Shifting body ideals, mothering as writing prompt, untangling an origin story, and dentists in the family
Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Granta, Guernica, and Literary Hub. Each personal 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.
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May You Live Long Enough to Become the Standard of Beauty
by Blessing J. Christopher (illustration by Erin Perfect)
"My mother doesn’t act like her thinness bothers her. At church, prophets tell her that she’s thin because an unknown enemy is roasting her spirit over a fire. In her brand of Christianity, no one just falls sick or dies; some wicked persons are always responsible. When she prays, she asks God to rain down fire on these secret enemies. She draws up a list of neighbors we are not supposed to talk to because they could have used dark powers to cause her affliction."
Finding Time to Write About Motherhood… While Parenting During a Pandemic
by Pragya Agarwal
"I am a mother all the time, and I am a writer all the time. But it is the co-existence of these two things, these two states of me that I often find disorienting. I sometimes wonder if my mothering supports my creativity and vice-versa. I know that I have written more than ever since I had these twins four years ago. I have written hungrily, and ravenously while trying to bring forth all the words and sentences that seem to be bursting with a sense of urgency. I make many notes in my phone, tiny fragments of beguiling thoughts, persuading me to come back to my desk. You have to wait, I tell them with a smile."
We're in Sasquatch Country Now
by Lana Hall (Photo courtesy of the author)
"In the way of the Sasquatch legend, I’ve pieced together my origin story in snippets of evidence too: a transcript of a social worker’s interview, sparsely worded adoption papers, questions my adoptive parents answered as honestly as they could. Occasionally I had gut feelings, which sometimes turned out to be true and sometimes did not."
We Are More: Show Me Your Teeth
by Dena Rod (Illustration by Abdel Morched)
"The dentists in our extended family were usually sent to the US for school before the Islamic revolution and were typically stranded here after their family homes were dismantled in Iran. Yet, by virtue of sharing the same mother country, my maman and baba were granted access to the abundant network of Iranian dentists, accountants, and lawyers in Northern California."
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