Happy Book Birthday to The Shell Game!

Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re celebrating the First Book Birthday for The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms by Kim Adrian!

About the Book:

Within the recent explosion of creative nonfiction, a new type of form is quietly emerging, what Brenda Miller calls “hermit crab essays.” The Shell Game is an anthology of these intriguing essays that borrow their structures from ordinary, everyday sources: a recipe, a crossword puzzle, a Craig’s List ad. Like their zoological namesake, these essays do not simply wear their borrowed “shells” but inhabit them so perfectly that the borrowed structures are wholly integral rather than contrived, both shaping the work and illuminating and exemplifying its subject.

The Shell Game contains a carefully chosen selection of beautifully written, thought-provoking hybrid essays tackling a broad range of subjects, including the secrets of the human genome, the intractable pain of growing up black in America, and the gorgeous glow residing at the edges of the autism spectrum. Surprising, delightful, and lyric, these essays are destined to become classics of this new and increasingly popular hybrid form.



“If good creative writing sparks the instinct to write, The Shell Game provides ample embers to inspire a wide range of writers… The Shell Game offers an enjoyable read, but also a host of potential creative examples and exercises if one is willing to take the leap.” —Columbia Journal

“Being an active participant in the book may also result in you oohing and ahhing and aha!’ing a few times, and you’ll be tempted to explain to your husband your expressions when he asks, from his side of the sectional: “What?” But stop yourself: you won’t want to get into conversation with someone; keep reading. You can make him encourage him to read the book to discover the same things on his own later. Stay engaged.” —Hippocampus Magazine

“If you are looking for a book that fits into the genre of “Creative Nonfiction,” especially as an introduction, your best bet is to pick up The Shell Game immediately…This book is the science fiction of creative nonfiction, or better yet, the Ulysses of the modern essay.” —New Pages


“What happens when writers play with form? What essays may they then create? In the anthology The Shell Game, Kim Adrian has curated a selection of thirty essays that adopt different forms in order to present new ideas, compose startling images, and provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between form and content…The Shell Game may serve to expand what readers may think of when they think of the essay.” —Punctuate

“The essays in this collection bring with them a sense of hope about literature and its capacity for evolution and change.” —The Millions

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