The incredible Jo Ann Beard makes the leap to fiction
by Jo Ann Beard
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Jo Ann Beard is primarily known as a writer of that somewhat stigmatized genre, creative nonfiction. But what is creative nonfiction? How does it differ from the ineffably hipper "new journalism"? Same reliance on the stylistic techniques of fiction, but no facts, only memories and musings? Is "creative nonfiction" just the academy's mask for much-maligned memoir? For the fact is, those graduating from an MFA program like the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program, as Beard did in 1994, will likely need a day job. Beard, for one, became managing editor of the university's space-physics quarterly. She liked the comfort of it, and the flexible hours, and then on a day she left the office early, an unhinged Ph.D. student shot and killed the journal's editor—her close friend—as well as five others.
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