The world is stuff and nonsense at best and a violent mess at worst, but we still find homes, and connections, and communities.
When Latinx author Wendy C. Ortiz shopped her memoir, Excavation, about the inappropriate sexual relationship her eighth grade English teacher initiated with her, mainstream publishers wouldn’t give her the time of day. She published it with tiny Future Tense Books, and the book gained a strong following. Among her readers was white author Kate Elizabeth Russell, whose forthcoming novel, My Dark Vanessa — for which she received a seven-figure deal and a blurb from Stephen King — is remarkably similar. In this essay, Ortiz takes the white-dominated publishing industry to task for its longstanding discrimination against, and erasure of, writers of color.
An essay in which Longreads contributor Monica Drake recounts learning that a young, white, male intern at a literary magazine she’d submitted to had publicly humiliated her by taking her story to a party to read aloud and mock a sex scene she had included — a scene in which gender dynamics are upended.
“D’s depression is the weather in our house, except there’s no forecast. Some days we wake to sunny skies, gentle breezes. We talk and laugh. We eat and nap. We watch the baby the way one watches a campfire, not for any particular reason, but because it is there and strangely fascinating in its combination of predictability and surprise… Maelstroms form unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere. And on the days they don’t, even when we’re smiling, listening to music, rubbing lotion onto the baby’s chubby arms, I am watching the sky. That fluffy cloud, is it a bunny? Or a dragon? Or a gathering storm?”
Alison Kinney visits a Stony Brook University laboratory where the physical and emotional effects of social rejection are studied, and becomes a subject herself.
“Teeth. Teeth. Teeth. So many other traumas — Men. Money. Electric fences. — but always, always teeth.”
Hafizah Geter sets the record straight on outrageous displays of racism and white privilege in a literary fellowship she took part in, after The New Yorker frames the story “as a quirky tale of wealth and nepotism.”