Monday, March 29, 2010

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore’s memoir Between Panic & Desire (University of Nebraska) was winner of the 2009 Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize.

His other books include The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, and the writing guide, The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Moore has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues.

He has won numerous awards for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. He directs Ohio University's BA, MA, and PhD in Creative Writing program.

A week or so ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am currently reading Philip Graham’s The Moon, Come to Earth, a fascinating blend of travel writing and family memoir set in Lisbon. I love the way the book refuses to limit itself to one mode or the other, and how Graham’s various turns and twists eventually combine to make a whole much greater than the sum of the parts. He is also just a clear, enjoyable, funny writer.

Like everyone else in the nonfiction world, I’m also reading and re-sampling David Shields’ Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. Shields argues that the novel is dead, that the modern audience’s thirst for “reality” has lifted nonfiction to a new prominence, and advocates for an expanded definition of nonfiction. “Genre is a minimum-security prison,” he writes. “All great works found a genre or dissolve one. “ I find myself agreeing with about half of what he says, and disagreeing with about half, but the book is sharp, controversial, and provocative.

Just finished Steven Church’s The Day After “The Day After”: My Atomic Angst, a quirky hybrid memoir that chronicles a childhood spent in Lawrence, Kansas, chosen as the central locale for the iconic 1980s apocalyptic TV movie, “The Day After.” Church expands his story outward, and in the end he captures what it felt like for all us who grew up during the Cold War.

Finally, I’ve just started re-reading Lauren Slater’s Lying, a book I was determined to hate but which still fascinates me. Yes, the illness at the center of her “memoir” is metaphor not actual, but she pulls it off, exquisitely, and the careful reader understands precisely what she is doing.
Visit Dinty Moore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue