I was surprised and heartened to see that John D’Agata is making two appearances today as part of Creative Nonfiction Week: 3:30 at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, eighth floor (panel discussion), and 6:30 PM, Ferguson Auditorium, 600 S. Michigan (reading). If you’re really looking for creative nonfiction, he’s a great choice. A great choice for better or worse; let me explain:

His collection of original essays, Halls of Fame, is a difficult book, sometimes frustrating, sometimes rewarding. One of the things I appreciate most about D’Agata, even when I wonder why he’s doing a certain thing, is that he’s obsessed with the form of the essay and really trying to push the boundaries of the genre. And the essay is an interesting thing, right now, to be an expert in. One one hand, you could argue that the genre is dying; on the other, you could argue that, with the rise of electronic media, more people are reading essays (broadly defined, but that’s always been the case) than ever. And D’Agata is on the vanguard of how the genre is defined and conceived.