So yesterday we heard from Michael Perry, and today I have a note from Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (as well as Chasing the Sea and God Lives in St. Petersburg), to share with you. I asked him this question:
"One of the questions we discussed was what to classify your book. Could you enlighten on us on what you would call your book (if you had to, say, find one shelf location for it in the bookstore)?"
And this is what he answered:
"This is a question I try not to think about too much, because if I did I´d probably throw myself off a bridge. The nonfiction writers I like tend to write books that escape categorization. I´m thinking of Ryszard Kapuscinski and Geoff Dyer just off the top of my head. I wrote TFOAT very much under the spell of those two fine gentlemen. So I would say, if it had to be shelved anywhere, why not in Travel Narrative. I´ve seen it in history, which I don´t think it has the heft to belong so much, and in biography, which just seems odd. I wish bookstores had a Weird section for nonfiction, because that´s where I think it belongs, ultimately.
Finally, thank you very much for the links. I´m reading them in Spain, having just walked across the country, and it gave me a nice return-to-normal-life feeling. My new book is coming out in the spring, which I think may probably escape your blog´s attention: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter--and Why They Don´t Matter More."
So there you have it, a new nonfiction heading: Weird Nonfiction. The thing is, I think I know exactly what he means. And the first author I would place next to Bissell in Weird Nonfiction is William Langewiesche.
Well, how fun was that? Two great books, two class acts, and one totally spanking book discussion. Thanks again, all, and have a great weekend.