Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and monthly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Longreads, Tin House, Granta, and Guernica. Each 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. It may be the start of a new work week, but at least we have this great new writing to get us through it.
On Fairy Tales and the Ghostliness of Early Motherhood
by Cate Fricke
What saves these lost new mothers is different in every fairy tale. Sometimes it’s a mere physical reunion with their family or the confession of a past wrong, but often they’re brought back from danger simply by virtue of being seen and recognized. For me, coming back to life took time. . . . But recognition has played its small part, too. Just a month or so ago, I was nursing Edie and she looked up at my face—she reached up to my lip, then lowered her hand to her own lips and smiled. In that moment, I felt as though my flesh had finally colored back in all the way. Not only had my daughter seen me, she’d seen herself in my face.
Stand-Up Comedy Saved My Life. Literally.
by Elsa Eli Waithe
I just wanted to do my best every week and hang out with new people. I just wanted to show up. That’s what gave me a purpose. I just wanted to entertain my new friends. They wanted to hear what new thing I was thinking about. They wanted to see my jokes work out. They drove me. The other bad things were still bad things. I still had a shitty job and an ex who’d stolen everything.
The Coyote’s Dance
by Austin Gilkeson
One night last winter, I looked out our sleeping son’s window and saw a coyote dancing in the snow. Our backyard is a narrow rectangle pillared by a fat maple. The coyote danced under the tree. She was probably after one of the gray and black squirrels that scurry up and down the maple, or our yard’s resident chipmunk; or maybe she really had been dancing for a moment, enjoying the puff and crunch of new snow under her paws. Either way, she soon scampered into the shadows. The next day I found her footprints in the snow, and her scat in a pile of pine needles behind the garage.
What’s Happening to My Body?
by Devorah Heitner
My mother always said she had thunder thighs. On one visit home, I found a picture of little Cindy at about age 10, long before she was my mother. In the picture, her thighs, solid like mine, are turned outward, in first position. I studied the picture, noting how the blue costume cast a pallor on her pale skin. Her arms made an oval above her head. Her brown eyes looked big and nervous. She was not smiling. Maybe all the girls took ballet in the ’50s, in Little Neck, Long Island. The picture doesn’t give the impression that she was begging to do this.
Marine Base Alchemy
by Annie Connole
At the entrance of 29 Palms Marine Base in the Mojave, a man hands me a plastic orange card and a bottle of water as I find my seat on a bus next to my neighbors. We all live at the border of the base. Out the window, I watch the dusty red landscape, bitten by the sun, roll out behind us. There is no specific reason for the tour of the base; it was arranged by a neighbor and we were invited. Most of us simply want to see what is beyond the borderline. The base is mysterious, but part of our daily lives—the sides of our houses shake as test bombs are dropped and fighter planes fly low over our yards.
Fall classes are 15% off at Catapult with the code YAYSCHOOL — check out the course offerings here.
After a three-month summer hiatus, the Memoir Monday reading series returns to Powerhouse Arena tonight at 7pm, as a Brooklyn Book Festival bookend event
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Until next Monday,