Less Reality, More Fantasy!
October 10, 2017 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me up some reading that meets a specific theme: fantasy/fabulist creative nonfiction?

I'm looking for literary quality creative nonfiction that deals with the themes of fantasy, fabulism, magical realism, and/or the imaginary. Essays or other works that are primarily nonfiction but incorporate techniques of fantastical storytelling are also welcome. I'm also open to cross-genre work that blends nonfiction with poetry or fiction. Thanks.
posted by Kitty Stardust to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's not quite right, but you might be interested in Ursula LeGuin's Always Coming Home. It's fiction written in non-fictional style about a far-future society living in Northern California. It's part autobiography of one of the characters, part description of her people's mythology, music, culture, cooking, etc. The people in question feel like they could be indigenous people/First Nation/Native American, so it feels more like non-fiction than science fiction. It might be the opposite of what you want, but it dovetails nicely and it's fascinating.

I haven't read them, but you might also be interested in LeGuin's non-fiction essays about storytelling and writing. I believe some of them are collected in The Wave in the Mind as well as Steering the Craft.
posted by natabat at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Barry Malzberg's novelette "A Galaxy Called Rome" might be taken as creative nonfiction, although it's typically described as metafiction. The narrator lives in New Jersey, like Malzberg, and offers what he describes as notes about a science fiction story that can't be written, explaining nonfictional things about where the idea came from and why it can't be written and interleaving that commentary with fragments of the story and with bits from the narrator's everyday surroundings IIRC.

New Games Journalism and things like Sims and Dwarf Fortress diaries are whole subgenres of nonfiction that incorporate fantasy narratives. Getting even further afield, things like Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling blend imaginative storytelling and philosophical argument, and two books edited by David Rosenberg (Congregation and Communion) collect nonfiction essays from writers explaining how their personal readings of religious texts had impacted them as writers--I don't have them handy but I particularly recall one essay from the latter book being literary quality, engaging to non-religious readers, and relevant to how some Biblical story connected to the writer's imagination.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:21 AM on October 10, 2017

Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG is a nonfiction blog about landscape and architecture that often goes off into amazing flights of fantasy about the imaginary possibilities of real structures. A few quick picks -

slow motion demolition (and other stuff)
boundary markers as magical incantations
dankness and the future of cities
posted by moonmilk at 11:33 AM on October 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything podcast. It's unlike anything else I've listened to—it builds narratives that combine documentary, interview, and Walker's stream-of-consciousness and skate the line between fantastical satire and realistic reporting. Topics of interest range from media, technology, and surveillance to niche, obscure things like craft beer.

This might qualify as the fraternal twin/mirror image of what you're looking for, but how about fantasy that borrows from creative nonfiction? For instance, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities (descriptions of fantastical cities) or Stanislaw Lem's A Perfect Vacuum (reviews of imaginary books).
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 12:55 AM on October 11, 2017

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