What Cannot Be Undone: True Stories of a Life in Medicine Nonfiction by Walter M. Robinson University of New Mexico Press, February 2022 ISBN: 978-0-8263-6371-8 Paperback, 176pp; $19.95
Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, What Cannot Be Undone is Walter M. Robinson’s debut essay collection. In it, he shares surprising stories of illness and medicine that do not sacrifice hard truth for easy dramatics. These true stories are filled with details of difficult days and nights in the world of high-tech medical care, and they show the ongoing struggle in making critical decisions with no good answer. This collection presents the raw moments where his expertise in medical ethics and pediatrics are put to the test. He is neither saint, nor hero, nor wizard. Robinson admits that on his best days he was merely ordinary. Yet in writing down the authentic stories of his patients, Robinson discovers what led him to the practice of medicine—and how his idealism was no match for the realities he faced in modern health care.
Walter M. Robinson was selected by guest judge Megan Stielstra as the winner of River Teeth‘s 2020 Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. His book, What Cannot Be Undone, will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in Spring 2022. Stielstra writes that Dr. Robinson’s book gave her was “the deep humanity of the people called to save our lives.” Dr. Robinson also received a cash prize of $1,000.
The 2021 Literary Nonfiction Book Prize officially opened on August 1 with a deadline of October 31. The guest judge is award-winning author Rigoberto González. The winner receives $1,000 and book publication by The University of New Mexico Press.
Runner Up Souvenirs from Paradise by Erin Langner
Three Finalists Afterlight by Joshua Bernstein How to Live by Kelle Groom Swampitude by Quitman Marshall
Five Semi-Finalists The Mothers by Rebe Huntman Homemaker by Jessica Johnson From Your Friend Carey Dean by Lisa Knopp Poisons of War by Sabrina Veroczi The Mary Years by Julie Marie Wade
Love creative nonfiction in bite-sized form? Literary magazine Creative Nonfiction has you covered with Sunday Short Reads. This is flash nonfiction delivered weekly straight to your inbox. The pieces featured in this mailing are hand-selected from the archives of Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Diagram, River Teeth, and Sweet Lit. They will also sometimes feature the occasional original works, too.
Check out past issues here, and consider subscribing today to satisfying your nonfiction cravings.
Interested in submitting your own nonfiction? They are open to submissions of nonfiction by older writers (age 60+) through February 22.
In April 2020, biannual print literary magazine River Teeth launched the online weekly journal Beautiful Things. This publication is devoted to very brief nonfiction that finds beauty in the everyday. Readers can subscribe to receive the latest micro-essay in their inbox every Monday morning. Today’s essay is “Before the First Frost” by Stacy Murison.
Beautiful Things was inspired by Michelle Webster-Hein’s essay “Beautiful Things” which was originally published in Volume 15, Number 1 of River Teeth. This column is co-edited by Michelle Webster-Hein and Jill Christman.
River Teeth is devoted to publishing the best creative nonfiction, including narrative reportage, essays, and memoir. Stop by their listing on NewPages to learn more about them and their new online publication.