Reviews Mark O'Connell November 17, 2 books mentioned 8 min read Were I to claim that Jean-Philippe Toussaint shared a certain amount of common ground with Ian McEwan, I might be in danger of coming off as flippant or, worse, willfully obtuse. Toussaint, after all, is a Belgian avant-garde novelist known for his radically plotless books that seem intent on revealing as little as possible about their protagonists.
When I teach the hermit crab essay class, we begin by brainstorming the many different forms that exist for us to plunder for our own purposes.
Once we have such a list scribbled on the board, I ask the students to choose one form at random and see what kind of content that form suggests. This is the essential move: Also, following the dictates of form gives us creative nonfiction writers a chance to practice using our imaginations, filling in details, and playing with the content to see what kind of effects we can create.
April 12, Dear Young Artist: Thank you for your attempt to draw a tree. We appreciate your efforts, especially the way you sat patiently on the sidewalk, gazing at that tree for an hour before setting pen to paper, the many quick strokes of charcoal executed with enthusiasm.
But your drawing looks nothing like a tree. In fact, the smudges look like nothing at all, and your own pleasure and pride in said drawing are not enough to redeem it.
October 13, Dear 10th Grader: Thank you for your application to be a girlfriend to one of the star players on the championship basketball team.
As you can imagine, we have received hundreds of similar requests and so cannot possibly respond personally to every one. We regret to inform you that you have not been chosen for one of the coveted positions, but we do invite you to continue hanging around the lockers, acting as if you belong there.
This selfless act serves the team members as they practice the art of ignoring lovesick girls. Though your brother is one of the star players, we could not take this familial relationship into account.
Sorry to say no! Please do try out for one of the rebound girlfriend positions in the future. And as I follow that voice, the notes begin to demand more room, wanting to break free of the concise form and allow for more in-depth story. I can also broaden the concept of the rejection note in order to create sections that work for the subject matter.
December 10, Dear College Dropout: Thank you for the short time you spent with us. We understand that you have decided to terminate your stay, a decision that seems completely reasonable given the circumstances.
After all, who knew that the semester you decided to come to UC Berkeley would be so tumultuous: After all, who among us has not mistakenly followed the wrong person, come close to swallowing poison? And then Harvey Milk was shot.
A blast reverberating across the bay. It truly did feel like the world was falling apart, we know that. We understand how you took refuge in the music of the Grateful Dead, dancing until you felt yourself leave your body behind, caught up in their brand of enlightenment.
And given that you were a drama major, struggling on a campus well known for histrionics and unrest: When you had your exit interview with the Dean of Students, you were completely inarticulate about your reasons for leaving, perhaps because you really have no idea.
You know there is a boy you might love, living in Santa Cruz. You fed him peanuts at a Dead Show. You imagine playing house with him, growing up there in the shadows of large trees. He clasped his hands on the oak desk and waited for you to explain yourself.Feb 22, · The Hermit Crab Essay is a creative nonfiction form popularized—and perhaps named—by Brenda Miller.
The most popular example of the form is her essay, “Table of Figures,” originally published in Gulf Coast literary magazine, and reprinted in Best Creative Nonfiction: Figure A girl becomes aware of herself as a girl.
The term “hermit crab essay,” coined in by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola in their book Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction, refers to essays that take the form of something un-essay-like—such as a recipe, how-to manual, or marriage license—and use .
Brenda Miller directs the MFA in Creative Writing and the MA in English Studies at Western Washington University. She is the author of four essay collections, including Listening Against the Stone, Blessing of the Animals, and Season of the Body.
In Hermit Crab Essays, author Kate Harding will help you explore all the different ways you can tell your narrative. “ Hermit crab essays ” is the term Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola use to describe writing that, like the crustacean, borrows a pre-existing external structure. “When I teach the hermit crab essay class,” writes Brenda Miller, “we begin by brainstorming the many different forms that exist for us to plunder for our own purposes.” The writer who coined and developed (to some extent) this form of essay would have us begin with the form and find the content to suit it.
Hermit Crab Essay. If you’re looking for a unique way to write an essay, to bend the genre, how about writing a Hermit Crab Essay? “This kind of essay appropriates existing forms as an outer covering, to protect its soft, vulnerable underbelly,” Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola write in their co-authored non-fiction craft book, Tell It benjaminpohle.com metaphor of the hermit crab is fitting.