As the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Connotation Press, I find that one of my great pleasures is reviewing the pieces I’ve presented over the past twelve months, in order to identify the best of the best for our yearly retrospective issue. Every summer, I take a kind of arduous joy in crunching my brain in order to arrive at the best creative nonfiction of the past year. And as I say every year, it’s never an easy process, since the reason I published all of the pieces in the first place was because I found them so very excellent.
Since there’s no way to place these best-of selections in order of quality, I have to present them in alphabetical order:
In “Just Another Day,” KenDarian Carter illuminates for us certain realities regarding the experience of being black in America. The examples he has selected from his life are a testament to the long distance American society has yet to go in achieving understanding and equality.
I’ve read a certain amount of masterful writing, and a certain amount of experimental writing, and it’s especially rewarding to read and publish a piece of masterful experimental writing. This is what Lucy Durneen has achieved with “Nothing Has Changed from How It Wasn’t.” I think you’re going to enjoy and admire it quite a bit.
In “Killing Trees,” Nahal Suzanne Jamir illuminates for us the realities of having a peripatetic upbringing. She takes us through Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Florida, and the poetic descriptions her writer’s eye has chosen to give us dramatize what it means to be a person who is a survivor.
I like “Drive-by Teeth” by Gail Peck because it encapsulates a phenomenon that becomes more and more prevalent as we get older—people and places that are gone loom larger and larger in our minds, and we feel that they have formed who we are—and yet they are irretrievably lost. This goes beyond any sense of nostalgia. We walk around with these lost people and places, for they are integral parts of us, although it has been a long time since they’ve been here.
Probably we’ve all suffered, in one workplace or another, from sharing space with a colleague who’s troublesome, perhaps even psychologically disturbed. This could happen anywhere—believe me, it could even happen in academia. I won’t reveal anything more about Molly Seale’s outstanding “Fernando Alvarez Died,” except to say that it held me tightly from the first word to the last—and, without revealing which subgenre this piece falls into, I’d say the final, commendable compassion shown in this piece is not necessarily typical.
Finally, I’m always looking for new essays to publish. I invite you to submit nonfiction on a topic of your choice. I’m looking for creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays—with the understanding that these categories often overlap. Up to 10,000 words. Please submit work directly to me at [email protected] . I look forward to reading your work—and who knows, you may even find yourself honored next year in my “best of” column!