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A Dozen Excellent New Pieces of Personal Narrative...
Welcome to Memoir Land—a newsletter edited by, now featuring three verticals:
Memoir Monday, a weekly curation of the best personal essays from around the web brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Granta, Guernica, Oldster Magazine, Literary Hub, Orion Magazine, The Walrus, and Electric Literature. Below is this week’s curation.
*Submissions are currently paused for First Person Singular. I’ll do a limited submission period this fall. Stay tuned…*
The Lit Lab, featuring interviews and essays on craft and publishing. It is primarily for paid subscribers. Recently I published “Private Storm on Black Mesa Landscape” by Jean Iversen there, without a paywall.
*Later this week I’m going to launch a new, paid-only feature in The Lit Lab called “The Prompt-o-Matic,” in which I share a writing prompt, and you can respond with a paragraph in the comments.
Memoir Monday is a reader-supported publication that pays contributors for original essays and interviews. To support this work, become a paid subscriber.
Essays from partner publications…
11 Interventions in the 10 Days of Your Dying
by Trebbe Johnson
“A Snickers bar. Back in the hospital, you asked me to bring you one, but it’s only now, after eating nothing for days, that you think of it. “We’ll share it,” you say. Two bites each, back and forth. Our last meal together.”
Is the High School Reunion Dead?
by Emily Latimer
“As I stare down the impending reunion, struggling to pinpoint why exactly I don’t want to go, I realize it’s because I’m afraid. The debate plays out in my head like a schoolyard game of tug-of-war. Would I flatten myself to fit a mould forged a decade ago? Or could I really show up as exactly myself?”
The Source Years: My Decade at the Hip-Hop Bible
“In the summer of 1977, a few weeks after my 14th birthday, I was turned out after hearing Sugar Hill record-spinner DJ Hollywood and rapper Lovebug Starski at the annual 151th Street block party. Although that was also the year of the intense heat waves, Son of Sam, a blackout, and the Yankees winning the World Series, it was those hours observing DJ Hollywood that stand out the most for me from that summer.”
Unspendable Currency: Edgar Kunz on Making Ends Meet
by Edgar Kunz
“As a Poet it’s taken me a long time to realize that my great subject, my first and most lasting obsession, is money. What we have to do to get it, how both having and not having twists us up. My first book, for all its obvious themes of masculinity and quiet suffering—for all its “grit”—is really about money. When I write about strapping a free armchair to the roof of my friend’s stepdad’s van, I’m writing about money. When I write about getting a tooth pulled at a free clinic. Cutting coupons with my mom. My brother showing me his gun. My dad in the hospital remembering a work accident, how he watched his own blood spatter the plywood floor “alien/and bright as coins/from a distant country.” An unspendable currency.”
Essays from around the web…
The Drive to Apologize
by Tammy Thorne
“Like a hero swooping in to save us from misery, father would drive off and return 30 minutes or so later, triumphantly, with a big bucket of KFC with all the disgusting sides like that nuclear neon green coleslaw and the sloppy greyish-orange macaroni and mayonnaise salad, and we would feast like it was the first real meal we’d had in days.”
Rats in the Walls, Baby on the Way
by Dina Gachman
“Pregnant women are often tired, but we’re also on high alert, every nerve ending in our bodies primed to detect real and imaginary dangers that might threaten our child. Then another scratch — this one sounding more aggressive than the last. I rolled sideways off the couch and grabbed my phone.”
How Not to Be a Ghost
“And just at the point that I was at my angriest, most ready to explain to him that he was wrong and had a stupid nickname and that his oversized right arm made him look like a badly manufactured Action Man, it all fell away. It became hilarious. After all my worry and fear, the thing I feared had happened anyway.”
Ali Sethi's Paniya: Like a dandelion in a dust storm
by Anandi Mishra
“At first, Raat Bhar reminded me of former lovers, current crushes, and my husband, a million miles away—all at once. How was this possible? As I played this song again and again—on my TV, in my warmly lit bedroom, as the night descended into its deep reaches, a crepuscular sadness washed over me. A dampness I always associate with July nights hung in the air, mingling with the smells of cigarettes, antibiotics and matcha-lime body mist. But Raat Bhar did not discriminate, entertaining all my stray, varied emotions. The following day as I worked from home a friend joined me, and we listened again in my air-conditioned room in the Delhi heat as we tried to work.”
How Bruce Springsteen — and 18,000 Strangers — Helped Me Mourn my Mom
by Sharon Waters
“I was never one of those Springsteen fans who went to many shows of a tour, hopping planes and tallying my concert count. But at my first show of this tour, five months after my mom died, I discovered a rock concert with 18,000 strangers was more therapeutic for my grief than a counselor’s couch.”
The Process Server
by Jared Hanks
“I serve all kinds of papers: summonses and complaints, family court documents and subpoenas, and truckloads of divorce papers. Some people can’t get the divorce papers fast enough, while others evade them like the plague. My client’s wife does not want a divorce, and her parents forbid it. To further complicate the situation, her parents live in the same house as she and her husband do. My client is afraid that his father-in-law will do something crazy if he sees me serve his daughter the papers. So he has asked me to meet him at his house at five-thirty in the morning, when he can assure easy service. I don’t like this situation, but I haven’t liked a lot of the situations I’ve been in while doing this job.”
We Waited for Them
by Andrew Zubiri
“We met when we moved to the same street named after a mountain range, into unfinished houses with garages waiting to be filled. Our mothers ran each month to remittance centers, picking up money wired from America, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, or an M/V in the middle of the sea.”
by Kate Lewis
“The memory thief came for my grandmother when I was sixteen. We were cleaning up from lunch, the sandwich crumbs just swept from the laminate countertop, the crinkled plastic bag of bread wrapped and stored out of sight. She gripped the rims of the slim stack of green porcelain dishes, her knuckles paper white, stark against the translucence of her hand. She placed them carefully into the cabinet, closed the door, and then paused in the immaculate kitchen, quiet for a long moment before turning back to me, tears shimmering at the edges of her eyes. I can’t believe it. I forgot to feed you.”
📢 The Resort writing community is hosting its first IN-PERSON retreat for writers. Come to Your Senses is designed for NYC-based writers and writers who will be in NYC on Oct 7-8, 2023. For two days, get inspired and reconnect to your creativity with chef-prepared food, soothing acupuncture, art viewing, craft making, lots of generative writing prompts, and more. Hosted by Resort founder Catherine LaSota, this retreat is open to all genres and experience levels. It is limited to eight participants and priced to be as accessible as possible, with a payment plan available.
📢 Writer/Instructor Blaise Allysen Kearsley has some great writing workshops coming this fall.
📢 Take my Skillshare workshop on blending the individual and the collective in your essays!
📢 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!