In this 1958 photo, my mother is eighteen, my father twenty. They’ve been married two years. Three years later, my father was badly injured in a logging accident. He spent months in a full-body cast, and my young mother realized how easily she could be left isolated and alone. She had heard the stories the other women told: how the wife had opened the door, already knowing with the first knock, already disbelieving the words she had always feared she would hear: how the bulldozer rolled; the choke chain snapped; the dead-topped tree, the kind they called “widow maker,” gave in to the wind it had withstood for decades and came down like a javelin. And then one day, nearly two years after my father returned to work in the woods, our neighbor came running across our muddy yard, fear on her face that could mean only one thing. I remember how my mother fell against the window, clutching the curtain. In those few moments before the woman burst in, half her head still in curlers, the other half sprung loose in ribbons of hair, my mother donned the shroud of a widow. But it wasn’t my mother the woman cried for but Jackie Kennedy, and as we all sat before the neighborhood’s only television, watching the news unfold, my mother mourned for the country, for the slain president, for the widow in her brain-spattered dress, for the long hours she herself had yet to endure, waiting for my father to come home.
13 Essays That Made Me Drop Everything and Write
We asked essayist, storyteller and all-round fountain of literary excellence Megan Stielstra to put together a collection of her all-time favourite essays. This is what she chose:
The Careless Language of Sexual Violence by Roxane Gay - I am holding my breath for the spring 2014 release of her essay collection, Bad Feminist.
Reasons Why I Do Not Wish To Leave Chicago: An Incomplete, Random List by Aleksander Hemon - From his outstanding essay collection The Book of My Lives
Place by Dorothy Allison (print only) - From the Writers Notebook series. I have learned so much from all of the essays collected in the series, adapted from craft lectures at Tin House. Dorothy Allison’s collection Skin also made my brain explode.
The Vietnam in Me by Tim O’Brien - “On Gator, we used to say, the wind doesn’t blow, it sucks. Maybe that’s what happened — the wind sucked it all away. My life, my virtue…”
The Love of My Life by Cheryl Strayed - Her collection Tiny Beautiful Things should be required reading everywhere for everything. Always.
How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon - A true classic from his essay collection of the same name.
My Mother, My Daughter by Samantha Irby - from her stunning essay collection, Meaty
Joe W. by Bobby Biedryzcki - “You don’t come to meetings to pick up girls, he told me, and I wanted to laugh. I’d been sober for exactly three weeks…”
The Story I Always Tell and Never Tell by Gina Frangello - “There is a story I like to gloss over but rarely really tell…”
An Unauthoized Autobiography of Me by Sherman Alexie - “This may be all you need to know about Native American literature…”
Living Like Weasels by Annie Dillard - Permission to consider how a seemingly meaningless event can have a profound impact on our lives.
Getting Over Girl Hate by Tavi Gevinson - I think I applauded while reading this.
Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt by Steve Almond - This essay changed everything that I thought about writers writing about writers.
Megan Stielstra’s personal essay collection, Once I Was Cool, is forthcoming May 2014, and her excellent essay Channel B was recently included in The Best American Essays 2013. She is the Literary Director of 2nd Story and teaches writing and performance at Columbia College and Northwestern University.
(Source: tetw, via bycheng)
It’s easy to forget that Labor Day isn’t just a BS holiday designed to take advantage of perfect grilling weather. With a new labor movement bubbling up for low-wage workers there’s no time like the present to check out this reading list of perfect Labor Day reads.
Working Class Books: A Labor Day Reading List
To work, to labor, to read..,