Tag Archives: writing by women

Forgotten Women Writers: A Reading List

Illustration by Kate Gavino

For every Edith Wharton and Jane Austen, there are numerous women writers whose works aren’t found in the typical literary canon or school-required reading list. I’ve come across a handful of people who claim to be die-hard Anita Brookner or Theresa Hak Kyung Cha fans; these writers instill a certain kind of fervor among their devotees. It’s as if the authors themselves had reached out from the bookshelf and chosen their readers rather than the other way around. Their relative obscurity is what makes their fans so passionate — these are voices that never quite found the right audience when they were alive.

Perhaps now, thanks to the megaphone of the internet, they’ll find their disciples with a bit more ease. These five stories focus on women whose work has been overlooked, forgotten, or misinterpreted. Read more…

One Novelist Remembers Her Moment

The cover was striking: it showed a syringe. On the back cover one character leaned over a table, snorting cocaine. The calls from radio stations began, the advertising spots, the letters, above all the letters. Girls telling me about their first acid trip. Gay guys who’d been thrown out of their houses. Girls in love with gay guys. Girls in love with my characters. Some I answered, others I didn’t. I didn’t know what to say to them. The reviews were what today we would call “mixed,” using the English word. My publisher’s head of PR would tell me that I ought to make thank you calls even to reviewers who had torn the novel apart, and I’d tell him to fuck off. People would ask me about my next novel. I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a writer. They’d say, “But you’re the spokeswoman of a generation,” and I’d want to cry. My mother drove me to some of the interviews. She was proud of me but didn’t comment on the contents of the book. I don’t know whether Bajar es lo peor is a good novel, but it is a sad novel: the boys shoot up with wine, have nightmares, prostitute themselves, talk to dead people, and love is no good for anything. There are no adults in the book.

The months of fame — there must have been six, maybe eight — were exhausting. I’d dress for television in a faux-leather miniskirt and an AC/DC T-shirt: I thought I looked like a rocker, daring, pretty. Seeing myself seated there in the talk show chair, I couldn’t help being horrified by my white, rather chubby legs and my obvious need for better makeup and hairstyling — not to mention my stammering in response to any question whatsoever. I was a terrible interviewee. With cultural journalists I was even worse. The humiliations piled up. They’d ask me about writers I had never heard of, and I’d pretend to know who they were talking about. My answers were muddled and left me looking like a fraud.

As part of Electric Literature’s The Writing Life Around the World series, Argentine novelist Mariana Enriquez tells how hype, honesty, and timing made her a brief media darling in 1995, when she lived on cheap intoxicants and low aspirations through a tumultuous era, before the news cycle delivered her back to where she wanted to be: quietly writing outside the spotlight. This is an homage to the power of youth and one’s influences, and coming out the other side.

Read the story

Yes, All Women: A Reading List of Stories Written By Women

This week, a lot happened. A misogynist went on a violent rampage. #YesAllWomen took off on Twitter. Dr. Maya Angelou, feminist author and all-around genius (and don’t get me started on her doctor honorary), died at 86 years old. This week, I present a long list of essays, articles and interviews written by women. Many are about women, too. Some are lighthearted; others reflect on the events of the past week. I included a variety of subjects to honor those who might be triggered by the deadly violence of last week’s shooting, because women do not only write in the wake of tragedy—we write, we exist, for all time. So in this list there is reflection and humor; there are books and music and religion; there are all kinds of stories, fiction and non. Read what you need. Engage or escape.

1. “Summer in the City.” (Emma Aylor, May 2014)

Aylor, author of Twos, uses #YesAllWomen to write about about the sexual harassment she experienced as she researched her dissertation on the work of Wallace Stevens.

2. “In Relief of Silence and Burden.” (Roxane Gay, May 2014)

The author of An Untamed State and critically acclaimed badass gives her “testimony … so we can relieve ourselves of silence and burden” in the vein of #YesAllWomen, sharing stories of harassment, abuse and more.

3. “Not All Women: A Reflection on Being a Musician and Female.” (Allison Crutchfield, Impose Magazine, May 2014)

A wide range of female musicians react to a depressingly misogynistic article in Noisey about how to tour in a dude-dominated band. They share what they’ve learned on the road, emphasizing self-care, communication with bandmates, and doing what you need to do to feel safe and be your best self.

Read more…