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Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  475 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
From memoir to journalism, personal essays to cultural criticism - this unique, indispensable anthology brings together fifty unforgettable works from all genres of creative nonfiction. Selected by five hundred writers, English professors, and creative writing teachers from across the country, this collection includes only the most highly regarded nonfiction work published ...more
ebook, 576 pages
Published December 11th 2007 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 2007)
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Elizabeth
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is my faborite of the CNF anthologies right now. I love Lex Williford's into.
Leann
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent resource for the best in short contemporary non-fiction. the essays range from harrowing and horrible, angry, seedy, alarming, uncomfortable, contemplative, out of control, menacing, to loving, sad, joyous, enchanting. what do they have in common? these essays are living, breathing works of art, and uncannily well written. highly recommend.
Jacqueline Doyle
I teach with this book and love the essays. My only criticism is that there are very few writers who aren't white. I have to supplement the readings with online essays. I wish they would do a second edition.
1.1
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very strong anthology with many excellent essays, though at first the 'personal memoir' style was strong and had me thinking I would be turned off by overly intimate or sentimental pieces, the quality of writing was so excellent that I could not hold any objection for long. A few pieces fell flat for me, but that's bound to happen in a collection of this size. That said, there are many standouts that I considered particularly masterful, such as Jamaica Kincaid's 'A Small Place' - a sub ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I’ve been reading on this book, a dab at a time, all summer. It was the required reading for my personal essay writing class this summer. I went to look for it at B&N and it wasn’t there. I was happy to find I could download it, immediately, on my Kindle. An excellent use of my Kindle, as I could carry it with me to Utah and read it while waiting for an oil change and even just before I went to sleep. I had no idea the book had 576 pages; on the Kindle, all books feel equally light.

So what
...more
Grace Linde
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for class--lots of good material! Each essay is its own, covering every genre of CNF. If you like true stories with powerful themes, you will enjoy these highly skilled writers.
Jillian
Oct 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two words: writer's envy.
Kennedy Kaufman
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book I will keep close to me the rest of my life. So many good short stories, to be picked up and read at any moment.
Jake
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely incredible collection of essays. Nearly every one is amazing. This would be a collection worth buying, because each essay is so wildly touching, insightful, intense, unique, and thought-provoking. I'm really glad I read this, and I'm looking forward to reading another collection of creative non-fiction.
Lona (Windowsill Books)
I read this anthology for my creative writing class. I am not a huge fan of creative non-fiction. I definitely prefer fiction. Though, I did enjoy the variety in styles of writing that were included in this anthology as well as the variety in topics.
Abigail
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of short essays.
Sarah
An eclectic collection of some good and not-so-good essays (in my opinion)
Courtney
I started reading this years and years ago when I took Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction as an undergrad. I don't like to leave (good) books unfinished, so I kept this by my bed forever and would pick at it every once in a while. At once point, it was swapped with a friend while I borrowed his copy of The Screwtape Letters.

This collection is absolutely wonderful.

Yes, it's an anthology/textbook/long mess, but it is certainly worth a read, even if you open it at random to choose a story willy-
...more
Abhishek
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I did not finish this book. I read the first 200 pages and then decided to not read anymore. The essays are almost all very well written and are unique in their style. The Torch Song by Charles Bowden stood out for its powerful writing. However, overall the essays have a dark undertone to them. They speak of morbid subjects and a depraved humanity. I found them shocking, mildly entertaining, insightful on occasion but for the most part draining. I do not quite know why we as humanity equate good ...more
Stefanie
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were several really great essays in this collection, and as an essayist, I got a lot of instruction and ideas for my own nonfiction writing. There were a handful that I didn't much care for, but that's almost always the case when it comes to large collections. I'd definitely recommend for writers and teachers as well as nonfiction readers.

My one gripe is with all anthologies that use a random organizational structure, like alphabetical order. It's probably great for people who like to skip
...more
Cyndi
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
Wide assortment of essays ranging from humorous to tragic. Some were page turners and some were skipped over as either I couldn't relate or were too horrible to grasp. I found humor, spiritual, intellectual, thought-provoking and disturbing messages throughout. I especially enjoyed phrases that portrayed the author's thoughts in an almost tangible manner that brought words on paper to life. I will re-read some of them in a year or so to see if they change meaning.
Ann Sosnowski
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this. And it didn't disappoint. This was my go-to read when I only had time to read an essay instead of picking up the current novel I was trudging through. The diversity of writers, topics and styles was refreshing and made me think creatively. Highly recommended as a straightthrough read as well as something to go back to time and time again.
Mary Cartledgehayes
A brilliant collection of recent essays, chosen from nominations by teaching writers. Jo Ann Beard's "The Fourth State of Matter" is gorgeous and wrenching. Also wonderful: Lucy Grealy, Dinty W. Moore (a friend), Naomi Shihab Nye, Sara Levine, and a Barry Lopez essay that made up for the long, slow slog it took me to get through Arctic Dreams.
Ryan
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology seems to have more than its share of good stuff. Which tells you a lot about most anthologies.

Big favorites, by author last name: Biss, Blew, Bowden, Cooper, Cox, Doty, Earley, Hemley, Kooser, Levy, Martin, Purpura, Selzer, Strayed.

A lot others I could have included. Everything in here is worth reading. Great textbook for an essay writing class.
Justin
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know what creative non-fiction was until three months ago, and I can happily say it has become one of my favorite genres. This collection is full of great essays, my favorites being "In Search of Marvin Gardens" and "The Fourth State of Matter". Some are long, some are short... all should be read :)
Jennifer
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love collections/anthologies. And am glad to get in more nonfiction. Stand out essays for me were by Charles Bowden, Cheryl Strayed, Anthony Farrington, Philip Lopate, Bill Roorbach, Kelly Grey Carlisle, Eula Bliss, and Lucy Grealy. Powerful pieces and a great array of inspiring work.
David LeGault
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solid anthology that covers a wide spectrum of nonfiction, including a bunch of classics and some newer, weird stuff. We used it in the nonfiction workshop, and I would probably use it if I was teaching a nonfiction course myself.
Joe
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching, essays
A strong anthology, perhaps the nicest selection I've come across in 10 years of teaching creative nonfiction. But it also reveals the problem of an anthology—the pieces feel encased in amber and dated already.
Judith
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whoa, read how the editors chose these titles and you'll see why my writing instructor in Denver uses it and why I'm loving it!
Every author has a different strength/approach, usually brilliantly conceived on the page...
T
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ryan van meter takes the cake.
Edward Montalvo
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great selection of Nonfiction essays. What made me pursue a concentration in Nonfiction essays.
Colleen S Harris
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: autobiography fans, memoir fans, CNF writers, CNF readers,
One of the best collections of essays I've seen in a long time. Heavy on the narrative selections, but I'll be using this to teach my undergraduate CNF workshop in Fall 2012.
Joan
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some excellent essays in this volume. The editors asked teachers which essays they like to teach; it would have been nice to have a few comments on what aspects of each essay got them chosen.
Alyssa
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite anthology.
Liz D
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
This is a really solid collection, with essays that vary a great deal in style, subject matter, and accessibility.
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“The essay is a modest genre. It doesn't mean to change the world. Instead it says: let me tell you what happened to me.” 3 likes
“We all share a biology and deep drives, and what we have created---civilization, courtesy, decency---is a mesh that comes from those drives and also contains and tames them. Whatever feels good is not necessarily good. But what I learn is whatever is bad is not necessarily alien to me. Or to you.” 2 likes
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