I Reject the Imaginary White Man Judging My Work

“Breaking news: Black people have families and jobs and romantic interests and hobbies and challenges and yes, we have all of this within systems not designed for us, and yet we exist. We live and love and die. Those institutions and structures don’t HAVE to be in the forefront of the stories we tell and it’s also okay when they are.”

Published: Jul 30, 2020
Length: 10 minutes (2,625 words)

Margery Kempe Had 14 Children and She Still Invented the Memoir

“Here’s what we can learn from Margery Kempe, patron saint of writing mothers: cry if you must, then bulldoze your own path.”

Published: Feb 27, 2020
Length: 11 minutes (2,916 words)

What If You Can’t Afford “A Room of One’s Own”?

For all the writers who rely on food stamps, day jobs, friends’ couches, and spouses to write their books with no guarantee of payment or publication, novelist Sandra Newman talks openly about her financial struggles. And she says: don’t feel ashamed. Create a room of your own anyway you can, even if it requires eating spaghetti with ketchup, and writing on a park bench.

Published: Mar 12, 2019
Length: 9 minutes (2,355 words)

Horror Lives in the Body

“That fight-or-flight feeling, the body’s warning system, is what horror regularly exercises. It reminds you to stay alert because danger could present itself from the depths of any shadow, from behind any door, from the cab of any passing vehicle.”

Published: Oct 10, 2018
Length: 29 minutes (7,289 words)

Thomas Cook and the Stack Pirates

Boredom and an enterprising Brit gave birth to the modern tourism industry, and we’re still trying to make sense of it all.

Author: Mary Mann
Published: May 16, 2017
Length: 22 minutes (5,506 words)

Dissipation and Disenchantment: The Writing Life in Argentina in the 1990s

In 1995, twenty-one year old novelist Mariana Enriquez came to fame in Argentina on the power of a single novel built around youthful subcultures, drugs, and her love of Emily Bronte, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, then she quickly sank back into the shadows. She liked it that way.

Published: Feb 21, 2017
Length: 13 minutes (3,334 words)

The Homemade Abortion: A Caged Bird, a Quinceaneara, and the American Dream

“It was naïve of me to believe that the ideology Esperanza expressed in class during our debates would carry over into real life. That I would even think to intervene in a family, especially between a mother and daughter, and about a topic as sensitive as abortion, was presumptuous—maybe even unethical.”

Published: May 3, 2016
Length: 13 minutes (3,388 words)

Should Fiction Be Timeless?

On the place of pop culture references in literature.

Published: Jan 19, 2016
Length: 8 minutes (2,094 words)

Something to Remember Me By

[Fiction] A young man goes on a journey:

“When there is too much going on, more than you can bear, you may choose to assume that nothing in particular is happening, that your life is going round and round like a turntable. Then one day you are aware that what you took to be a turntable, smooth, flat, and even, was in fact a whirlpool, a vortex. My first knowledge of the hidden work of uneventful days goes back to February 1933. The exact date won’t matter much to you. I like to think, however, that you, my only child, will want to hear about this hidden work as it relates to me. When you were a small boy you were keen on family history. You will quickly understand that I couldn’t tell a child what I am about to tell you now. You don’t talk about deaths and vortices to a kid, not nowadays. In my time my parents didn’t hesitate to speak of death and the dying. What they seldom mentioned was sex. We’ve got it the other way around.”

Published: Dec 19, 2001
Length: 50 minutes (12,684 words)

The Comedian

[Fiction] On a life in stand-up:

“One time on a talk show, before he made the change in his comedy, the comedian was asked why he started telling jokes. He took a sip from his mug and responded that he just wanted some attention. As a child he’d felt unseen. He was a handsome baby (photographs confirm) but his impression was that no one cooed at him or went cross-eyed to make him smile. Common expressions of affection, such as loving glances, approving grins, and hearty that-a-boys, eluded him. His mother told him ‘Hush, now,’ when he came to her with his needs or questions and he frowned and padded off quietly. He received a measly portion of affirmation from grandparents, elderly neighbors, and wizened aunts who never married, folks who were practically in the affirmation-of-children business. In kindergarten, he was downright appalled to find the bullies stingy with noogies and degrading nicknames. The comedian believed that he was unseen, overlooked, and not-perceived to a greater extent than other people were unseen, overlooked, and not-perceived, when in actuality he was overlooked as much as everyone else, he just felt it more keenly. The talk show host asked him what his first joke was. He said he didn’t remember, but he must have liked what happened because he did it again.”

Published: Feb 19, 2013
Length: 11 minutes (2,948 words)