1. For this assignment, choose one professional creative nonfiction writer publishing in America in the last 50 years whose work you enjoy reading. Find and read at least 100 pages of this writer's essays. These can be chapters in a creative nonfiction book such as a memoir or travelogue, but they can also be separate pieces unconnected to one another. Start by reading around widely: read in our textbook, pp. 182-375; read articles in the New Yorker; read articles in a collection you borrow from my office; read online. Don't choose the first writer you encounter just to "get it over with." Rather, make an effort to find a writer congenial to your tastes as a reader and writer. You could also start with a subject you enjoy reading about and look for a writer who specializes in that subject. I can make suggestions if you tell me the subject you enjoy.
2. Once you have chosen your writer, find more of the writer's pieces by scanning "Notes on Contributors for Writing True," pp. 376 ff. in our text; by "Googling" the writer's name; by browsing in my office book shelf; and by searching the CUNY Plus library catalogue. Choose as many of the writer's pieces as you want to read and list them in APA or MLA format to hand in on March 8. Remember that you must read at least 100 pages.
3. Read your chosen writer's essays. But don't read passively this time. Take notes, underline bits you like, write comments in the margins, and so on. Here are the questions you will need to answer in your Appreciation, so keep them in mind as you read. (I refer to your chosen author as A.) To answer these questions adequately, you need specific examples from A's writing. Hence my emphasis on your reading with pen and notebook in hand. Your main purpose in this piece is to explain and illustrate why you chose A's writing, to make some point about it.
Who is A? Does A write for a living or do something else and write on the side? What has A published? Where? When?
What subjects does A write about?
What particular pieces have you chosen to examine?
How does A keep you involved and interested? Does A use detailed descriptions? dialogue? unusual settings, or characters, or events? Does A make arguments? tell stories? define weird words? exaggerate to be humorous or satiric?
How does A "hook" the reader at the start? How does A move the reader from one part of the essay to the next? How does A like to end pieces?
How would you describe a typical sentence of A's writing? What sort of vocabulary does A use? Does A use any sort of figurative language? Does A use any sort of repetition? Would you describe A's sentences as plain or fancy? Why?
Why did you choose this writer? The answer to this question may very well be your thesis.
4. If you want my feedback on your Appreciation before it is due, bring an outline of your ideas to your conference with me during the week of March 15-22.
5. Write your appreciation of your chosen author for April 17, when we return from Spring Break. Your appraisal should be 2-3 pages long. This is not long, so make every word count. Refer specifically to the writing you read and/or quote A to help explain what you're saying. Like all the writing for this course, your audience is your magazine-reading peers and me. This should NOT be composed in academic prose such as you would use for a literature paper. So don't bother with any research apparatus, such as a bibliography or endnotes. Just make your writing interesting, lively, and correct. And be sure it has an attention-grabbing title.