Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Nonfiction Short Story

The National Magazine Awards are out with their 2011 finalists, recognizing the best in long-form journalism. For a complete list of finalists, including article links, check out Longform.org.

Long-form journalism allows for a much richer presentation--arguments can include more information, profiles can contain multiple illuminating anecdotes, etc. While many successful journalists also write non-fiction books, the long-form medium is great exactly because of its relative concision. Sometimes a topic is too specific or obscure to deserve (or more importantly, adequately market) a full-length book or biography, and so long-form articles in magazines and newspapers allow detailed inquiry on a much broader range of topics.

Economist Tyler Cowen's The Great Stagnation, an ebook about the size of two long New Yorker articles, is a fantastically successful attempt at experimentation with an unusual length. I hope we see more of these nonfiction novellas in the future.

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