I came across the term “narrative nonfiction” in the New York Times article titled “What should children read?” (November 22). It seems to be a journalist’s and book editors’ favorite jargon from the following sentence:
What schools really need isn’t more nonfiction but better nonfiction, especially that which provides good models for student writing. Most students could use greater familiarity with what newspaper, magazine and book editors call “narrative nonfiction”: writing that tells a factual story, sometimes even a personal one, but also makes an argument and conveys information in vivid, effective ways.
What does “narrative nonfiction” really mean? I recognize it is immediately followed by a definition, but I feel like I am still missing something crucial. Why the qualifier "narrative"? Isn’t it a given that nonfiction (story) is narrative on its own, obliterating the need to expressly mention "narrative"?
What is a typical format of “narrative nonfiction”? Or is this perhaps some kind of umbrella term for personal essays on daily matters and private diaries on the one side, and news reports and expository comments on the other?