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On the one hand, the answer to this question is easy: The term “nonfiction” suggests that it is the opposite of fiction. But then where do poetry and drama fit in? They are also not fiction (and some libraries classify them under nonfiction), yet we see them as distinct from nonfiction. Nonfiction may mean that it is true, factual, not “made up,” though as we’ll see, even that can be problematic. But in general, the goal of nonfiction is to stick to reality rather than invent it. So what makes some nonfiction creative? We might say that creative nonfiction is literary nonfiction, but what does that mean? One answer is that it’s not only about what it says it’s about. I might write about my childhood to reveal something about race relations or I might write a travelogue of Paris, not to be a guidebook to the city, but to present a guide to French culture or compare it to my culture. Or I might write a recipe, not to cook it (though maybe you could) but to get at the philosophy or way of life of my grandmother.
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