Inspired by my previous post, I decided to look further into other authors Hawthorne Books has published. Through this research, I discovered Kerry Cohen, a sex & relationship counselor and writing instructor working in Portland, Oregon. For this reason, it is unsurprising that most of Cohen’s essays, memoirs, and nonfiction pieces are centered around relationships, sexuality, and various topics surrounding women (such as women & shopping or female relationships). Cohen’s work has appeared in The New York Times Modern Love column, the Washington Post Outlook, Brevity.com, and in several anthologies. She has also been featured on Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, and BBC Saturday Live.
I first discovered Sallie Tisdale when I stumbled upon an excerpt from her latest publication, Violation. The particular piece that I read was taken from an essay in which she discusses what it was like to be a high school teacher, and the stark, gender-stereotypical differences she observed between the boys’ and girls’ writing. I appreciated her candidacy as she acknowledged a topic we are all far too aware of, but often seem to overlook given the ubiquity of its occurrence. What I most enjoyed about her writing is that it was simultaneously reflective and personal, but also analytic and professional, which enabled her to discuss a fairly common topic in a seemingly novel way.
Like many of the authors I have previously tracked, much of Tisdale’s work can be found in Harper’s Magazine, and The New Yorker. Tisdale has also written for the Antioch Review, Conjunctions, Threepenny Review, and Tricycle. Violation, the collection of essays I discussed above, was published by Hawthorne Books, whose name I believe I came across during my trip to Literati Book stores, but whose collection of authors I did not recognize in my research following my discovery of Tisdale. Perhaps I will look into one of Hawthorne Books’ other authors for next week.
This week I decided to backtrack the work of Leslie Jamison, a novelist & essayist who’s best known for her collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. Having lived all over the world — Nicaragua, Iowa, and New York, to name a few — Jamison utilizes her life experiences in much of her writing. The reason I selected Jamison for this week’s author tracking was because I used her work as a genre model for my first experiment. I was really impressed by the style of her writing, for the excerpt that I read was incredibly unique, and wanted to learn more about her background as a writer. Jamison has been published in several venues, such as Harper’s, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer, but what I was most surprised to discover is that writing is not (entirely) her profession. In fact, despite working as a columnist for the New York Times Book Review, Jamison is currently an assistant professor at Columbia University where she directs the nonfiction writing program.
When I went to Literati for this class, I picked up a copy of The New Philosopher, which essentially is a periodical filled with philosophy related articles, essays, and art work. While reading this edition, I decided to read the cover article which was titled “Fake News,” and I decided that I would expand my reading list by tracking the author, Tom Chatfield.
Chatfield’s website has links to different articles of his that have been published, so I decided I would start by reading one of those, an article for BBC Future entitled, “What Our Descendants Will Deplore About Us.” I have always thought about future generations and what our actions would do for or against them, so I figured that this would be a good article to read. One of the first statements in the article reads “no matter how benevolent the intention, what we assume is good, right or acceptable in society may change. From slavery to sexism, there’s plenty we find distasteful about the past. Yet while each generation congratulates itself for moving on from the darker days of its parents and ancestors, that can be a kind of myopia.” I thought that this point was really interesting because we often write off older people’s prejudices, like your 97 year old great-uncle thinking that your black boyfriend is inherently bad, for example, as just a difference in the way “society” works. This has always made me wonder what kinds of things people my age might say when we’re older will have the same type of reaction. He also goes on and discusses other issues such as climate change and nuclear weapons, which are two things that have the potential to cause a lot of damage to the world that our future generations will live in.
This week I decided to track Aaron Gilbreath, best known for one of his recently published collection of essays, Everything We Don’t Know. I was inspired to explore Gilbreath’s work further because I appreciate his knack for candidacy and conversational tone, coupled with his ability to discuss hard-learned life lessons in an endearing and honest manner. Prior to having his essays published by Curbside Splendor just last year, Gilbreath was published in several venues including Harper’s, The New York Times, the Paris Review, Vice, The Morning News, Saveur, Tin House, The Believer, Kenyon Review, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, Narratively, The Threepenny Review, and Brick. I believe Gilbreath’s career as a journalist has shaped his writing in ways that have enabled his personal essays to excel and gain such popularity, likely explaining the breadth of venues in which his work has been published.
The author I chose to follow was Chuck Klosterman. If I’m being honest, his work first caught my eye on the basis of his latest book’s (X) aesthetic: an all black, matte cover with “X” printed simply and boldly in white on the cover. As I flipped through his essays I was drawn to his style of writing; although Klosterman is known for frequently discussing popular topics in the world of athletics, he writes in an effortless, conversational tone that makes it easy for readers of any background to follow what he is saying (even if they really have no idea what’s going on). As I began to research more of his works, I discovered that Klosterman has been published in several popular media outlets, such as ESPN, The New York Times, GQ, Adweek, the LA Times, Rolling Stone, and Spin. Given Klosterman’s proclivity for sports journalism, I then decided to track another, less well-known essayist: Scaachi Koul. Although Koul now has a book out (One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter), she began as a Buzzfeed writer, and slowly expanded her list of venues as her works gained recognition. Although Koul’s work can now be found in popular outlets such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, she began by being published in The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Hazlitt, The Hairpin, Jezebel, Maisonneuve, Motherboard, and Flare. Following these two very different authors (both in content, style and background) was really useful for me, for I can now see how one’s work can take off (really in any direction) given the right venue. It was also interesting to recognize that despite their different paths, they are now both published authors whose work I stumbled upon on the same shelf while visiting Literati.
I read Cat’s piece “I’D REALLY LIKE TO KNOW: Do You Prefer Vanilla?”. Clicking on the article and seeing a photo of a lotion I figured it was a product review. I hate product reviews, mainly because they are boring, but also because it’s either someone who absolutely LOVES the product too much to not be working for them or someone who absolutely HATES it and probably hates most things in the world because they are so dang negative. Anyways, I kept reading to see which Cat was going to be. She was honestly neither. It didn’t seem to be a conventional product review at all. The “vanilla” she referred to not only was referencing the lotion, but also the scent altogether and the characteristic. She exclaims how she wishes she was vanilla rather than just smelled like it. I laughed thinking about whether people would consider my personality “vanilla”. Now that i’m writing that, I would hope not. I’d like to believe I am a little different, but who really knows. Anyways, Cat’s writing is super unconventional and I love it. I can’t wait to finish her book “How to Murder Life” and hopefully by the end of it I know how to murder life as carefree as she does.