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Whereas journalists once felt humbled by the novel, we now live in an age in which the novelist lives in a state of anxiety about nonfiction. You see it most clearly with films in the lust to be able to put at the end of the film, “This is a true story.”

Michael Lewis
Interviewed by Robert S. Boynton, The New New Journalism, 2005

Michael Lewis has experienced just such a Hollywood ending himself – his book, The Blind Side, was recently made into a movie that became a surprise box-office success. The book and movie tell the improbable story of Michael Oher, who faced homelessness and other adversities growing up in Memphis but with the help of a “second family” managed to become an All-American offensive tackle at the University of Mississippi and later a first-round draft pick and starter for the Baltimore Ravens. As part of STRANGER THAN FICTION, you’ll read an article from The New York Times Magazine taken from the book, see the movie, and also read another article by Malcolm Gladwell from The New Yorker about the perils of repetitive brain trauma in football at all levels. And this is only one day out of twenty-four in which we’ll show you how matter-of-fact can turn into matter-of-interest in the hands of an alert and imaginative writer and/or filmmaker.

The “literature of fact” encompasses both narratives of extraordinary interest and explorations of matters whose ins and outs rival those of even the best mystery books. You’ll read page-turning long-form articles and excerpts from books by A. J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, John McPhee, Jane Kramer, Calvin Trillin, Susan Orlean and others. The next morning, you’ll discuss these in a seminar-like setting to see what makes them (and their writers) tick; you’ll also consider some shorter pieces, interviews, driveway-moment broadcast segments by the likes of David Isay and Ira Glass, and even rare finds from YouTube. To top it all off, each afternoon you’ll watch unforgettable films made from nonfiction sources as well as documentaries guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The readings and screenings will cover a wide range of topics: people, places, food, war, politics, nature and the environment, medicine, art, music, sports, fashion, space exploration and more. Since good writing is contagious, we also hope you’ll feel the urge to develop one or several portfolio-ready short pieces based on your own observation and reporting about things that interest you and might interest others. For avid readers and budding writers only.

This 5-week program of learning by doing is open to students from the Houston metropolitan area who will be entering the 10th, 11th, 12th grades or college. To apply, complete the student section of the PDF form and give it to a teacher who knows you well or a counselor to fill out the recommendation section. Your teacher/counselor should mail the completed form along with an official transcript directly to:

Stranger than Fiction
Wonderworks
PO Box 667550
Houston, TX 77266-7550
Fax: 713.523.6145

To ensure full consideration, applications must be received by 3May; early applications are encouraged. All applicants will be notified by 28 May; early applicants will be notified sooner.
If you have any questions or need additional information, call 713.301.4882 or email info@wonderworkshouston.org.

This program is made possible in part by a grant from Houston Endowment Inc.