Sarah Einstein on Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping

Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir SarahEinstein(University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014), and numerous essays and short stories. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing with a secondary specialty in Rhetoric and Composition at Ohio University.

This Wednesday, I’m rereading Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping. This is perhaps the eighth or ninth copy of the book I’ve owned, because it’s also the book I most give away, although it’s nearly a tie with the author’s equally lovely Three Dog Life. There is also a copy on my iPad. I don’t turn to that one often; it’s the kind of book where the physicality of the prose matters, all that white space on the page, and white space on a screen just doesn’t have the same impact. But I keep it there, and therefore nearly also always with me, because I talk about writing a lot—with colleagues, with students, with people at parties who wish that I would talk about something else, for the love of God!—and I find myself returning to it again to talk about some element of craft: first, second, and third person perspectives, direct address, oblique address, the function of line breaks in prose, the construction of crots, etc. Really, there is an entire primer on the art and craft of creative nonfiction embedded in this book. I’ve used it as the central text in a beginning creative nonfiction workshop, and it works very well for that. But that isn’t why I’m rereading it today.

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