Reading Personal Essays Can't Remedy All Your Woes But It Can Help...
Welcome to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Granta, Guernica, Oldster Magazine, Literary Hub — and now many additional publications.
In addition to the weekly curation, there are now occasional original personal essays under the heading of First Person Singular, for paying subscribers. If you haven’t become a paid subscriber, please consider becoming one.
The fourth original essay, published in First Person Singular in June, is Bargaining for My Life in the Sanctuary of the Woods, by Memoir Monday editor Sari Botton, and excerpt of her memoir, And You May Find Yourself… The fifth original essay is coming later this week.
Essays from partner publications…
Where You Want to Be: Notes on Listening to Taking Back Sunday to Make White Friends
by Dujie Tahat
“Art is never just art, and whiteness’ vision of the world doesn’t include me in it. It took getting as close to it as I could—and almost losing myself entirely—to find that out. I walked away from a pre-set life in corporate America, a wife and kids, a 401k with a generous company matching program, and an assured life held within the confines of a suburban white-picket fence.”
by Ilana Bean
“These whimsical miniature street systems are at the heart of what my mom thinks is vital and good. They are tiny utopias she is building — strange, if somewhat boring, microparadises. A traffic garden is a world where everyone obeys traffic laws. Nobody speeds, and children are raised to have observant, intuitive relationships with transportation.”
Wherever I Am, I Write From a Place of Grief
by Matt Ortile
“To connect with and commemorate her, I've been writing about her. To her. While writing my first book, I faltered during its gestation. Frustrated with the arduous path to publication, I asked Mom, "Who would even read it?" She said, "I would." Ever since, she has been my North Star, my eternal audience of one. I knew, even then, I would write about what she said to me. That tension between living the moment and writing the moment, as a memoirist, never fades. At this point, it feels natural.”
They Say It Only Takes One: My Year of Trying to Get an Agent, and Get Pregnant
by Emily Lackey
"For as long as I’ve been a writer, the comparison that I’ve heard the most frequently used by artists of my ilk is that writing a book is like having a baby. As someone who has never had a baby, I imagine the truth of this likeness is that both take time and that both, once completed, are sent out into the world with little control over what happens next. But what the comparison between writing a book and having a baby gets wrong is the assumption that the person writing the book or birthing that baby is in a position to both publish a book and procreate.”
My “40 Over 40” Photo Shoot
by Sari Botton
"‘I came this close to canceling,’ I confessed between sobs. ‘I feel so conflicted about doing this for myself.’…I explained that the most difficult hurdle was the indulgence, and the idea of treating myself to something focused on my appearance—even though I’d convinced myself it was a sort of political act to do so at an age when our culture treats women as invisible."
Essays from around the web…
Those Dark Voices Can't Be Trusted—You Are Enough
by Meghan Cliffel
“And it was in that moment that I re-learned a lesson I have re-learned thousands of times: The voices in my head cannot be trusted. They want it to be controlled, engineered, and well-planned. They are anxious if things don’t go their way and if things get messy. And with young children, things almost never go your way and are almost always messy. The voices are bad advisors. Unqualified for this job with real live children.”
How Sex Work Prepared Me For a Career in Advertising
by Lu Chekowsky
“I didn’t understand until recently that my life in sex and advertising go together like chocolate and peanut butter; speaking to each other in sweet and salty tongues, intertwined, defining the thrust of my life. What do they have in common besides everything? Image and desire and money and perfection and love and loneliness and desperation and aspiration and hope. In both of these industries, it’s been my main responsibility to make you want and want and want some more; to never have enough. In sex and in advertising, it is very bad for business for you to feel full.”
When My Father Died, I Was Relieved, But An Unearthed Childhood Photo Has Me Wondering More
by Kelli Dunham
"When I was 12, my dad developed lung cancer. I felt sad to watch him suffer so much from ultimately futile treatments — but the weaker he got, the less afraid I felt."
What Happy Thoughts Can Do: As Seen Through Episodes
by Shanisha Branch
“For as long as you can remember, your hair has felt like something to be at war with. You’ve been trained to cover, restrain, and hate it. As if your unruly ends deserved destruction. It hadn’t happened until you were 19, grown enough to decipher truth from lies, that you fully understood - Your hair, in its most natural state, wasn’t something to tame or train or tuck underneath satin hats or bonnet wraps. It was a beautiful, outward reflection of your inner being, a piece of your heritage your mother and sisters never wanted to acknowledge. You wondered, for years, why your mother hated to see natural hair in its natural glory. You wondered if she had picked up that particular disgust from someone else. However she came to her conclusions, you were taught early on, that your hair was a problem. And thus, you were a problem.”
When Your Apple Watch Breaks You Up With Your Boyfriend
by Tamara MC
“After six years of dating, after your fourth breakup with Tall Glass of Water, the water heater explodes and floods your things, the things you have finally moved from your coveted storage unit into his condo at his insistence.Tall Glass of Water believes you can only show your commitment to the relationship by planting your belongings from your 8,000-square foot previous home into his 1,400-square foot condo. His thinking: You won’t look like you’re on the run. You can’t skedaddle at any moment. He wants your permanence. You + your things = you can’t as easily leave him.”
Today is the last day! Through June 27th, you can apply for Narratively’s Spring 2022 Memoir Prize.
“Narratively is accepting entries for our Spring 2022 Memoir Prize. We’re on the hunt for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view — the best of which we’ll reward with four-figure cash prizes, publication and heavy promotion, and a lot more.”
Ashley C. Ford, New York Times–bestselling memoirist of Somebody’s Daughter
Nicole Rocklin, Oscar-winning film and TV producer behind the movie Spotlight
Glynn Washington, host, creator and executive producer of the podcast/radio show Snap Judgment
📢 Attention Publications and writers interested in having published essays considered for inclusion in our weekly curation:
By Thursday of each week, please send to email@example.com:
The title of the essay and a link to it.
The name of the author, and the author’s Twitter handle.
A paragraph or a few lines from the piece that will most entice readers.
Because of data limits for many email platforms, going forward we will only include artwork from our partner publications. No need to send art.
*Please be advised, however, that we cannot accept all submissions, nor respond to the overwhelming number of emails received. Also, please note that we don’t accept author submissions from our partner publications.
You can also support Memoir Monday—and indie bookstores!—by browsing this Bookshop.org list of every book that’s been featured at the Memoir Monday reading series. It’s a great place to find some new titles to add to your TBR list!
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