Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and quarterly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Longreads, Tin House, Granta, 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. It may be the start of a new work week, but at least we have this great new writing to get us through it.
Whatever Happened to _________?
by Anonymous (art by Holly Stapleton)
These are points on a line: the rise of potential, then the particularly feminized fall embedded in gentle, hetero domesticity. It’s a wistful blend of longing, regret and admiration. For the story to work the way it always works, the woman has to be better than average. She has to shine. Then she conforms. Then she disappears, fading into the ambient noise of a dishwasher and the washing machine, the TV, lawnmower, barking dog, and family phones. She comes to mark a spot in memory, on a real writer’s path. It’s one of those story structures that’s so pervasive, people harbor and project it onto the arc of a faint career well in advance. There might even be a sort of satisfaction taken in the comfort of assuming this path is inevitable for other people, those women writers who once foolishly set out to have it all.
The Proustian Wilbur Bud
by Caralyn Green
It was easier for us to meet at the café than at my parents’ house, where I was living out of boxes. My parents let their disapproval be known. They told me they just wanted me to be happy and could see that I was not. I was convinced I could be happy, if only I could be more of what this man wanted and less of who I had become. If only I could be the past me rather than the present me. Then he would love me the way he’d loved me at the start, when he’d slowly kissed my lifeline, sunk his lips, face, future into the palm of my hand.
Living in Paris, I'm Just Another American—and the French Don't Seem to Mind
by Kate Gavino
In Broad Daylight
by Johanna Ekström
I like the phrase ‘broad daylight.’ It sounds so lovely. Like a room with all the windows thrown wide open. Inside and out, and no line between them. Or, rather: no boundary one must watch out for. But the phrase ‘in broad daylight’ is often used in stories about something bad. Anyway, I was attacked in broad daylight on a pedestrian mall in Quartier Latin, right out in the open.
I Survived My Own R. Kelly Story
by Robin Jones
I waited until 11 p.m. to take a shower. I turned off all the lights, afraid that Paul or someone else might be watching from the window. I had never taken a shower in complete darkness. The hot water cascaded down. I felt like if I opened my mouth, I might drown in the darkness.
Come to Guernica’s Books & Bottles event on Tuesday, 1/21 for an evening of readings from Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger and wine selected to pair with the book.
Reminder: The Memoir Monday reading series has switched from a monthly schedule to quarterly. The next event will be in March—in San Antonio, Texas, during the AWP conference! Details coming soon.
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Until next Monday,