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  • University of Georgia Press, 2012
  • ISBN: 9780811338507

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel

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For centuries writers have used participatory experience as a lens through which to better see the world at large and as a means of exploring the self. Considering various types of participatory writing as different strains of one style—immersion writing—Robin Hemley offers new perspectives and practical advice for writers of this nonfiction genre.

Immersion writing can be broken down into the broad categories of travel writing, immersion memoir, and immersion journalism. Using the work of such authors as Barbara Ehrenreich, Hunter S. Thompson, Ted Conover, A. J. Jacobs, Nellie Bly, Julio Cortazar, ond James Agee, Hemley examines these three major types of immersion writing and further identifies the sub¬≠categories of the quest, the experiment, the investigation, the infiltration, and the reënactment. Included in the book are helpful exercises, models for immersion writing, and a chapter on one of the most fraught subjects for nonfiction writers—the ethics and legalities of writing about other people.

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing recalibrates and redefines the way writers approach their relationship to their subjects. Suitable for beginners and advanced writers, the book provides an enlightening, provocative, and often amusing look at the ways in which nonfiction writers engage with the world around them.


"Hemley constructs a vocabulary and taxonomy for the immersion genre and makes a compelling argument for why these books matter, beyond the gimmickry, and why these stories hit home." — Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

"A Field Guide for Immersion Writing is indispensable. In it, Robin Hemley is very funny but serious all the while. He explains and defines and prompts and reports with great clarity, teaching and informing and urging as he entertains. The quotations and examples from accomplished writers are generous and just plain great, many of them from essays and articles and books I've missed, with lessons in the most unexpected places. 'A good book is always about more than one thing,' Robin says, and the Field Guide is a book about life as much as it's about writing. I mean, it's that important, whether you plan to write or not." — Bill Roorbach, author of Writing Life Stories and Contemporary Creative Nonfiction