Personal Essays By the Dozen (Okay, Just One Dozen. All Great.)
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 — plus many additional publications. And last week we welcomed Orion Magazine as a partner publication.
You might have noticed we also have a nice new logo, thanks to Ian MacAllen of Design is the Message!
In addition to the weekly curation, there are now original personal essays under the heading of First Person Singular, for paying subscribers.
The ninth original essay, published in the First Person Singular series in October, is “Close the Cabinet” by Starina Catchatoorian. The tenth original essay is coming in the next week. Submissions are open. You can find submissions guidelines and more on the “About” page.
Our first in what will be a series of seminars was Publicity 101 For Writers with book publicist Lauren Cerand, was held October 8th. Paying subscribers can view the resulting video here.
Memoir Monday is a reader-supported publication that pays contributors to its First Person Singular original essay series. To support this work, become a paid subscriber.
Essays from partner publications…
Essays from partner publications…
by Ezra Cohen
“It may not be possible to disentangle performance, ritual, relationship, and belief from the placing of needles. Upon closer examination, the very concept of a placebo — where it starts and stops — begins to lose its meaning.”
Begin, O Small Boy, To Be Born
by Chris Dombrowski
“The manifold radiance of an expectant mother: hips widened to the hilt, abrupt, pear-like slope of the belly, cheekbones staunch with strength, skin lambent as if lit from within. Perhaps it’s unbecoming, libidinous of a partner to stare at their bikini-clad pregnant spouse for extended periods of time in public, but I’m loath to look away.”
Old Birds and Empty Nests
by Sonya Huber
“I’m a little over two months into the empty nest experience, a period that friends warned me might be weepy and overwhelming. To be honest, I feel amazing…The thing about a nest is that it’s built to be empty. That’s the nature of a cup, of any container: its emptiness, its holding capacity, is its strength.”
by Janet Malcolm
“This snapshot is the only memento I have of a girl I was in love with when I was in my late teens. She is the smiling blond near the center of the photograph. When I say I was in love with her, I am speaking from later knowledge. At the time – the late 1940s – girls in love with other girls didn’t recognize what was staring them in the face. They – we – thought you could be in love only with boys. Lesbianism was something you only heard about. There was a book called The Well of Loneliness, a forbidden, rather boring text, from which we formed the idea of lesbians as unhappy jodhpur-wearing daughters of fathers who had wanted sons.”
Lessons in Lust and Life from Dirty Dancing
by Sara Lippmann
“Like Baby, I was raised to be a nice Jewish girl, with all of that trope’s stifling implications. I wore sexless, strangulating turtlenecks dotted in strawberries, wool crewnecks that itched. I got good grades, sat quietly through synagogue, never torched the house as a latchkey kid. But the label never quite fit. By middle school, my anger roiled, looking to vent. I felt boxed in and wanted out.”
by Gretchen VanWormer
“Dad quit smoking via a hypnotist shortly before my sister Margaret was born. When I was eight or nine, he liked telling me the story of the hypnosis, sitting together on the green sofa in the living room, parallelograms of sunlight on the brown carpet.”
How to Tell a True Abortion Story
By Nicole Walker
“On August 18th, almost two months after the Dobbs decision, I published an essay in The New York Times called “My Abortion at 11 Wasn’t a Choice. It Was My Life.” It detailed the molestation I’d experienced as a kid and the subsequent abortion I had in Utah. In the piece, I wondered what my life would be today if I’d been forced to give birth before I was even a teenager. I asked the readers not to look away. The essay found a good readership—I received no hate mail, only letters expressing the reader’s sympathy and thanking me for sharing my story…After the essay came out, I traveled to Massachusetts and Rhode Island to give talks from my recent book, Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster, but most everyone wanted to talk about the NYT piece. That was fine with me. I have said the word abortion more times in the past three months than in my whole life. Shame is a thing of the past.”
Essays from Around the Web…
What My Mom Taught Me About Sex
by Tara Ellison
“My hormones raging, I found that male attention could buoy a melancholy existence, at least for a little while. At 14, I crushed on a dark-haired boy who lived down the street and rode the bus with me in the mornings. I fantasized about kissing him. Older men, however, held considerably more sway over me. Certain types of men are attuned to unparented girls, ones who won’t make a fuss, who have already been conditioned to feel small. It was like ringing a dinner gong for predators.”
I’m Haunted by the Mansions of My Youth
by Erika Thorkelson
“I grew up having nightmares about big houses that represented the trauma of my childhood. As an adult living through the housing crisis, my relationship with mansions has only grown more complicated.”
Lullaby and Goodnight
by Casey Mulligan Walsh
“Yet, always, there was only the one baby whose funeral loomed. Looking back, I see the young mother, teary as she tucked him in for the night, praying to see the child through to adulthood, clinging to the dream of family. I wonder what, if anything, I have to offer her. She would say that life requires nothing short of bravery. She would tell you that love, and determination, and faith will carry her through. And, though she couldn’t know the measure of courage these things would require, she would be right.”
Mozarting the Mind
by Beth Kephart
“I fell and an ankle bone broke — a sound that rose up through the shaft of me and also knelled the air. So that I heard myself break twice, in the same instant, and then I couldn’t stop hearing.”
Why I Write
by Diane Forman
“So, while I still write for understanding, for truth, for clarification, to tell a story, to help people, to help myself and even for fun—I also write for communication, for discussion, for connection. In a world that can feel fragmented and lonely, I write to bring myself closer to others.”
📢 Memoir Monday founder (and reading series host) Lilly Dancyger is offering a workshop:
Essay Revision Intensive, 12/3
📢 Apply for the Writing Between the Vines FREE Writing Residency!
Writing Between the Vines writing residency is celebrating its 10th year in 2023. Applications are now open for solo and co-residency retreats. There are 5 locations available.
📢 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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