Compelling Clarity of Insight: John Domini on DeWitt Henry’s Safe Suicide

Review by John Domini in GENTLY READ LITERATURE, December 2008

It's called creative non-fiction, and these days there's just no stopping it. More and more commercial publishing depends on the memoir, ostensibly non-fiction and most, at least, remain reasonably true to the facts. Meanwhile, at universities all over the country a fledgling writer can earn multiple degrees in the genre, though it seems just recently hatched. Truman Capote could claim to have invented the approach in 1965 when he published his "non-fiction novel" In Cold Blood. Another originator could be Tom Wolfe with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1968 or when Norman Mailer bulled onto the scene with The Armies of the Night and Miami and the Siege of Chicago (both also '68). All fine work, no denying, and all apply the intimacy, subtlety, and significant shape of a made-up story to a real one. They take the moil of experience and recompose it with a beginning, middle, and end; they excavate character, establish metaphors, and identify watersheds.

Read more.