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What’s New in Nonfiction?

In a creative introduction to the nonfiction feature in New Madrid, Editors Lisa Luton and Elena Passarello address the ongoing debate in nonfiction writing—how far from the truth can a writer wander.

The introduction is a dialogue between two characters, Memoir and Essay. At first the two argue. Essay argues that “essayists try to create a new, fully realized contract with each piece of writing, one that is grounded and centered in art rather than proving anything. The trying is what turns us on, and hopefully what turns readers on. Why put art first? Because art is greater than fact.” To which Memoir says, “I think we are the purveyors of the existing, deeper truths of the world. We are not here to make art out of facts, but to find an portray the art that is already there.”

However, as they carry on, they realize that they have a lot in common with each other and that “Maybe nonfiction is about both the trying and the answering, and, just like with a painting, it is the audience’s interpretation of the art that makes the true meaning.” Essay goes on to say that “the greatest thing we can learn from all these submissions is that we nonfictioneers might have core values that go in opposite directions, but there’s enough room under this genre umbrella for all of us.”

This nonfiction feature in New Madrid includes both essays and memoirs—and pieces that perhaps can’t be defined one way or the other. Writers featured include Kim Trevathan, Kirby Wright, Matthew Gavin Frank, Sean Christopher Lewis, Frankie Finley, Briandaniel Oglesby, Sara B. Levi, Vincent Scarpa, Daniel Aristi, John Proctor, Tom Elliot, and Alison Stine.

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