April links: the personal essay edition

First: a piece by Joyce Carol Oates, “I Am Sorry to Inform You,” presumably excerpted from her memoir on widowhood. It is, as you might expect from Oates, deeply moving in subtle and unexpected ways.

And: My MFA classmate Lizzie Stark has written about the choice to have a double mastectomy at 28 over at the Daily Beast. It’s a powerful essay that manages to combine her emotions on the situation with humor.

And: This month was the AWP conference in Denver. I did not make it this year. Again. Every year I say I’m going to go, and, well, I haven’t been once. This year I decided to spend the money on writer’s workshops closer to home. If you didn’t make it to Denver, or even perhaps more so if you did, you might enjoy this AWP Postmortem on the Virgina Quarterly Review blog. I did.

Next year, you are so my year. I have no excuse not to make it to DC to attend AWP, as my Dad lives there and I won’t have to shell out for a hotel room.

But I digress.

Next: I have written before about dreaming in another language, and what happens when a second language begins to overtake a first. But I write stories and essays in my own language, and I can’t imagine what it would take to write creatively in a second (or third!) language, as Ha Jin and Aleksandar Hemon do. Which is why I found this essay, by writer Christiane Alsop, so fascinating.

And: commas! I overuse commas. Or at least, I use them a lot. I admit it. I don’t care. Not really. This  old essay, “In Praise of the Humble Comma,” by one of my favorite travel writers, Pico Iyer, explains it all:

The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said — could it not? — of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think; take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place.

I’m in a cafe writing this, and I have actually bought a chocolate brownie that is too rich to eat. It seems impossible, I know, but it’s true. Do not buy anything called “chocolate praline fudge brownie,” and for your health, do not combine even a few bites of said brownie with caffeine. I think it is entirely possible that I am about to bounce off of something.

Finally: Chris Offutt’s Guide to Literary Terms cracked me up.


One thought on “April links: the personal essay edition

  1. Pingback: Links « 80,000 words

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