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Women We Read This Week

Eva Holland's "Wilderness Women" on SB Nation How could we begin the first WWRTW of the year without repping our own Eva Holland? Especially when she's hauling water in snowy tundra in hopes of winning the Alaska Wilderness Woman competition? (Actually.) While she may not win the competition, she proves that she's succeeded in her "humbling transformation from urbanite ... [Continue Reading]

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Hopes and Fears of the Writing Life

Fears Fear that in the end, no matter how hard I work, no matter how many doors I bang on and with what frequency and obstinacy, no matter all the palliative nostalgia of laureled writers reflecting on the mounting failures that led to their breakthroughs, I just don't have enough talent. Fear of not reading enough. Fear of reading the wrong things. Fear of ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Richard BH

Lilac Stitches

I met my future stepmother in a Leningrad subway when I was eight. Luda was a twenty-year-old transplant from a small Ukrainian town, painted with shiny scarlet lipstick and heavy eyeliner and hanging out with her best friend, prowling for adventure and male generosity. Instead of finding easy fun, she got hit on by a single father in a fake fur coat, thirty-five kopecks ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Year: 2013

It's that time of year, the time of Bests and Mosts and pretty much any superlative you can think of that will fit in a quick headline. At Vela, we've scoured all of our Women We Read this Week posts from 2013, and have compiled a list of our favorite nonfiction featured this year in our weekly column. And it turns out we've got a lot of love for these women writers we've ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Dr. DeNo

Walk It Down

I caught my first salmon off the seawall in Kotzebue, Alaska in the very early morning of August fourth. I used a snagging hook: a three-pronged weighted beast of tackle that bent my rod backward when I cast. I worried about those standing by and what a rogue hook this size could do, how it might catch something on land instead of in sea. Snagging is illegal in most ... [Continue Reading]

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The Non-Bravery of Bearing Witness

It’s happening again: I’ve published a highly personal essay and well-intentioned readers are calling me brave. It’s meant as a compliment, I know, but I can’t help feeling what I always feel when I hear this comment: confused and a little bummed out. As a woman who writes personal narrative, I get called “brave” a lot. Which makes me wonder: do male ... [Continue Reading]

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Women We Read This Week

Mary H K Choi's "Korean Thanksgiving" in Aeon Magazine This piece is all about tone and perception. The story of a second-generation woman getting dragged to a cemetery by her Korean mother and aunts could go a variety of ways: sappy sentimental, overly analytical, snarkily quippy. But Mary H K Choi avoids all these pitfalls and gives us something that perfectly ... [Continue Reading]

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The Morning After

Paper gown and stirrups, white walls and a tray of gleaming tools: he held the syringe over me and said, “It’s a special kind of anesthetic. We won’t be putting you completely under—you’ll still be lucid—but you won’t remember anything.” Then he slid it in. I stared out of the window at a little pond just beyond the parking lot: gray water against gray ... [Continue Reading]

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On Appetite: Four Food Vignettes

Salt Alice Driver What did we know then? We knew the dirt roads of the Ozark Mountains, knew that duct tape was the best way to remove thousands of seed ticks, knew to ignore the fierce itch of poison ivy, knew to collect rocks with abandon. The curve of that salt block, worn down by the tongues of dozens of cows, called out to us. We ran across the field, my cousins ... [Continue Reading]

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From the Hearth in Périgord

When I first approach the five-hundred-year-old farm, I am not sure I’ve come to the right place. The address Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch had given me a month earlier when I called her for an interview was simply “La Borderie,” the name of her French home and cooking school sewn into the fringes of a diminutive village in the rolling hills of the Dordogne, a region of ... [Continue Reading]