Photo by Jorge Santiago

The Ism and the Alcohol

A year and a half ago, I published my first essay on addiction. You’d think having gotten sober at age seventeen would have been fodder for plenty of personal essays, but it took me twelve years to start writing about alcoholism and sobriety. Even then, that first piece did not show me drinking or using, or even considering drinking or using. Instead, the piece ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

"It's Always Spilling Over the Edges": Jamie Green interviews Leslie Jamison on BuzzFeed I've been loving Leslie Jamison's essays from her new collection, The Empathy Exams, that have come out recently in The Believer and Harper's. They're narratives that plunge into the frustrating world of doctor-patient communication and the vulnerability of a patient's narrative. ... [Continue Reading]

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Vela Writers On: Storytelling

Where do fictional characters come from; what does it mean to bear witness; is information the death of story? In three short essays, Vela writers explore both the nature and the craft of storytelling. In The Non-Bravery of Bearing Witness, Lauren Quinn wonders why she gets called "brave" each time she writes a personal essay, and considers this definition of ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Jorge Santiago

Our Own Ocean

During the longer days of our cross-country road trip I slept in the car in the early afternoon, dozing in the passenger seat as Cam’s Toyota ate up miles of American highway, the flickering sun through the windows casting all my dreams in a strange, mottled light. Cameron, for his part, was content to drive in relative quiet, one hand on the wheel and the other in ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Rachel Monroe's "Fire Behavior" in Oxford American Read enough literary journalism and it becomes easy to trace the intentions and arguments of a piece from the start; this transparency, established in tidy lede and nut graf, doesn't necessarily mean a piece won't contain surprises or complexity, but does tend to establish a certain predictability. Readers must keep ... [Continue Reading]

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Somewhere on a Disappearing Path: Photo Essay by Iveta Vaivode

“Come, child! Let’s listen to the bees singing,” my aunt would say every evening before we went to bed. Her white hair always reminded me of dandelion heads, so beautiful and delicate you almost fear to touch them. I remember her singing songs about the natural world while working in the garden. She would also spend long hours with me talking about the family I never ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Madeleine Schwartz's Interview With Vivian Gornick in The Believer Here's one for the writers in the house. And the ladies. And especially the writer ladies. Discussing feminism, persona, the fallacy of "craft," and the difficulty of writing love scenes, Gornick champions memoir and nonfiction, and takes a stab at the shortcomings of MFAs--all of which endear her ... [Continue Reading]

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My Own Mexican Revolution

I was walking back from the grocery store, loaded down with bags, when a man came up the sidewalk. I looked down and away. He leaned towards me and whispered, “F**k me.” The insistent pressure exploded. I lost it. “F**k YOU!” I shouted, and then continued, calling him a dog, a monkey, an animal, a barbarian, and any other disagreeable creature I could think of ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Donna Seaman’s "Turning out the lights just isn’t going to do it" in Creative Nonfiction In the movie Bang the Drum Slowly, there’s a card game called “The Exciting Game without Any Rules,” and I think that’s a good description of writing in general. It’s true of nonfiction writing in the sense that you are at the mercy of events. You go out, and you ... [Continue Reading]

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On Running Again

Last Saturday, the first almost-warm day of the year, I went for a run along the river, into town, through the park – a four mile loop in perfect, breezy, sunny conditions. It was glorious for about a mile and a half, at which point I developed a cramp in my stomach. I kept going for a few minutes, thinking it was a kind of test, that I could will myself to be tougher, ... [Continue Reading]