazing
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