Brief Encounters

W.W. NORTON  |  AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 9, 2015

edited with Dinah Lenney

The late Judith Kitchen, editor of the perennially popular anthologies Short Takes, In Short, and In Brief, was greatly influential in recognizing and establishing flash creative nonfiction as a form in its own right. In Brief Encounters, she and writer/editor/actor Dinah Lenney expand this vibrant field with nearly eighty new selections: shorts—as these sharply focused pieces have come to be known—representing an impressive range of voices, perspectives, sensibilities, and forms. Brief Encounters features the work of the emerging and the established—including Stuart Dybek, Roxanne Gay, Eduardo Galeano, Leslie Jamison, and Julian Barnes—arranged by theme to explore the human condition in ways intimate, idiosyncratic, funny, sad, provocative, lyrical, unflinching. From the rant to the rave, the meditation to the polemic, the confession to the valediction, this collection of shorts—this celebration of true and vivid prose—will enlarge your world.

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Praise for Brief Encounters

“Among the 77 nonfiction pieces (each under 2,000 words) collected here, the personal tales by Anika Fajardo, Dinty W. Moore, Jim Krusoe, and Tod Goldberg best emulate the short-fiction strategy of hooking readers right away, building suspense, and finishing with a satisfying payoff. Some selections such as Lia Purpura’s “Brief Treatise Against Irony,” simply try too hard. Others, including Ben Anastas’s “O Pioneers!” and Sonja Livingston’s “A Thousand Mary Doyles,” are concise to the point of feeling unfinished. That said, some of the most satisfying inclusions are the shortest, including the one-paragraph pieces “Fats” by Hilton Als and “Grief” by Julian Barnes, and Sven Birkerts’s one-sentence essay entitled, appropriately, “One Long Sentence.” Selections are grouped by themes, including travel, animals, and sports. James Richardson’s “Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays” and Patricia Hampl’s “Reading,” respectively the opening and penultimate contributions, both focus on literature and reading, neatly framing the other entries. The result is a book that, while uneven, is certainly worthwhile.”

–Publisher’s Weekly

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