The situation and the story

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the situation and the story

The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick

A guide to the art of personal writing, by the author of Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love

All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the I who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.

How does one pull from ones own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell? That is the question The Situation and the Story asks--and answers. Taking us on a reading tour of some of the best memoirs and essays of the past hundred years, Gornick traces the changing idea of self that has dominated the century, and demonstrates the enduring truth-speaker to be found in the work of writers as diverse as Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, or Marguerite Duras.

This book, which grew out of fifteen years teaching in MFA programs, is itself a model of the lucid intelligence that has made Gornick one of our most admired writers of nonfiction. In it, she teaches us to write by teaching us how to read: how to recognize truth when we hear it in the writing of others and in our own.
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Published 13.01.2019

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All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.
Vivian Gornick

The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick

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Thank you! In the course of her discussion, teacher and journalist Gornick The End of the Novel of Love , , etc., Perhaps the most potent antidote to this increasingly disempowering cultural shift is to grow ever more thoughtful and deliberate about how we tell our own stories; to master the art of personal narrative so that we can write — writing being that most lucid mode of thinking and an indispensable form of talking to ourselves — about the expansive, dimensional, textured reality of who we are. Every work of literature has both a situation and a story.

Book by Vivian Gornick. Vivian Gornick, in her work The Situation and the Story: the Art of the Personal Narrative, distills the personal narrative to its essence. The title repeats itself over and over, until it is like a mantra: situation, story, situation, story, situation, story. This is the central question to which writers always return: Is this the situation or the story? Gornick starts out with her reaction to a eulogy held for a colleague. She wonders why, although it contained essentially the same information as the ones before it, this particular eulogy moved her and hung in her memory. The eulogy was based on a memory.

1 COMMENTS

  1. Jana V. says:

    THE SITUATION AND THE STORY by Vivian Gornick | Kirkus Reviews

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