What’s the Story #72

"What we do here at Creative Nonfiction is not a game; it's work we take very seriously"

I first saw this machine in the student union building at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. CMU is a way station in my various running routes, kind of a middle point in my run, where I can go to the bathroom, hydrate, and maybe even answer a text or two. But one day, walking through the union, I saw this Short Édition dispenser, nestled in a corner and surrounded by a few easy chairs and coffee table. It is a tall, narrow and neatly designed device, and it invites you to do something really cool—press a button and get a short story.

I pressed the button, and a story came right out for me on a long, narrow strip of paper. The Short Édition dispenser at CMU has two buttons, one that dispenses stories (or poems) of international interest—original works as well as classics. The other button offers work from CMU faculty members and students.

I was pretty excited after my run, and, I admit, a little annoyed, and immediately did some research. I learned that Short Édition is a French company and relatively new, only a couple of years old. So far, they have placed a couple hundred of their devices at airports, university campuses, municipal buildings, and popular cafes throughout Europe, southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States.

My annoyance—you might have guessed!—was at what was missing. What about creative nonfiction? Turns out, when I contacted them a few days later, the folks at Short Édition are very familiar with Creative Nonfiction, and, like many of our readers, are loyal and regular recipients of our Sunday Short Reads email—very brief essays (up to 1,000 words) from twenty-five years of our archives, along with new work and selections from other publications, like Brevity and Sweet Lit, delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning. In fact, they had been about to contact us to see if we might establish a working partnership to include more contemporary nonfiction along with short fiction and poetry on the dispensers. And now, it has happened.

Soon, readers will be able to find samples from Creative Nonfiction on any Short Édition dispenser. I’m tremendously excited about this partnership, which is all part of the work we do to keep the genre—the literature of reality—maturing and growing and reaching readers and writers wherever they live, from Pittsburgh to Paris and far beyond.


This issue of Creative Nonfiction is the product of another interesting collaboration. With the help of two guest editors—Sasha Barab and Alan Gershenfeld, from the Center for Games and Impact at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University—we’ve collected a terrific group of essays about games and play. Our call for submissions for this issue asked for stories exploring how games are more than just entertainment, how they change us in ways outside the gaming context, and our writers delivered. You’ll find stories here about everything from World of Warcraft to an elaborate make-believe game featuring dinosaurs, and I hope you find them both transformative and, yes, entertaining.

But I also want you to know that what we do here at Creative Nonfiction is not a game; it’s work we take very seriously. It’s a commitment to the genre: to continuing to publish the best work, of any size, style, and form; to spreading the word, not just with collaborations but also through our many education programs, conferences, and webinars; and to taking advantage of every possible opportunity to benefit our readers and writers.

About the Author

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Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is the author and editor of more than thirty books, including You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction–from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between, Almost Human: Making Robots Think, The Best Seat in Baseball: But You Have to Stand, Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather, and the award-winning, Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation.

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