Some Essays to Read on Your Summer Vacation (or Staycation)...
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 fifth original essay, published in First Person Singular in late June, is The Sitting Month, by Jiadai Lin. The sixth original essay is coming later in July.
Essays from partner publications…
The Seven-Year Cycle
“This is my introduction to dying. It is a good place to die — in a Changi Women’s Prison cell. I am nineteen years old and aging quickly. Everything is clear under the hard fluorescent lights, and all the pieces feel like they are slotting into place. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes? This is what they’re talking about.”
California State of Mind: Searching for Didion and Babitz in Literary Los Angeles
by Marianne Eloise
“‘I’m sorry.’…These were the first words out of my fiancé Karl’s mouth on the morning of December. My first thought: what could a man possibly do in his sleep that would warrant an apology on waking?…’Eve Babitz died.’…He said it the proper way, the Jewish way, the way she reminds us it is said in Eve’s Hollywood: Bahbich. Many forget. He, in reverence to both Eve and me, remembered.”
Rivers of Babylon: The Story of a Third Trimester Abortion
by T.S. Mendola
That’s the thing, about the pro-life discourse. It steals my right to say without fear of legal reprisal targeted at women like me that what happened next did feel like dismemberment, it did feel like desecration, like mutilation, that I did want his body intact, that I desperately, beyond reason, wanted an intact body for burial. I wanted it viscerally, animally, the way your body wakes up in the night looking for a newborn, the way you feel a physical connection to your children even when you cannot see them, the way you want something when everything else has been taken from you. It is the same reason I buried him; I wanted to know where he had gone from me and how.
The Unbearable Anxiety of Grocery Shopping
by Gabrielle Drolet
“Much of what I’d thought were personality quirks or personal failings—a dislike of busy places, struggles with planning, overwhelm from “easy” tasks, overstimulation—were actually symptoms of a larger issue. The problem wasn’t that I was lazy or easily stressed out. It was that grocery shopping is often inaccessible to neurodivergent people.”
Fashion Accountable: Why I Started a Style Blog
by Mari Naomi
“One thing I love about having a fashion blog is feeling like I’m part of a larger conversation, of what a middle-aged person can wear (anything they freaking want), of what a non-binary person can wear (anything they freaking want), and when it’s okay to wear white (whenever you freaking want). By putting my choices out there, I feel like I’m helping make certain ideas acceptable, and giving others like me permission to do the same (as others have before me). It feels like community conversation as liberation.”
Bargaining for My Life in ‘the Sanctuary of the Woods’
by Sari Botton
"Calling the Adirondacks ‘the sanctuary of the woods’ was spin, not just for them, but for me. I half-believed myself when I said that the object of my trip was some sort of spiritual communing with nature to soothe my troubled soul. At a deep level, though, I knew there was going to be nothing soothing about this weekend adventure. I was going with Tim, an emotionally unreachable man ripped straight from the pages of Pam Houston’s Cowboys Are My Weakness, whom I’d been seeing on and off for close to three years. And we were hanging by a thread.”
Essays from around the web…
Some Fly Miles for Sweetness
by Erin Strybis
“Each time this scene repeated itself, I felt less sure of my words. I wondered how long we could go without their companionship—moms I used to meet for book club and cookie exchanges, kids Jack used to see at birthday parties and playdates. The truth is, I was lonely, too, but I tried to wear a brave face for Jack. Isolation was the price we paid for peace of mind…Cooped up with my family for months on end, I felt like a caged bird. Following the swooping freedom of the cardinals and sparrows became an escape and a comfort. I wanted to join them, to fly into a new story, one where caution didn’t bar us from the gifts of connection.”
A Good Idea
by Aaron Burch
“I’m thinking about these videos I’ve seen of someone rescuing a wild animal in need. The person helping always seems so caring, so good. So selfless, heroic, throwing themselves into action out of instinct. I’m thinking about how I want to be selfless, I want to be heroic, I want to be the kind of person who, when they see a deer stuck in a fence on the side of the road, springs into action to help it, rather than the passive person I so often actually am. But I’m thinking, too, in full disclosure, how I want to seem selfless and heroic and like the kind of person who, when an emergency arises, takes action.
In Search of Good Hair Days
by Karen Zey
“Weddings require serious dos. Elaborate curls pinned into a chignon; a feat of elegance sprayed in place to last the ceremony. Vows spoken from the heart to a blond man with kind eyes and a beard. Til death do us part. How long do beautiful things last? A decade until an aneurysm wipes out our forever life, and my world goes dark with pain. Grief claws at my skin...”
📢 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.
Mark your Calendars for Monday August 8th at 7pm EST! The quarterly Memoir Monday Reading Series, hosted by, Memoir Monday founder Lilly Dancyger, will return to Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, featuring Edgar Gomez, Maud Newton, Chloeé Cooper Jones, Tajja Isen, and Sari Botton. RSVP…
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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