what is a hermit crab essay?

Within the recent explosion of creative nonfiction, a curious new sub-genre is quietly emerging. Hybrids in the truest sense, "hermit crab" essays borrow their structures from ordinary, extra-literary sources (a recipe, a police report, a pack of cards, an obituary, a questionnaire…) to use as a framework for a lyric meditation on the chosen subject. In the best examples, the borrowed structures are less contrived than inevitable, managing not only to give shape to the work but to illuminate and exemplify its subject.