Fear in Writing: Local Laureate and Nonfiction

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Local Laureate and Nonfiction

The 2011 Piedmont Laureate spoke yesterday on our NPR affiliate, WUNC.  Scott Huler said many interesting things, but one stood out to me.  He said during his reign as Piedmont Laureate the "worst piece of nonfction" will come to an end.  He's talking about the Homeland Security Color Coded Threat System.

That's right, folks, you can no longer ignore the Code Orange rating on your way to the airport, because it won't be there to ignore! (NY Daily News)  Who knew what Code Orange even meant?  Who paid attention to it anyway?  I know in the news business we reported code changes dutifully but without relish.

But I digress...What struck me most about Huler's comment wasn't the end of the Threat System, but him calling it nonfiction.  I never thought about it one way or the other, but do we include all records and government publications as literature?  Do they count enough to be called fiction or non?  (Not debating the fictional possibilities in government works here...)

This reminds me of the US governement's 2004 publication, The 9/11 Commission Report.  The result of months of investigation into the worst act of foreign terrorism on US soil became in instant bestseller, according to the NY Times.  And they're doing it again!  That's right, the government commission headed by Thomas H. Kean is releasing a new, fully-loaded report titled The 9/11 Report: The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.  It's due to be released August of this year.

All of this strikes a cord with me right now because I've been reading so much nonfiction.  I seem to be in an era of learning in my life--can't get enough of the stuff!  None of it is dry or mathematical.  It's all related to my interest--arts, mysteries, death, politics, history.  And Huler's comment made me realize how much is out there at which I've never looked before.  Nonfiction, fiction, a blend of the two...It's all around us!

What do you think?


  1. Non-fiction is great for learning about our world. Not sure if the threat system counts though!

  2. Michele - Non-fiction really does have so much to teach us; I don't wonder you've been absorbed in it lately. And sometimes, the line between fiction and non-fiction is soooo blurred. What about, for instance, fictional accounts of true events? It's such an interesting topic you brought up here! Food for thought... yummy!

  3. I enjoy reading non-fiction, and do it quite regularly, everything from science and math to writing-related stuff. I bought the 9/11 commission report many years ago, and read it, at least half of it. The description of the planning and execution of the terror attacks was very interesting, a real-life thriller >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  4. My husband and I read the 9/11 Commission Report together. It was the first book we both read and discussed--really a strange thing for us to do as we have very different tastes in reading. But that shockingly honest take on something we had experienced together was really good for us. I think it was for us as a nation, as well.