Lisa Nikolidakis on Spencer Wise’s “The Second-Worst Rug My Father’s Ever Seen”

I wrote this for Assay‘s “My Favorite Essay to Teach.” It was impossible to pick just one, but I do love this essay by Wise. Big thanks to Assay for the pub. If you teach nonfiction and they’re not on your radar, think about following them. They rule.

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

Nikolidakis Author Photo

Lisa Nikolidakis’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in BrevityPassages North, The Rumpus,[PANK], HobartThe Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. Her flash fiction won A Room Of Her Own’s Fall 2014 Orlando Prize and is forthcoming in Los Angeles Review. She teaches creative writing at The University of Evansville in Indiana.


One question that we investigate in my Creative Nonfiction course is how do we take that funny anecdote we tell at parties and turn it into compelling memoir? Spencer Wise’s “The Second-Worst Rug My Father’s Ever Seen,” which won Narrative Magazine’s 2013 Fall Contest, is a perfect model. Wise could easily have on his hands an essay that is only about the time he almost flunked out of school and his dad bailed him out, but I’m not sure any of us would care much. Instead, he gives us heart: a father-son story, one about…

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