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The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms

E&H Bookblog

The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms

Easty Lambert-Brown

Join us on Saturday, May 12 from 2-4 PM (selected contributor reading and discussion starts at 2:30) as we help launch The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms.

Within the recent explosion of creative nonfiction, a new type of form is quietly emerging, what Brenda Miller calls “hermit crab essays.” The Shell Game is an anthology of these intriguing essays that borrow their structures from ordinary, everyday sources: a recipe, a crossword puzzle, a Craig’s List ad. Like their zoological namesake, these essays do not simply wear their borrowed “shells” but inhabit them so perfectly that the borrowed structures are wholly integral rather than contrived, both shaping the work and illuminating and exemplifying its subject.

The Shell Game contains a carefully chosen selection of beautifully written, thought-provoking hybrid essays tackling a broad range of subjects, including the secrets of the human genome, the intractable pain of growing up black in America, and the gorgeous glow residing at the edges of the autism spectrum. Surprising, delightful, and lyric, these essays are destined to become classics of this new and increasingly popular hybrid form. 

The Shell Game is published by the University of Nebraska Press.

CONTRIBUTORS  In addition to The Shell Game, Michael Martone recently published his fourth book of essays: Brooding (University of Georgia Press). The Flatness of Other Landscapes won the AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction.  The Moon Over Wapakoneta: Fictions and Science Fictions from Indiana and Beyond will be published this fall by FC2. He lives in Tuscaloosa with poet Theresa Pappas and teaches at The University of Alabama.

Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey and currently lives and teaches in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the author of two chapbooks and four full-length collections, most recently the lyric-memoir i/o (Civil Coping Mechanisms), and Enter Your Initials For Record Keeping (Cobalt Press), a collection of essays on NBA Jam. Recent essays on topics ranging from long distance running to professional wrestling appear in The Collagist, Catapult, The Rumpus, Runner's World, and elsewhere.