Women We Read This Week


A gathering of some of the best pieces by women we’ve read online this week.


Rachael Maddux’s “Up The Hill” in Georgia Tech’s Alumni Magazine.

“Up The Hill” by Rachael Maddux tells the story of a lone 71-year-old man who single-handedly and voluntarily cleans the grounds of an abandoned cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee for reasons that remain obscure even to him. The writing is lovely, the portrayal of David Young is deft, but I think the most successful aspect of the piece is how Maddux stays with the mystery, the “why.” She doesn’t try to answer the question but skirts alongside it, in a way that gives us the shape of the mystery but doesn’t crack into it. Which somehow feels more accurate. The themes of time, mortality, remembrance and legacy all come through really palpably as well. It’s haunting, but in a very realist way.


Heidi Benson’s “Move Over, Joan Didion / Make Room for Rebecca Solnit” in SFGate.

Okay, I’m a little obsessed with Rebecca Solnit right now (I wrote two weeks ago about her essay “Men Explain Things To Me”). As a writer who aspires to speak to the political through the personal, as a writer of place and the multidimensionality of landscape, I’ve been seeking Solnit without knowing it. And now, just as I am set to launch my self-taught seminar in all things Solnit, journalist Heidi Benson comes through with this expansive profile on the person (I will not write “woman” here) some are calling “America’s best young essayist.”


Natalie Serber’s ““The Wrong O” on her blog.

This is just a just a blog post from Natalie Serber, but what a blog post. Serber manages, in 1,200 words, to transform the shock and pain of the discovery that she has breast cancer into lines that made me laugh out loud. But her palpable terror haunts even the funniest lines–this is brave, visceral stuff.


Megan Michelson’s “Tunnel Vision,” in Outside.

ESPN’s Megan Michelson watched an avalanche kill three of her friends last winter. In the November issue of Outside, she grapples with what went wrong. I can’t imagine attempting to report a story that’s so close to me – Michelson interviewed an array of experts, as well as her fellow survivors – but I can only hope that working through it all was therapeutic in some way.

About Sarah Menkedick

Sarah Menkedick is the founder of Vela. Her work has been featured in Harper's, Oxford American, The Paris Review Daily, The Best Women's Travel Writing, The New Inquiry, The Common, and elsewhere. Her Vela story "Homing Instincts" was selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2014. Before returning to the U.S. for graduate school, she spent six years living, teaching and traveling abroad. Read her full bio here. Follow her on Twitter @SarahMenkedick.