The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting

How a Bunch of Rabble-Rousers, Outsiders, and Ne’er-do-wells Concocted Creative Nonfiction

Coming JANUARY 2024

In the 1970s, Lee Gutkind, a leather-clad hippie motorcyclist and former public relations writer, fought his way into the academy. Then he took on his colleagues. His goal: to make creative nonfiction an accepted academic discipline, one as vital as poetry, drama, and fiction. In this book Gutkind tells the true story of how creative nonfiction became a leading genre for both readers and writers.

Creative nonfiction—true stories enriched by relevant ideas, insights, and intimacies—offered liberation to writers, allowing them to push their work in freewheeling directions. The genre also opened doors to outsiders—doctors, lawyers, construction workers—who felt they had stories to tell about their lives and experiences.

Gutkind documents the evolution of the genre, discussing the lives and work of such practitioners as Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Rachel Carson, Upton Sinclair, Janet Malcolm, and Vivian Gornick. Gutkind also highlights the ethics of writing creative nonfiction, including how writers handle the distinctions between fact and fiction.

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My Last Eight-Thousand Days

An American Male in his Seventies

This revealing, candid, and vivid portrait of one man’s view of aging written by the man who played a crucial role in establishing literary, narrative nonfiction in the marketplace and in the academy, examines male aging in a way we’ve not seen before. In My Last Eight Thousand Days, Gutkind turns his notepad and tape […]

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The master of immersion research has immersed himself this time in his own story, with courage and honesty, generosity and wisdom, holding nothing back. Anyone who is aging and/or confronting loneliness (that means pretty much everyone) could benefit from reading this thoroughly engaging book.

Phillip Lopate

Lee Gutkind’s commitment to telling the truth, regardless of the discomfort, amounts to a kind of perfection in observation. He refuses to see what is not there, nor to exaggerate, nor to sentimentalize, and as a result, My Last Eight Thousand Days vibrates with a revelatory and somewhat dangerous freight: the feeling of actual life, actually lived.

Rick Moody

Life-changing in its perceptive and honest revelations of growing older. A must-read for all of us longing to peel back the truth of ourselves.

Gay Talese

This memoir is alive with the urgency of a man in his seventies still yearning to achieve a realized life. Lee Gutkind takes this urgency and runs with it. Many readers, I predict, will see themselves writ large in the pages of this gutsy, heart-felt example of creative nonfiction at its best.

Vivian Gornick
About Lee Gutkind

Gutkind is the Godfather Behind Creative Nonfiction.
-Vanity Fair

Lee Gutkind is the author and editor of more than thirty books, including You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction–from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, The Best Seat in Baseball: But You Have to Stand, Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather, and the award-winning, Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation.

Read Lee's Full Bio