Ten Essays—Some Old, Some New
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.
Essays from partner publications…
From the Archives: Why Writing Matters in An Age of Despair
by Lyz Lenz
"The limits of our stories are the limits of our lives. Our words should open up the world, not close it off. Our words should include all people, not trap them in cages."
Kate Braverman is Dead
by Leah Mensch
"Even if I wanted to redeem Braverman, I don’t think I could. To do so would feel like a violation of her credo. For her, redeemability never determined whether a woman’s story was worth telling. And so what I want for her is also a contradiction: to champion a writer who likely would have chafed at my attempts to defend her. I want to hold all that she was holding."
It Could Happen to You (and Probably Will)
by Poopy McPoop
“It’s more like my mother unknowingly dropped a turd. The turd escaped from her. I found it on the floor in front of the bathroom. I looked at it for a while, trying to divine how it happened, but no explanation came to me…If you’ve had a senior dog, as I have, you won’t be surprised that humans have the same kind of accidents in old age as your old furry friend’s. Old sphincters: they will betray you, mark my words.”
From 2016: Propagandalands—Peter Pomerantsev reports from Ukraine’s Donbas region.
by Peter Pomerantsev
“Of all the things Tetyana thought she might become, a soldier was never one of them. Yet here she was. Not a regular soldier, more like some sort of general, someone able to command life and death. Sitting in her father’s apartment, in her pyjamas, with her hand over a keyboard, knowing that if she pressed one key she might send many very real people to a very real death, and if she pressed another the revolution and all that she, her friends and thousands of others had fought for might be lost.”
Douglas Stuart on the Defiant Spirit of Glasgow’s Doocots, Private Pigeon Lofts on Public Land
by Douglas Stuart
“I used to pass a doocot that was built on a patch of scabrous grass that was near my girlfriend’s flat. At fourteen I was still performing my masculinity and was desperate to fit in with the local Protestant boys. I spent hours French-kissing this one girl, and lovely as her crisp perm and sugary lip-gloss was, I was using her, hoping that if I just kissed her enough, I might develop a taste for heterosexuality. Why not? Exposure therapy had worked for me, with Pink Floyd and Liquorice Allsorts. This doocot sat on a strip of weedy grass that was neither tended by the housing association who owned our tenements, nor by the roads department who owned the motorway that ran alongside it. It was a worthless piece of land, irregular as an offcut of cloth. I passed this doocot a dozen times before I saw the small roof hatch open and a man pop out of it, like the captain of a beached submarine.”
Little Girls Get to Be Ingénues—What About Big Girls?
by Rachel Mans McKenny
“In bed at night, I squeezed the fat on my thighs and sides between two fingers until they ached. Faith as a teen meant bedtime prayers still worked like birthday candles. Make me thin, I told God. Make me pretty. I added to the list: Make me Annie.”
Essays from around the web…
The Dentist who Treated My Divorce
by Hillery Stone
“I was in for tooth pain and, as it happened, also at the end of my 16-year marriage. As I lay in the dentist’s chair while the hygienist scraped each tooth with a steel scaler, I wept, silently and irrepressibly, under a pair of oversized goggles. When she stopped poking under my gum lines and asked if I was OK, my ears were filled with tears… ‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘I’m getting a divorce.’”
One Little Goat
By Miriam Bird Greenberg
“Why did I want to watch the goat being killed? I don’t know, I can't remember, but somehow in my mind, almost 30 years removed, it was the magical centerpiece of the day. Deprived of that moment, how could I frame the ritual that came before and after? But that seems arbitrary, a contrived explanation that, now grown, I've assembled in hindsight. Perhaps I wanted to see it out of pure cussedness, more indignant at being prevented than anything else.
by Cassandra Lawton
"As we laid down the cards, my mother won the round. She grinned, explaining that she was keeping the pot in the middle of the table so we could all play again. Before we could deal another hand, the dog began barking and a car pulled into our driveway. The timing was too perfect as Lori rushed out, three large garbage bags trailing behind her...‘What do you think you’re doing?’ My mom’s voice was harsh as if she expected an attack… ‘I’m leaving,’ Lori stated simply as if she had been planning it with us for weeks."
Radical Surprise: The Subversive Art of the Uncertain
by Barrie Jean Borich
“I once had a lover who asked everyone she met a standard question. ‘Tell me,’ she said, ‘about a time you were shocked.’...This was more than three decades ago and I don’t remember my response, though I do remember how she lingered on the word—SHOCKED—holding the hard k in the back of her mouth for an instant, as if she might swallow before she got to the thud of the final d. I had not expected the question, and that surprise vibrated in my chest, leading me to think about myself in new ways. What shocks me? What kinds of things did I find shocking?”
📢 Attention Publications and writers interested in having published essays considered for inclusion in our weekly curation:
By Thursday of each week, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org:
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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