Friday, March 8, 2013
Subgenres in Creative Nonfiction
“A slew of subgenres come together to make up that big hodgepodge that is creative nonfiction. Memoir, personal essay, narrative journalism, the poetic or lyric essay, travel and adventure essays, literary journals, nature and environment writing, profiles, the nonfiction novel, cultural critiqus, and even some reviews all come under its heading. Yet much creative nonfiction falls under more than one of these subcategories. Go into your standard bookstore and you rarely find a section expressly for creative nonfiction. These books are scattered all over the store, by subject; they’re found under sociology, architecture, travel, political science, and on and on—and often they don’t quite belong there. A memoir about a child who travels widely across several continents might end up in travel, biography. African American studies, essay—who knows?” (Hesse 2).
Hesse’s explanation of what makes up the genre creative nonfiction involves more than an essay or a memoir. Creative nonfiction “falls under more than one of these subcategories” when looked in a microscopic point of view (2). There cannot be just one or two in any genre. If the world of nonfiction had two subcategories and a writer creates a nonfiction piece that fits to one of these subgenres, the academic world as well as the innovative side will only produce a cookie cutter effect. The effect is dull, non-informational, not unique, and will lack the most important part of the opportunity of creation. Imagine that there are just two genres in the art of nonfiction. Either the cookie cutter will be like a previous work or a rebellion in the art will begin. If there is not a rebellion, the freedom of the press is jeopardized. However, if there were a chance for innovation, many genres will make up the nonfiction.
As there are subgenres in fiction, having many subgenres in creative nonfiction is essential. In order to avoid the cookie cutter effect, each writer has his or her personal touch to a specific work while trying to remain true to the facts. Writers, if not all, of creative nonfiction desire and specialize in a variety of works. There are books on many topics that are “scattered all over” a bookstore for readers who have different interest than the person next to them (2). When a reader walks into a bookstore, a peak of interest is in that person’s mind. A reader who loves to learn about a specific person comes into the store and heads towards a subject about that specific person. In some cases, that book can be a memoir or a collection of essays about that person the reader is fascinated in and pick it up to read.
Books in general speak about many topics whether fiction or nonfiction. Subgenres need to exist. How would anyone know what subject to find if there were one general theme? To look at it a scientific point of view, humans are under the Mammalia family, but scientists know that when looking at just the human family, they call humans, Homosapians. Creative nonfiction is the broader family in the literature sense. Literary journals, memoirs, essays, novels, and other works have their own species within the nonfiction family. When broken down further, these works are place within another family or topic. These works are not cookie cutter works. They are individuals that make up the field of nonfiction.