Start Your Week Off Right...With 11 Personal Essays...
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 first original essay, published in First Person Singular in March, is Not Everyone Survived, by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman, in which she weighs the lasting trauma of a 1988 car accident that took the lives of her high school classmates. The second original essay is coming soon!
Essays from partner publications…
Finding Love When You're Forty and Happily Single
by Emily J. Smith
"There is inherent compromise in partnership. There is beauty in this; I’m growing in ways I never could on my own. But I also find myself putting up with behavior I never thought I would because people aren’t perfect and continually questioning if my compromises are growth or regression. In a world where women are constantly, unconsciously even, making compromises every day, there is something tremendous about being a woman who is free from compromise in her personal life. I miss that."
A World Run By Mothers
by Saba Sams
"In all the years I spent dreaming of motherhood, not once did I dream of men. If anything, I expected that romance would be my downfall. I would never achieve motherhood because in order to become a mother – or at least this was the impression I was given – you had to be loved by a man, you had to be wanted. This is why I took the opportunity to become a mother as soon as it was offered to me: when all the parts quite suddenly fell into place, I read it as such an anomaly that I could not turn it away."
Once You Start Mushing, There’s No going Back
by Blair Braverman
“Dogsledding has always lived through its stories. The sport is mysterious. Mushers live in some of the coldest, most remote places in the world. They don’t have neighbors; they spend more time with dogs than with people, and they like it that way. Even the most visible mushing events—long-distance races like the Yukon Quest and Iditarod—happen out of the public eye. Mushers and dogs head into the wilderness, then emerge days or weeks later. What happens out there? Only the team knows, but most of the team can’t talk. So it’s up to mushers to tell their stories. We gather around campﬁres and wood stoves, warming our hands and recounting the trail. Stories about moose and ground blizzards, ice bridges and northern lights. Stories about every dog we ever loved.”
Too Cool For Prom…?
by Michael A. Gonzales
“I wasn’t supposed to care about things like the prom, and I sure as hell wasn’t supposed to go. That was the tacit agreement between my best friend, Larry Ressin, and me…Larry and I viewed ourselves as outsiders—artistic rebels who didn’t care about straight-laced school affairs like proms…Then, senior year, Harmony Hart strutted into my life, and suddenly going to the prom seemed like a good idea.”
From the Archive: The Butch and the Bathroom
by Barrie Jean Borich
“Our routine is one way I say I LOVE YOU, but is practical too, providing a cue, an entrance swell, anything that will invite my beloved to speak. And so the husbutch and I keep putting on our dog and pony show. I am the dog who says, a little too loud for conditions, SO HOW WAS THAT STEAK or DID YOU TALK TO YOUR MOM TODAY? The husbutch is the pony who whinnies back in response, intentionally pitching their voice higher.”
Essays from around the web…
The Blessing of the State
by Julia Grant
“Nancy and I began our partnership in the 1980s when the idea of same-sex marriage seemed as outlandish as a female pope. We never made public vows, but had shared ownership of cars, houses, and pets and eventually adopted our two daughters. Our lives were so intertwined that it was unlikely that marriage would make one whit of difference to our partnership. There was only one thing that had been missing: the dignity of recognition in the wider community.”
Essays from around the web…
Fifth Grader Mandarin Proficiency
by Sarah Matsui
“In Mandarin, I often focus on the wrong details, reading as poetic what is typically considered mundane. For example:
心 (xīn) means heart.
擔心 (dānxīn), which I find evocative in its literal translation, burden heart, simply means worry.
開心 (kāixīn), open heart, means happy.
開心果 (kāixīn guǒ), open heart (happy) fruit, means pistachio.
Perhaps more unfortunate, the reverse is also true: I fail to read poetry where it is intended. The artful metaphors confuse me. I miss almost all the allusions, dropped, as I am, into a canon that demands familiarity, even if I’m unfamiliar.”
Something Bit Him
by Linda Button
“The exterminator ducks through the doorway to talk. He smells of dryer sheets. He nods upstairs. ‘Got a live one up there.’ I’m not sure if he means a bug or The Husband…The three of us gather in the kitchen. The exterminator shows us The Lifecycle of the Bedbug…Female bedbugs lay up to fifty eggs at a time. A nymph needs a blood meal before it can molt. They grow quickly; in warm weather, the cycle shortens. They can live many months without feeding…Oh, God, I think. They’re never moving out either. ”
Caring Between the Lines
By Magdalena Olszanowski
“Scarred by the authoritarianism of her upbringing east of the Berlin Wall, she rejects government directives about COVID-19, while I turn to science for guidance on how we can protect each other…’You are being unreasonable,’ I relentlessly push back. ‘Listen to me.’…My brusque tone is not that of a dutiful daughter. Sometimes the 'How are you?' I want to write, but can't, echoes in my head. Even such a simple phrase seems like too much…Unrelenting in my attempt to reason with her perspective, I stop communicating. I'm not yet adult enough to admit that I'm also responsible for the chasm between us.”
by Jenn Taylor-Skinner
"Of course, it’s of interest how my older sister died. All I will say is that it was a freak accident at the hands of someone else. And because I know this someone else is devastated, I won’t reveal more. But imagine a scenario like this: you’re taking a bath and someone you love accidentally drops a hair dryer into the water. Or a curling iron. This is not what happened to my sister, but it does convey the absurdity of the split-second event that ultimately killed her. A terrifying reminder of the precarity of every moment."
The Sinner’s List
by Caroline Siegrist
“The day that our handyman committed suicide, he cleaned out my parents’ garage. They hadn’t asked him to purge the junk from those overstuffed car bays, the ones that hadn’t sheltered a vehicle since we moved in, but Harold saw that it needed to be done. He left the garage doors open so they would see it when they drove up the long, windy driveway. ”
📢 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.
🚨Happy publication day to Catapult editor-in-chief Tajja Isen, whose stellar collection, Some of My Beset Friends: Essays on Lip Service, is out tomorrow! Don’t miss this “fearless and darkly comic essay collection about race, justice, and the limits of good intentions.”
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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