True Stories, Well Told

from the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine

Edited by Lee Gutkind & Hattie Fletcher

Creative nonfiction is the literary equivalent of jazz: it’s a rich mix of flavors, ideas, voices, and techniques—some newly invented, and others as old as writing itself. This collection of 20 gripping, beautifully-written nonfiction narratives is the best of the best from CNF. Contributions by Toi Derricotte, Brian Doyle, Carolyn Forché, Caitlin Horrocks, Harrison Scott Key, and others draw inspiration from topics ranging from butterflies to baseball, and from sustainable farming to fatherhood. Their unforgettable stories shed light on how we live.

Plus, in “The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting,” Creative Nonfiction’s founding editor offers his unique perspective on the evolution of the genre and the heartbreaks and rewards of literary publishing.

Introduction by Susan Orlean.



Table of Contents

You'll Know It When You See It Susan Orlean
The Butterfly Effect Jennifer Lunden
Charging Lions Chester F. Phillips
End of the Line Jim Kennedy
The Wishbone Harrison Scott Key
Breastfeeding Dick Cheney Sonya Huber
Teaching Death Todd May
Self-Interview Gordon Lish
Rachel at Work: Enclosed, a Mother's Report Jane Bernstein
Mrs. Kelly Paul Austin
The World Without Us Carolyn Forché
Scrambled Eggs Marilyn A. Gelman
Regeneration Brenda Miller
The Heart Jerald Walker
Without a Map Meredith Hall
Two on Two Brian Doyle
Pesäpallo: Playing at the Edge of the World Caitlin Horrocks
'Mbriago Louise DeSalvo
Far, Far Away Pria Anand
Night Rhythms John T. Price
The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting Lee Gutkind


Inviting, inquisitive and attentive

Kirkus Reviews


"An engaging anthology of creative nonfiction from the editors at Creative Nonfiction magazine [...] Many of the pieces have an... read more

An emotionally coherent whole

Publishers Weekly


"This aptly titled collection pulled from the archives of Creative Nonfiction magazine includes essays on subjects that range from the... read more

Chock-full of treasures from a diverse field of writers

Pittsburgh Magazine


"By turns gossipy, angry, hilarious and informative, Gutkind's essay alone is worth the price of this book. Lucky for us, the... read more

A nonfiction writer's manual

New Pages


This whirlwind collection features an exceptionally talented stable of writers [..] There is something to learn from every writer in this... read more

A creative slice of the real world

Swarthmore College Bulletin


The subjects of the essays in True Stories, Well Told range from the cultivation of compassion, to the disappearing habitat for monarch... read more

Personal stories worth your attention

Pittsburgh Quarterly

January 1, 2015

You don’t have to be a devotee to be impressed by what Creative Nonfiction hath wrought: a place that challenges writers to make their... read more