September 1, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Writers Harvest | The Nonfiction of Dinty W. Moore, Sept. 22

The 2016 Writers Harvest welcomes nonfiction writer Dinty W. Moore, along with writers Gwen E. Kirby, Kathryn Nuernberger, and David Sanders, for a reading on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m., in the Walter Hall Rotunda; $5 suggested donation.

By Morgan Cappel, intern for the Office of Special Programs Here, she offers an overview of Moore’s work

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore teaches creative nonfiction at Ohio University and is the author of Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals, the memoir Between Panic & Desire, and other books. Winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize, he has published in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harper’s, and The New York Times Sunday Magazine, among numerous others. (Moore’s newest book, The Story Cure, will be released in May 2017.) He also edits Brevity, an online journal of flash nonfiction, and, most importantly, he is deathly afraid of polar bears.

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is a sort of advice column for writers. Moore takes questions from well-known essayists and gives them answers that are sometimes unexpected, often witty, and always wise. He pairs each question with an essay that demonstrates the advice he gives. This is a peculiar concept—particularly for those like Roxane Gay, who wonder, “Why do so many writers only write about writing?”—but this book about writing packs a punch.

In the introduction, Moore assures us: “This is the most important book ever published, except for a very old book that Moses started writing back in 800 BCE, one that a bunch of saints and raggedy disciples had to finish for him over the next thousand years.” Turning the page, I want to believe him, and after reading his first essay, “Of Old Girlfriends,” I’m ready to trust his zany premise entirely. Because the book is hilarious, and I devour it like sugar-sticky candy.

In that essay, inspired by a question from Phillip Lopate, Moore wonders how he can write about lovers from the past without seeming like a “male chauvinist pig.” Moore suggests, firstly, not being one, but on a more serious note, he recommends taking on a sort of writing persona. So, he does just this.

In “Of Old Girlfriends,” Moore becomes a kind of character, guiding us through all of his past loves in an almost apologetic tone that emphasizes his awkwardness and inexperience more so than anything else. Because he makes himself vulnerable, we wish that there were more girlfriends—more Maureens, more Stephanies, and more Shellys. Moore suggests that Lopate, so as not to be a “male chauvinist pig,” makes himself “just vulnerable enough that the readers want to tuck you in and feed you soup.” What results, though, is a feeling that it’s me, the reader, who has been nourished by a caring writer. In his work, Moore always reaches out to engage with us.

We’ll be lucky to have that opportunity to break bread with him at Writers Harvest, where his wit, charm, and deathly fear of polar bears will once again be on display.



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