27 Mar 2006

Not Fiction? Not a Bore ;)

Some years back when I joined an online writing community, the first for me, I noticed something interesting on the forums. Of the wide range of critique groups, based on different genres and parameters, there was one that elicited the least response. This was the nonfiction genre. The community had a good number of members, yet only a handful of takers for nonfiction. I wondered why. And found out the primary reason behind this lack of interest was the notion that non-fic is "plain boring." Now, those are not my words (hence the quote marks).

I was of course part of the handful of people who did form a non-fic critique group. And let me tell you loud and clear, reading the group's works was anything but boring. Quite the opposite. The pieces were interesting and made for a good deal of learning. From Christmas legends to war veteran's stories, from a fun-column on political correctness to a member's series of Encounters (that was the title of the series) with nature and animals, and from Native American traditions to humor columns, our group postings were what would be any reader's delight. The subject matters were mostly informative, the writing style inviting, affectionate, perky or intimate, as need be. Rarely, if ever, was it didactic so as to turn off the general reader.

My own limited reading repertoire includes some fine works of nonfiction, and I have been left satisfied and enriched as I turned the last page of each one of them. I will use this space for discussing some of these brilliant (yes, they do deserve that qualification) works and their masterly authors.

My point? Nonfiction need not be drab, eye-straining tomes filled with dry information. Just like good fiction, well-written non-fic brings places, people, cultures, and events to life. And what's more, it tells true stories. About real people.


3 comments:

susie hawes said...

can't wait to read the next one.:D

jamie ford said...

I don't think non-fiction is boring at all. A textbook on Fortran, that's boring.

I enjoyed most of Ambrose's books, as well as a bunch of biographies, memoirs, and even journalistic reads like The Hacker Crackdown and Friday Night Lights.

Bhaswati said...

Thanks for the comments, Susie and Jamie.

I will get down to the book examples very soon. Jamie, those are exactly the type of books I refer to while making a case for non-fic being gripping, interesting reads. I hope to make it clearer with the examples that follow.

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