Girlhood, topsoil, and small breeds

Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and quarterly reading series, brought to you by NarrativelyThe RumpusCatapultLongreadsGranta, and Guernica. Each essay in this newsletter has been selected by the editors at the above publications as the best of the week, delivered to you all in one place. Writing can keep us connected, even while we’re social-distancing.

All that Was Innocent and Violent: Girlhood in Post-Revolution Iran

by Naz Riahi (photo illustration by Longreads)

They moved to the suburb, in part, for the same reasons many young couples with children everywhere in the world, do — for space and a quiet place to raise their family. They moved also to get away from the chaos of Tehran, a city that was changing rapidly, seemingly overnight, after The Revolution — becoming overbearing with rules, regulations and unexpected dangers.

Read more at Longreads

Gathering Visions for the End of the World

by Virginia Marshall

Perhaps it is living where I do now, out among the places where most of our food comes from. Or perhaps it is that I am listening to my grandma, who has been sounding the alarm even with her compromised mind. And I’m starting to wonder: How quickly will the end of the world arrive? Aside from the sea levels and the temperatures rising, which are hard to predict and impossible to forecast, there is the more solid, tangible inevitability of the soil running out. Apparently, the plants we have grown to love eating have been eating, too. They have been munching on the nitrogen and phosphorus in the dirt and when they die, they are ripped out before they can give anything back to the land that made them.

Read more at Catapult

The Beach

by Laura Cumming

This is how it began, and how it would end, on the long pale strand of a Lincolnshire beach in the last hour of sun, the daylight moon small as a kite in the sky. Far below, a child of three was playing by herself with a new tin spade. It was still strangely warm in that autumn of 1929, and she had taken off her plimsolls to feel the day’s heat lingering in the sand beneath her feet. Short fair hair, no coat, blue eyes and dress to match: that was the description later given to the police.

Read more at Granta

Small Breeds

by Jackie Connelly

In Washington, DC, Big Things are happening all the time. One’s mere proximity to all the Big Things increases the likelihood that you will become part of them. Something spectacular is always lurking around a corner, waiting to swallow you and then spit you out as a sharper version of yourself. All your soft parts whittled away, sculpted into something ultra-useful, something built to endure.

Read more at The Rumpus

My Secret Life as a Coronavirus Nomad

by JB Nicholas

Meanwhile, after work, I managed to avoid being homeless for two months by couch-surfing with friends in the city, and with Jen in Westchester on the weekends, and then staying with a new lover while waiting for a check to finance a new place to live, and a new life. I have rebuilt my life before. It gets tougher, not easier, each time, but I’ve done it enough times to know what it takes and I’ve always been able to do it. I didn’t think this time would be any different. 

Read more at Narratively

Writers’ Resources

  • Read Mark Bibbins and Paul Lisicky in conversation at Guernica

  • Check out this amazing list of free (virtual) resources for writers who are trying to keep putting words down even though it feels like everything is crumbling, from Longreads

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Until next Monday,


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