Issue #9, 1998

The Universal Chord

What is the magic touch that turns an incident into a work of literature? As this issue demonstrates, it takes more than a fascinating event in the course of someone’s life to generate a true work of art. The pieces in this issue were chosen because they strike a “universal chord”—a meaning and a feeling that resonates with the larger human experience. These essays epitomize the way the skilled narrative nonfiction author turns the private into the public, the personal and mundane into something universal and meaningful.

Among the authors, publishing nonfiction for the first time in this issue, Megan Foss illustrates her journey from despondency and heroin addiction, through prison, and eventually to university and graduate school; A. D. Coleman’s “Sea Changes” documents a day on the Staten Island Ferry and how the extraordinary can sometimes lay hidden among the ordinary; Brian Doyle tells of a short but profound moment in his life when his past, future, and destiny seem to blend together in seamless harmony. These narratives show how events in everyday life can slowly build into meaning beyond themselves.

This issue is out of print.

Table of Contents

FROM THE EDITOR: The "Truth and Consequences" of Creative Nonfiction Lee Gutkind ... read more
Two on Two Brian Doyle ... read more
What Is It We Really Harvestin' Here? Ntozake Shange
Love Letters Megan Foss
Rural Nobodies Jill Carpenter
Shitdiggers, Mudflats and the Worm Men of Maine Bill Roorbach
Einstein Didn't Dream of My Mother Priscilla Hodgkins ... read more
Scattering Point Jeff Gundy
You Want Me to Shoot You? Raymond Abbott
Musselshell Robert Coker Johnson
Sea Changes: Traveling the Staten Island Ferry A.D. Coleman
Sa'm Pèdi Madison Smartt Bell
Mr. Personalities: A Conversation with Mark Singer Michael Pearson
COVER TO COVER: Reviews of New Books


Raymond Abbott

Raymond Abbott worked on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota for two years before publishing his novel "That Day in Gordon". Abbott is... read more

Jill Carpenter

Jill Carpenter, a biologist and journalist, is the author of "Senses and Sensibilities" (John Wiley & Sons) and has edited a collection... read more

A.D. Coleman

A.D. Coleman served as photography critic for the New York Observer from 1988 to 1997. He is the author of several books, including "... read more

Robert Coker Johnson

Robert Coker Johnson was born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho. He received a B.A. in English in 1989 and recently completed a degree in... read more

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle was the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland in Oregon and the author of many books of essays and fiction... read more

Megan Foss

Megan Foss earned her MA at Western Washington University. read more

Jeff Gundy

Jeff Gundy teaches English at Bluffton College in northwest Ohio. He is the author of one book of prose: "Community of Memory" (... read more

Priscilla Hodgkins

Priscilla Hodgkins is a recent graduate of the Writing Seminars at Bennington College where she is currently the program's associate... read more

Michael Pearson

Michael Pearson is the director of creative writing at Old Dominion University. He is the author of "Imagined Places: Journeys Into... read more

Bill Roorbach

Bill Roorbach is the author of a memoir, "Summers with Juliet" (Houghton Mifflin, 1992), and a book of instruction, "Writing Life Stories... read more

Ntozake Shange

Ntozake Shange, an award-winning playwright, novelist and poet, is the author of "Liliane", "Sassafras, Cypress, Indigo" and "for colored... read more

Madison Smartt Bell

Madison Smartt Bell is director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College. Master of the Crossroads, the second novel in... read more