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The Best American Newspaper Narratives of 2012

Edited by George Getschow

Publication Year: 2014

This anthology collects the ten winners of the 2012 Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, which is hosted by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas. The contest honors exemplary narrative work and encourages narrative nonfiction storytelling at newspapers across the United States. First place winner: Eli Saslow,“Life of a Salesman,” published by the Washington Post, is about a Manassas, Va., swimming pool salesman experiencing the unraveling of his decades-long success story. Second place: Kelley Benham, “Never Let Go,” published by the Tampa Bay Times, is her personal account of the months following the birth of her premature daughter. Third place: Anne Hull, “Breaking Free,” published by the Washington Post, traces a teenage girl’s climb out of poverty as she prepares for college. Runner-ups include: John Branch, “The Day a Mountain Moved” (New York Times); Dan Barry, “Donna’s Diner: In the Hard Fall of a Favorite Son, a Reminder of a City’s Scars” (New York Times); Rosalind Bentley, “The Nation’s Poet” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution); Mark Johnson, “I Boy” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel); Monica Rhor, “Homelessness” (Houston Chronicle); Louis Hansen, “The Girl Who Took Down the Gang” (Virginian-Pilot); and Martin Kuz, “Soldiers Recount 60-Second Attack That Left Them Reflecting on Life and Death” (Stars and Stripes).

Published by: University of North Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-v

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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p. ix

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George Getschow

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pp. 1-12

In American literature, whether fiction or nonfiction, the best narratives capture the absurdities, the contradictions, the paradoxes, the sadnesses and the glories of everyday life in the poetry of everyday speech. The best American narratives arouse powerful feelings from deep...

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pp. 13-15

Over the past 10 years, the Mayborn has conducted writing contests and workshops to encourage journalists and nonfiction authors across the country to produce “original” nonfiction literature in the form of reported narratives, personal essays and book manuscripts...

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Life of a Salesman

Eli Saslow

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pp. 17-36

He had always managed to find optimism in even the worst circumstances, and here was another chance: a heat advisory, 98 degrees and rising at 11 a.m., the hottest day of the year yet....

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Never Let Go

Kelley Benham

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pp. 37-99

Our baby came swirling into view in black and white, week after week, in the grainy wedge on the ultrasound monitor. First a dark featureless pool, then a tiny orb, then budding arms and legs and finally long fingers and a recognizable profile. Precisely on...

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Breaking Free

Anne Hull

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pp. 101-114

Week after week, the mailman climbed the steep hill of Shenango Street to the house with the busted porch steps. "Dear Miss Rouzzo," the letters began, or "Dear Tabitha Rouzzo." The college catalogues barely fit in the mailbox. They stuck out like gift-wrapped presents...

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Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

John Branch

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pp. 115-170

The snow burst through the trees with no warning but a last-second whoosh of sound, a two-story wall of white and Chris Rudolph’s piercing cry: “Avalanche! Elyse!”...

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Donna’s Dinner In the Hard Fall of a Favorite Son, A Reminder of a City's Scars

Dan Barry

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pp. 171-179

He walks the city streets with that block of a body angled headfirst, as if determined to break through life's defensive line. Often he is shouting with urgent intent, trying to tell the people of Elyria —something. But what?...

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The Nation’s Poet

Rosalind Bentley

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pp. 181-194

The National Book Festival along the Mall in Washington is thronged with readers and authors who've come to revel in the written word on this fall day in 2004....

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“I Boy”

Mark Johnson

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pp. 195-209

Isabella, a pink-cheeked lightning bolt in a Dora the Explorer shirt, uttered her first sentence around age 2; it was nothing her parents had expected. The two little words foretold a struggle over a fact of her birth....

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Young Houstonians Go from Homelessness to College

Monica Rhor

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pp. 211-219

That first night, surrounded by strangers, still shell-shocked after her family was cast onto the street, Tiara Reado shrank back into childhood. The teenager stayed glued to her mother's side, following her around the Star of Hope shelter like a toddler....

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The Girl Who Took Down the Gang

Louis Hansen

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pp. 221-234

A young man was beaten to death by gang members who had been terrorizing Norfolk. Skyler Hayward’s testimony proved vital to putting many of them in jail. During five years in solitary confinement, she gained perspective – and a mentor and friend....

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Soldiers Recount 60-Second Attack That Left Them Reflecting on Life and Death

Martin Kuz

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pp. 235-242

MUCHAI KALAY, Afghanistan—Staff Sgt. Damian Remijio and Spc. Zachary Fitch lay on the ground as a grenade bounced down a pile of rocks toward them. Metal struck stone with awful clarity....

Judges’ Profiles

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pp. 243-247

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415599
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415490

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 881137533
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Best American Newspaper Narratives of 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Journalism -- Awards -- United States.
  • Feature stories -- United States.
  • Reportage literature, American.
  • People with social disabilities -- United States.
  • People with social disabilities -- Press coverage -- United States.
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