I'm a big fan of David Sedaris, mostly because he's such a master of the personal narrative. Yesterday on the plane, I finally had the chance to read his latest piece, Loggerheads, that was published in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago. In particular, I admire the way he weaves seemingly disparate anecdotes together thematically to construct an integral whole. (Way to go, Dave!) On the same flight, I also read an essay about creative nonfiction by Marion Winik in the Winter 2010 edition of Teachers and Writers. I've long been a fan of hers as well; I know her from her personal commentaries on NPR. In the article, her analysis of the genre is fascinating, wide-ranging, and even forgiving of James Frey. All of this is exceptionally timely, since I plan to start on memoir with my students when we get back in January.
In the spirit of Sedaris and Winik, I like this genre because it is so accessible and yet so powerful. It validates kids by giving them a chance to tell a story that is important to them, and encourages them and their readers to find a greater meaning in the tale. Not to mention that it offers so many opportunities for writing instruction, both in craft and convention, as well. Pardon me while I rub my hands together in gleeful anticipation.