Many literary lovers love the likes of fiction, but there is another faction of the literary world that often gets overlooked, that of non-fiction or creative non-fiction.
The reluctance to read non-fiction stems from the inability of many writers to write something exciting. After all, who wants to read about someone’s life? I was in that same boat until I discovered Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. While that book helped bring in the Beat Generation, it did much more. It defined history up to the 50’s, politics, society, and religion. Not only was it a book about one man’s trek across America, it was a book about breaking out of a bubble that was formed for you by society and politics. It was about critically thinking for yourself. Though I don’t condone Kerouac’s actions in the book, nor his lifestyle, he brought about a unique style of prose and application. For those who are fond of non-fiction (even if you’re not), here are the five most underrated authors of non-fiction that you should consider:
- David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim: His previous book, Me Talk Pretty One Day formed the basis of Sedaris’ work. Though he had previous works published prior to Me Talk Pretty… this book signified his introduction into literary fame. His follow-up Dress Your Family… is a continuation of his sarcastic tone about the society and life in which he grew up. It is a heartfelt book that focuses not only on the societal pressures of one being homosexual and trying to hide it, but rather being trapped in a world where walls closed in around him. Sedaris brings about the injustices and cruelty of human nature no matter our race, gender, religion, or background.
- Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli: This humorous book of essays truly identifies one woman’s struggle growing up in small town USA to big life USA. Her comparison of life on the farm to life in New York are humorous and goes to show that no matter where we grow up or how we’re raised, we end up, ultimately, where we want to be. This is a coming of age story that’s not as subtle as some might think.
- Joan Didion, Political Fictions: This vicious commentary on our political process and politicians is chilling and offers solutions to our problems. But also, the book is a looking glass into our future as a people. Didion’s prose in this book is that of a fiction novel, and offers a glimpse into our future, politically. It is controversial and conversational. Political Fictions helps us ask the question, “How far does the rabbit hole go?”
- Norman Mailer, Countless number of essays: While Mailer was an author of fiction, he made his statements through personal essays. His most famous essay, “The White Negro” Mailer discusses violence and sex in 1960’s America. Like so many of his essays, which have been attempted to be anthologized, but to no avail, are, much like Jack Kerouac, counter cultural. Mailer’s controversial lifestyle extended itself into his writings about the hatred of government and policy.
- Tom Wolfe, The Pump House Gang: This book was a critique on society post-WWII. It emphasized the basis of American life in regards to our economy, politics, and society as a whole in regards to economic prosperity. This book caused much controversy due to his offensive language toward policy; however, his approach was heralded as unique and impactful playing off the Beat style of writing.