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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Lee Gutkind, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Southern Sin: Review and Giveaway

Anthologies are always a treat, introducing us to dozens of authors thoughts on one theme. And what theme could be more multi-faceted than sin, specifically southern sin? Dorothy Allison gives you a peek at what Southern Sin has to offer in her introduction. "Sin dances words across the page, telling all those lies that sound like truths, and disguising terrible truths in a language we want desperately to believe."

Southern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South and Women Behaving Badly

Editors: Lee Gutkind and Beth Ann Fennelly

Paperback: 350 pages

Publisher: In Fact Books (March 18, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1937163105

ISBN-13: 978-1937163105


In the steamy South, temptation is as wild and plentiful as kudzu.

Whether the sin in question is skinny-dipping or becoming an unlikely porn star, running rum or renting out a room to a pair of exhibitionistic adulterers, in these true stories women defy tradition and forge their own paths through life—often learning unexpected lessons from the experience.

As Dorothy Allison writes in her introduction, “The most dangerous stories are the true ones, the ones we hesitate to tell, the adventures laden with fear or shame or the relentless pull of regret. Some of those are about things that we are secretly deeply proud to have done.”

A diverse array of contributors—mothers, daughters, sisters, best friends, fiancées, divorcees, professors, poets, lifeguards-in-training, lapsed Baptists, tipsy debutantes, middle-aged lesbians—lend their voices to this collection. Introspective and abashed, joyous and triumphant (but almost never apologetic), they remind us that sin, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.


Let me be upfront and tell you that I am a tried and true Yankee. My experience with southern sin is limited to several readings of Gone with the Wind and a college boyfriend who hailed from the great state of Georgia. So let me just say, "Goodness gracious." The heat and humidity must do something to these people!

True, there are several hot and heavy essays on sin of the sexual nature but don't assume this is an anthology of erotica. The surprising part of this anthology is that explores so many other facets of sin. Gluttony, envy, coveting your neighbor's husband. Sin in past centuries, just considering the possibility of sin, the joy of sin, catching a glimpse of another's sin.

Southern Sin contains twenty-three essays that run the gamut of less than virtuous behavior. You'll find yourself rushing through the pages, wondering what's next. But aside from giving you a bit of vicarious thrill at witnessing all this misbehaving, Southern Sin will make you think. What is sin? Is there a universal definition? Is sin different for each person? Considering sin and doing sin...where is the line? Is it a sin to make people feel guilty for the joy they find in life? It's a fascinating subject to consider.

Where to Find More Southern Sin:



One luck reader will win a copy of the anthology Southern Sin. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.

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Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Right now she's looking for blogs to promote Sue William Silverman's memoir The Pat Boone Fan Club and Barbara Barth's debut novel The Danger with Words. You can contact her at [email protected]. For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb.

0 Comments on Southern Sin: Review and Giveaway as of 3/19/2014 4:45:00 AM
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2. Creative Nonfiction: How Creative (Um. . . UNTRUTHFUL) Can You Get?

As the popularity of creative nonfiction increases, the genre brings up an interesting debate: is every word supposed to be true? If events are recorded in a memoir, were they supposed to happen just that way? If a writer is investigating a true crime, is it okay for her to make up dialogue between the criminals if she gets really close to what was probably said?  Recently, I read the book: You Can't Make This Stuff Up by Lee Gutkind, who is the editor and founder of Creative Nonfiction magazine. The book discusses what creative nonfiction is, provides popular examples done well, and instructs writers how to create a nonfiction piece.

Creative nonfiction is a nonfiction story that is told with fiction elements: dialogue, setting details, scenes, characterization (of real people), and so on.That's where the creative part is supposed to come in--not in the facts but in HOW the facts are revealed.

Part one of Lee's book would be interesting to anyone who loves to read and discuss what they read. The author writes about some of the most infamous cases of writers who claimed to write a true, nonfiction account of their lives; when in all actuality, it was false—sometimes the entire story made up.

The account most people know about is James Frey and his book, A Million Little Pieces, since Oprah chose it as one of her book club selections. Because of her recommendation, two million copies of his book sold, and Frey became a household name. Then it was discovered that most of his story was completely untrue. He did more than make up some dialogue or create a composite character for simplicity sake--Frey lied.

This is one of the extreme examples that Gutkind discusses in his book during the ethics section; but there are actually more writers (more than I realized!) that fudge the truth just a bit. But still, they claim that they write creative nonfiction. For example, David Sedaris admits that because he writes humor based on his life, that sometimes he must exaggerate or make up dialogue to get a laugh. Some of the funny lines in Naked? Completely fabricated!

John Berendt made up dialogue and rearranged the story chronology in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil!  Several people from Frank McCourt's home town claim that he didn't exactly tell the whole truth in Angela's Ashes, and they state they've found over 100 discrepancies.

A good example of the genre
On his blog and in his book, Gutkind writes that he can accept some "exaggerating an event or situation, or compressing time periods, or creating composite characters" and that it "may possibly help a nonfiction writer make his or her point more effectively—although I believe this is only rarely truly necessary."

It’s a crucial decision for writers to make if they are going to tackle the genre: are they going to tell the truth without embellishments?

Personally, I was disappointed when reading this section of Lee's book--so many writers don't stick to the 100 percent truth. But then I thought maybe it's really difficult to do this--I don't write much in this genre, so maybe I don't know. I have written some essays, and I have included dialogue, and I think I have the dialogue right; but it's as I remember it--so who knows for sure?

How do you feel about this issue? How much of a creative nonfiction piece is it okay to "make up"? If you write memoir or creative nonfiction, do you create dialogue or make up characters, etc, to smooth transitions? As a reader, how do you trust the writer?

I started thinking that perhaps books should say on the cover: Based On a True Story--just like many movies do. . .

Margo L. Dill edits, blogs, writes, and teaches for WOW! Women On Writing. To view her upcoming classes in spring and summer (writing for children/teens, writing short fiction, writing a children's/YA novel), please visit the WOW! classroom: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

7 Comments on Creative Nonfiction: How Creative (Um. . . UNTRUTHFUL) Can You Get?, last added: 4/9/2013
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3. Creative Nonfiction Magazine Launches Book Imprint

Creative Nonfiction magazine will launch a book imprint called Creative Nonfiction Books. The imprint will debut with two titles in the spring.

Creative Nonfiction Books’ initial projects will include several essay anthologies “offering multiple perspectives and appealing to a diverse readership.” Three essay collections are planned so far: Becoming a Nurse, Surviving Crisis and Southern Sin. Publishers Group West will handle the distribution.

Founder/editor Lee Gutkind had this statement in the press release: “Now, with the traditional publishing industry in turmoil, we see opportunities for a small publisher with a well-established base. Creative Nonfiction has a long history of spotting talent and of introducing new writers who have important stories to tell. The book imprint offers the opportunity to expand our reach—and to help those writers, and their stories, find a wider audience.”

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