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Pittsburgh In Words

Edited by Lee Gutkind

Rivers. Steel. Neighborhoods. Industry. Art. Football. Can words explain a city like Pittsburgh, with its rich history, complicated geography and diverse communities? Over the years, countless writerswho grew up in Pittsburgh, moved here or were just passing throughhave taken up the challenge. Many wrote with love; some, with faint praise. (Will the city ever live down being compared in 1868, by journalist James Parton, to "hell with the lid taken off"?) Now, in celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary, we've invited seven writers to tell new stories about the city and its people. The resulting collectionCNF's first devoted entirely to its hometown as a subjectcontains memories of teenage trips and family businesses, tales of immersion into unfamiliar communities and accounts of early mornings on the river, as well as thoughts about what it all means. One thing's for sureit's more than just words.

Read the stories in their entireity in the "Excerpts" section below.

Table of Contents

M. Berger Co Jeremy Smerd ... read more
Double Joy: Myron Cope and the Pittsburgh Sound Elena Passarello ... read more
Rowing Through the Ruins Erin E. Tocknell ... read more
Immigrant Stories Mark Kramer ... read more
Pod City Anjali Sachdeva ... read more
In Pursuit of Puppets: A Pittsburgh Romance Missy Raterman ... read more


Elena Passarello

When "Ramalamadingdong" was first published, Elena Passarello told Creative Nonfiction that her favorite lyricists were... read more

Anjali Sachdeva

Anjali Sachdeva teaches English and creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her work... read more

Jeremy Smerd

Jeremy Smerd lives and works as a journalist in New York City. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and... read more

Erin E. Tocknell

Erin E. Tocknell grew up in Nashville but received all of her post-secondary education in or near Pittsburgh, earning her undergraduate... read more


Creative Nonfiction explores Pittsburgh in Words with seven original essays

Pittsburgh City Paper

December 11, 2008

"Writing about Pittsburgh" is a fraught enterprise. You either get tangled in clichés—don't make me repeat... read more


M. Berger Co. Jeremy Smerd

If I had been asked to describe my family... read more

Rowing Through the Ruins Erin E. Tocknell

The Warm-Up Every day began in darkness the... read more

Immigrant Stories Mark Kramer

Most Saturday afternoons, you can find Martha... read more

940 Kathleen Rooney Mara

Nonno’s voice echoed in my ears as I... read more

Pod City Anjali Sachdeva

In 1955, Jack Finney published his best-selling... read more

In Pursuit of Puppets: A Pittsburgh Romance Missy Raterman

In the fall of 2007, I was cozying into an... read more