I first saw Dinty W. Moore’s latest book, Between Panic and Desire, at the local library where I often work when I can’t concentrate at home. Interesting name and interesting title I thought. I picked it up and dipped in to see what it was all about. The prologue proved intriguing, but I wasn’t sure. I mean I have a lot of books to read these days. And what is creative non-fiction anyways?
When I found out the author was coming to town to give a reading, however, I figured it might present an interview possibility. Plus, it was published by The University of Nebraska Press whose books I invariably enjoy and the author now lives and works in Ohio. I like to talk about Ohio writers when I can.
So I went ahead and read the book. Am I glad I did. I meant to follow up my my Q&A with Dinty sooner but time got away from me. Allow me to post some belated thoughts to go with the interview.
I don’t share a great deal in common with Dinty Moore. I didn’t grow up watching TV or obsessed with Richard Nixon, I haven’t done drugs, I haven’t been searching for a father figure, and I don’t have a name that causes people to ask “is that your real name?” for example. But I enjoyed this short and readable book.
Moore uses creative chapters (quizzes, lists, imaginary conversations and interviews – using real quotes, etc.) to think about the role of perception and memory in our lives. It is an interesting stew – sorry, had to do it – of pop culture, sociology, psychology, commentary, criticism, and memoir.
What makes the work interesting is that you would almost assume that this kind of writing would feel like a gimmick; that it would slip into cheesiness or empty fluff. But Moore manages to bring both a sense of humor and a willingness to discuss serious issues. Like any good memoirist he uses his own life to help us think about wider issues and connects history to our daily lives.
But Moore never gets maudlin nor does he become overly political or preachy. He simply offers you the hard earned insights and ruminations that have come from his introspection. The creativity and style he brings to the project makes it that much more enjoyable.
If like me, you have ever wondered what “creative non-fiction” meant, Moore – who teaches it – offers a good example in his latest work. But you don’t have to be a student of writing to enjoy it just of life.