Thursday Jan 27

Robert Clark Young The four pieces of creative nonfiction I’ve chosen this month speak to me in very different ways, and yet each of these ways is personal. I suspect they will resonate with many other readers as well.

My mother was Mexican, a fact that nobody can guess until I open my mouth to speak Spanish. Passing as Anglo has made me aware, my entire life, of the odd racial penumbra that U.S. society forces millions of people to live in. Thus I read with tremendous interest Kerry L. Beckford’s “Red and Green,” which addresses the issue of skin tone from an African-American perspective. If race is a social construct, then everything that follows from that construct must itself be artificial.

For the past 63 months, I’ve worked as a caregiver in my parents’ home. For 45 months, I cared for my mother, and I continue to care for my father. Losing my mom a year and a half ago was one of the most traumatic losses I’ve ever suffered. Thus, I’m always interested in stories that explore similar terrain. “Last Hours,” by Gail Peck, is one such tale, and it will touch you deeply.

In a couple of months I’ll be celebrating 40 years as a writer. It’s not unusual for people to begin writing in their early teens. Sooner or later you stop thinking of the literary life solely as an avocation and begin to consider, to a degree that may vary over the years, the business aspects of writing and publishing. The always-interesting Andrew Tonkovich gives us “The Business of Literature: The Cost of Being a Writer,” which anyone who practices or follows the literary arts will find intelligent, enjoyable, and illuminating.

I always enjoy a piece of writing that’s so creative that it borders on the zany, while maintaining a zigzagging through-line that prevents it from going completely berserk. It is in this spirit that I over you a “Tale of Two Windmills,” by Michael Veloff. You will enjoy its inventiveness.

Finally, if you are a creative nonfiction writer yourself—or working in the closely allied genres of narrative nonfiction or memoir—please do submit your work to us, up to 10,000 words. Perhaps we will not only publish it, but also hail you as one of our best writers of the year in next year’s retrospective issue. Please submit your work directly to me at [email protected].