True Story

True Story is a new home for longform nonfiction narratives.

Published monthly by the editors of Creative Nonfiction magazine, each pocket-size issue of True Story showcases one exceptional essay by one exceptional writer. From issue to issue, this new mini-magazine features the widest possible variety of voices and styles and subjects.

Offering a vivid report from real life, each issue of True Story is a small immersion in a larger-than-life story or experience that makes us think differently about what it means to be human. 

Big stories. Small size. Delivered monthly.

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True Story, Issue #14

"The River of No Return" by Debra Gwartney

Two young mothers grapple with isolation and unforgiving terrain in this braided narrative of the American West. Trailblazing 19th century missionary Narcissa Whitman’s efforts to build a home end in tragedy, and more than a hundred years later, fifth-generation Idahoan Debra Gwartney ignores her best instincts and joins her family on an ill-advised Fourth of July rafting trip.

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True Story, Issue #13

"Beasts among Us" by Erica Berry

On a trip to rural Wisconsin—the epicenter of werewolf sightings in the US—Erica Berry searches for the elusive Beast of Bray Road and the local author whose stories have helped keep the legend alive. Do werewolves and other supernatural creatures really lurk in our midst, or do they just haunt our imagination?

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True Story, Issue #12
"Spinning" by Jill Christman

For years, Jill Christman has been waiting for her long-lost lover to communicate with her from beyond the grave. Finally, he walks into her early-morning exercise class, setting her world awhirl.

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True Story, Issue #11
"79" by Brian Broome

The 79 bus loops around the housing projects in the East Hills of Pittsburgh all day—“like a noose,” as reluctant resident Brian Broome puts it. This might be one of Pittsburgh’s least tourist-friendly neighborhoods, and Broome an extremely uncomfortable tour guide … but the trip is well worth taking.

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True Story, Issue #10
"Tarot of Transformation" by Sonja Swift

In vignettes structured through the 22 cards of the Tarot deck’s Major Arcana, a young woman kayaks the rough waters of the Pacific, journeys through the Colombian Amazon, hikes through summer in Alaska, hops trains from coast to coast, and wanders the streets of San Francisco. Is she following her wayfaring spirit, attempting to quell her wanderlust, or is she running from something even she doesn’t understand?

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True Story, Issue #9
"Resurrection" by Rebeca Dunn-Krahn

After a family member, a friend, and string of pets die within the span of a few months, Rebeca and her family are finding grief exhausting. When one of their chickens starts exhibiting strange symptoms, they do everything they can to keep from having to suffer through yet another death. Can they defy the adage, "a sick chicken is a dead chicken"?


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True Story, Issue #8
"Rendezvous" by Renée Branum

Growing up encamped at an 18th century French fort isn't easy. For a teenaged historical reenactor, costumes and customs blur the already confusing lines between past and present, and between make-believe and reality.


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True Story, Issue #7
"Take Your Son to Work Day" by Andrew Maynard

In "Take Your Son to Work Day,” writer Andrew Maynard—young, directionless, sort of a screw-up—shadows his lawyer father during the final appeals process for a notorious murderer on death row. But will he learn anything from the experience?


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True Story, Issue #6
"Wider than the Sky" by Phyllis Beckman

One small observation over dinner—a husband’s dilated pupil—upends a young couple’s expectations for their life together and reveals how incredibly fragile our identities are. In this story of love and loss, Phyllis Beckman explores the ways the complex, adaptable structures of the brain can react to trauma and ultimately the question, What makes you you?

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True Story, Issue #5
"How to Survive an Atomic Bomb" by Edward McPherson

In the latest installment of True Story we travel back to the anything-goes days leading up to the July 1945 detonation of the first atomic bomb at Trinity Site in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Edward McPherson takes readers on a tour of the site, exploring the history of the atomic bomb, as well as the modern-day challenges still posed by our nuclear arsenal.

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True Story, Issue #4
"Juliet, Juliet" by Joy Pope 

A mid-life crisis can take many unlikely forms. In this modern day, real life Walter Mitty story, a middle-aged mom of two struggles to escape the tug of a persistent daydream in which her younger self globetrots with a half-dressed Jeremy Renner. 


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True Story, Issue #3
"Muzzled" by Gabriela Denise Frank 

On her eighteenth birthday, Gabriela Denise Frank asks her father to take her shooting in the desert—a father-daughter bonding day. But are there other motives behind her request? This far-ranging discussion of guns, ballistics, mass shootings, and the psychology of abuse ends in a simple question: Will she, or won’t she?


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True Story, Issue #2
"Trip to the Zoo" by Steven Church 

In September 2012, twenty-five-year-old David Villalobos abruptly dived from a monorail ride into the Siberian tiger pit at the Bronx Zoo. In True Story #2, Steven Church retraces (some of) Villalobos’s steps in an attempt to understand the impulse that drives him—and others like him—to get close to a predator.


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True Story, Issue #1
"Fruitland" by Steven Kurutz 

The premiere issue of True Story tells the story of Donnie and Joe Emerson, two brothers from Fruitland, WA, an isolated community outside of Spokane, who as teenagers in the late 1970s self-recorded an album in a log-cabin studio their father built for them on the family farm. The album, Dreamin' Wild, flopped upon its release but was rediscovered in a junk shop in 2008 and reissued by Light in the Attic records to critical and cult acclaim--but not without bringing out ghosts from the past and taking an emotional toll and the brothers and their family.

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