Blurring the Boundaries


Blurring the Boundaries

Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction

Edited by B.J. Hollars

280 pages
3 photographs, 3 figures


March 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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May 2019


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Contemporary discussions on nonfiction are often riddled with questions about the boundaries between truth and memory, honesty and artifice, facts and lies.  Just how much truth is in nonfiction?  How much is a lie? Blurring the Boundaries sets out to answer such questions while simultaneously exploring the limits of the form.

This collection features twenty genre-bending essays from today’s most renowned teachers and writers—including original work from Michael Martone, Marcia Aldrich, Dinty W. Moore, Lia Purpura, and Robin Hemley, among others. These essays experiment with structure, style, and subject matter, and each is accompanied by the writer’s personal reflection on the work itself, illuminating his or her struggles along the way. As these innovative writers stretch the limits of genre, they take us with them, offering readers a front-row seat to an ever-evolving form.

Readers also receive a practical approach to craft thanks to the unique writing exercises provided by the writers themselves. Part groundbreaking nonfiction collection, part writing reference, Blurring the Boundaries serves as the ideal book for literary lovers and practitioners of the craft. 

Author Bio

B.J. Hollars is an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of several books including From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being HumanThirteen Loops: Race, Violence, The Last Lynching in America and Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa, and Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds


“Inspire[s] oblique imitation by simply collecting so much excellent writing in one place. . . . Well-suited to student-writers, which should include all of us, because [the essays] allow us to look under the hood and see the machinery that makes such moving creative nonfiction.”—Fourth Genre

"A nifty little book."—Paul L. Martin, Teacher's View

Table of Contents


B.J. Hollars

      Introduction: Let the Blurring Begin

Marcia Aldrich

      The Structure of Trouble

      On "The Structure of Trouble": Fitting Function to Form

Monica Berlin

      The Eighteenth Week

      On "The Eighteenth Week": On Point of View

Eula Biss

      Time and Distance Overcome

      On "Time and Distance Overcome": The Rewards of Research

Ryan Boudinot

      An Essay and a Story about Mötley Crüe

      On "An Essay and a Story about Mötley Crüe": Knowing One's Audience and Making Your Dreams Come True

Ashley Butler


      On "Dazzle": The Fluidity of Boundaries

Steven Church

      Thirty Minutes to the End: An Essay to My Aunt Judy on the Occasion of the May 4, 2007, Tornado

      On "Thirty Minutes to the End: An Essay to My Aunt Judy on the Occasion of the May 4, 2007, Tornado": Rethinking Genre

Stuart Dybek


      On "Bait": The Hybridity of Form

Beth Ann Fennelly

      Salvos into the World of Hummers

      On "Salvos into the World of Hummers": The Convergence of Subject and Style

Robin Hemley

      Flagpole Wedding, Coshocton, Ohio, 1946: An Essay on Process

      On "Flagpole Wedding, Coshocton, Ohio, 1946: An Essay on Process": Transitioning from Notes to Novel

Naomi Kimbell

      Whistling in the Dark

      On "Whistling in the Dark": When Telling Lies Reveals Truth

Kim Dana Kupperman

      71 Fragments for a Chronology of Possibility

      On "71 Fragments for a Chronology of Possibility": An Eight-Fragment, Five-Paragraph Essay

Paul Maliszewski


      On "Headaches": Articulating the Inexplicable

Michael Martone


      On "Asymmetry": The Typewriter Is Not a Typewriter

Ander Monson

      Outline toward a Theory of the Mine versus the Mind and the Harvard Outline

      Outline toward a Reflection on the Outline and the Splitting of the Atom, I Mean the Colorado River, I Mean Our Collective Attentions, or Maybe I Mean the Brain, Which Is Mostly Forks, You Know

Dinty W. Moore

      Four Essential Tips for Telling the Truth in Personal Memoir and Securing That Blockbuster Book Deal

      On "Four Essential Tips for Telling the Truth . . .": Implementing Exaggeration and Humor

Susan Neville

      A Visit to the Doctor

      On "A Visit to the Doctor": The Omission of I

Brian Oliu


      On "Contra": Nostalgia and the Shared Experience

Lia Purpura

      Squirrel: An Ars Poetica

      On "Squirrel: An Ars Poetica": Starting in One Place and Ending in Another

Wendy Rawlings

      Why I Hope My Soap Opera Will Outlive Me and Other Confessions about a Dying Art

      On "Why I Hope My Soap Opera Will Outlive Me and Other Confessions about a Dying Art": Breaking the Fourth Wall

Ryan Van Meter


      On "Monster": The Immersion Effect

Writing Exercises


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