Eleonora Rossi introduces herself as our new Creative Non-fiction editor.
I have always loved nonfiction. As a child, I used to spend inordinate amounts of time reading and re-reading Christiane F.’s Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1978) and Anne Frank’s Diary (1947) in particular. What brought these two texts together, in my eyes, was the fact that both allowed me to time-travel, to break the veil of linear temporality and to exist simultaneously beyond time and space. It was, to me, the essence of literature’s magic. They both showed me the potential for eternity that lies in the present, in the day-to-day, if one observes it from above, or perhaps just a little to the side. To me, this is the allure of creative nonfiction: its refusal to see reality as any less interesting than fiction. Of course, creative nonfiction is more than just memoirs: it includes personal essays, travel writing, food writing, biographies and autobiographies, and even blogs. All these forms provide factual information, while maintaining a focus on literary craft and narrative structure. They ask us to be curious, observant, and critical – but not without a creative flair.
Creative nonfiction demands a balance between factual information and literary technique. As the editor of this section of MIR Online, my job is to look for that balance and to create the conditions for it to emerge wherever (if ever) it is lacking. As a Creative Writing tutor, I have asked writers to look closer, to ask more questions, not to travel to remote landscapes only to leave their surroundings unexamined. I have asked my students to tell me about something real, in detail, no matter what: sometimes, this has been a car stuck in traffic for many long hours; other times, a family’s stories of trauma and displacement. It has also been traditional recipes, which have told me of different smells and textures, of many hands working together. In many ways, the public health crisis has also asked us to change our focus: it has created an ever-more pressing need for fictional, alternate realities, while also forcing us to look perhaps even too closely at the real world. In this forceful zooming in and slowing down, I suspect lie a wealth of stories waiting to be told.
As the new creative nonfiction editor at MIR Online, I look forward to reading just about anything you have to say. I will ask you not to lose your voice when providing factual detail, but also not to miss the specificity (that is, the magic) of language — even when talking about the most straightforward of topics. To me, writing nonfiction is an exercise in rupture, but also in endless, manifold reconnection.