"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose." – Zora Neale Hurston
Authors who write non-fiction generally love the research involved. The writers who made the "10 Top Literary Stunts" list in Time.com, however, may have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their efforts to be published. Still, I’m not sure if all ten are examples of stunts or legitimate research.
I think Douglas Brown may have had the most fun doing research for his book Just Do It How One Couple Turned Off the TV and Turned On Their Sex Lives for 101 Days (No Excuses!) Mr. Brown “…talked his wife into having intimate relations for 101 consecutive days in a quest to find out if such an endeavor is possible even with the pressures of parenthood and work looming over them daily…”
Research for The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs struck me as the funniest. “For one year, Jacobs lived according to each and every rule in the Old Testament. Everything upon which [a woman] lies during her impurity (meaning, menstruation) shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. During a certain time of the month, Jacobs can't touch or sit on anything his wife has occupied, not even in their own apartment. His wife finds this so irritating (apparently women don't like to be called unclean) that she makes a point to sit on every conceivable surface in their home, and Jacobs is forced to purchase a portable stool.”
I think, the greatest sacrifice in the name of research was done by Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book Nickel and Dimed, where she gave up her successful writer’s life to experience the struggle of working-class life in jobs where she earned around $6 per hour. “Although constantly exhausted and abused, Ehrenreich manages to support herself — thanks for the advice for her co-workers (waitresses, house cleaners, nurses' assistants) — but it's not easy. She nearly becomes homeless, even though she starts her project with $1,000 in seed money.”
Other books on the list included, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Word Freak Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble by Stefan Fatsis; Newjack, Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover; Paper Lion by George Plimpton; Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson;Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly; and, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose. More details about these ‘stunts’ are listed in the article.
What do you think—stunts or research? What lengths will you go to for publication?
Coming Attraction: Some of you may remember the blog I wrote about the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. I admitted I had a difficult time writing sex scenes and according the comments on that post, I’m not alone. Fortunately, C. Margery Kempe, author of the sexy thriller CHASTITY FLAME! Has agreed to do a guest post on Monday, with helpful hints on how to write a sex scene. Don’t miss it!
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: Zora Neale Hurston, 10 Top Literary Stunts, Just Do It , The Year of Living Biblically , Kingsolver, Ehrenreich, C. Margery Kempe,