Robert Root

New in Fall 2007


Nonfiction—the “fourth genre” (along with poetry, fiction, and drama)—is a literary field affecting bestseller lists, writing programs, writers’ workshops, and conferences on the study of creative writing, composition/​rhetoric, and literature. It is often labeled and/​or limited as “creative” or “literary” nonfiction and subdivided into essay, memoir, literary journalism, personal cultural criticism, and narratives of nature and travel. A vital and growing form, nonfiction has, until now, needed a sustained discussion about its poetics—both the theory and the craft of the genre. The Nonfictionist’s Guide offers a lively exploration of the elements of contemporary nonfiction and suggests imaginative approaches to writing it. Each chapter on a vital aspect of contemporary nonfiction concludes with a separate section of relevant “notes for nonfictionists.” Beginning with a new definition of nonfiction and explanation of the nonfiction motive, Robert Root discusses the use of experimental forms, the effects of present and past tense and experiential and reflective voices, and the issue of truth. He provides groundbreaking explorations of the segmented essay and the role of spaces as an essential literary device, guiding both readers and writers through the innovative and stimulating ways we write nonfiction now.

Advance Reviews for The Nonfictionist's Guide

"Robert Root continues to be a leading voice in the field of creative nonfiction, and this book is the living proof. Insightful, informative, and immensely practical, The Nonfictionist's Guide is an invaluable tool for the classroom and any writer or reader in the field. A book not to miss."—Kristen Iversen, The University of Memphis

"This up-to-the-minute, extraordinarily well-informed, and highly suggestive book cannot help but be valuable to writers and teachers of the genre. Robert Root has read widely and pondered deeply the patterns and perplexities that underlie the practice of literary nonfiction. A marvelously commonsensical addition to the literature."—Phillip Lopate, author, The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present

"The Nonfictionist's Guide is essential reading for all writers and teachers of creative nonfiction. In clear and elegant prose, Robert Root explores the deepest questions about the genre and demonstrates how to shape nonfiction texts that aspire to the condition of art."—Rebecca McClanahan, author, Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively and The Riddle Song and Other Remembering

Selected Works

“As Robert Root walks through the Wisconsin landscape, he reads the windblown hay field, the dripping green wood, and the crooked blue river with as much care and precision as the three writers he’s following: Muir, Leopold, and Derleth.”—Tom Montgomery Fate. “Root's celebration of pristine places is a valentine to a small region that inspired giants of conservation.” – Foreword Reviews
"With its multiple modes (vignette, meditation, photograph, ekphrasis), it subverts and redefines memoir, always asking how a person might seek to know himself within the larger context of nation and history. Robert Root's prose is a refreshing joy to read.”—Patrick Madden
Creative Nonfiction
The best of the "Thinking Out Loud" series of essays written 1980-1987 for broadcast on Central Michigan University's "Morning Edition" program
This quiet, contemplative and profound book is a celebration of love of places from one of our best thinkers about love of place. --David Gessner
A contemporary writer explores the landscape of his new home in the footsteps of earlier writers.
An anthology of essays and narratives of place, with commentary by the authors about the role of place in their writing
“Root’s story speaks to the human quest for meaning and connection through narrative”
--Kim Barnes
This anthology is the comprehensive, indispensable introduction to the way creative nonfiction is written today.
Nonfiction, Writing
A "poetics" of nonfiction that is "insightful, informative, and immensely practical."-- Kristen Iversen
“a fascinating journey into the mind of the master”
--Kathleen Wildman