Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Reading Short Form Work To Support This Year's Goals

I am reading an essay or short story a day this year in support of my first goal for the year, "Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories." You can follow my reading on Twitter. Additionally, I've been able to knock off a couple of short story and essay collections. I'm thinking of this as research, the adult essay/short story equivalent of mentor texts

American Housewife: Stories

I thought a book of short stories called American Housewife would be more...housewifie. Hellen Ellis's short stories are edgie and often unique in subject matter. But I'd say they are more women's stories then housewife stories, more about women's experience than housewives' experiences. Yes, I feel I'm nitpicking, too. I'm sure that if the collection had been called something else, I would have felt differently.

How did this book work as research? The end of the book includes a list of publications where these stories were originally published that I'll be able to check out. Otherwise, I don't know that I experienced any kind of writing revelation reading them.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays

Samantha Irby's essays in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life were eye-poppers. These are definitely personal essays in which Irby comes across as funny, self-deprecating, and approachable, just to get started. She is very memorable as a writer, and if I can grab singleton Irby essays to read, I will.

How did this book work as research? Well, my understanding of personal essays is that they involve taking some element from writers' lives and using them to relate to something universal. I don't know if Irby is doing that here, but that may be because her life is so different from mine that I just assume that many of these experiences aren't universal because I haven't lived them. The lesson here, I guess, is that if you're writing something that some of your readers can't relate to, you better be damn good and funny.

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