Thus far, the two experiments I have proposed have had a fairly strong opinionated tone, as I have been discussing my experiences/opinions of modern romance. Now, working on my third experiment, I worry that my tone is too judgmental, so I am considering (attempting) to make my piece more objective, although I don’t plan on being successful, at least initially. If this proves unsuccessful, I may try to change the format rather than content, however I’m not sure if my last experiment was modified enough in terms of content to allow this. I’m also wondering if there is a format for my future site that could accommodate/warrant the strength of my opinion? I’m still in the works of developing answers to this, so I am looking forward to my meeting with Ray this week to discuss my thoughts/concerns further!
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.
A. Authoritative, but not trustworthy:
I chose this article because, despite being included in the Harvard Business Review, and being CEO of T-mobile, a relatively prosperous and well-known company, John Legere seems to lack a crucial aspect of leadership: trustworthiness. Simply reading the headline gives his advice a somewhat sleazy and unprofessional aura, which is ultimately what yielded my distrust. The further I read into the article, the less I believed what he was saying. Although these tactics may have worked in his situation, I personally believe they were a fluke, and that “trash-talking rivals” will never prove more successful than actually developing a strong, competitive product/service. Regardless of content, it is the manner in which he delivers such advice — his cocky tone and unapologetic diction — which truly make him, in my opinion, untrustworthy, for he does not embody characteristics of a business leader which I would normally respect and trust.
B. Trustworthy, but not authoritative:
This piece, in my opinion, lacks authority only due to the fact that it is an op-ed. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, conveying that you are a figure who’s opinion can/should be trusted is not easy, however, in this category, Leonhardt is successful. My sense of Leonhard’s trustworthiness derives from the nature of his piece; it is stacked with factual information, diagrams, and quotes from professionals who have the authority he lacks, lending credibility to his message.
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.
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.
The piece I chose to read by Jia Tolentino was “No Offense,” published on Jezebel. What I loved about this essay, as was evidently Tolentino’s intention, is that it is easily digestible; despite addressing a fairly niche audience of (ideally) millennial feminists, the diction and content is incredibly comprehensible, and Tolentino’s ironic, self-critical tone makes it all the more appealing. While I do consider myself a feminist, most “feminist” articles tend to lack appeal to me because I often find, as Tolentino addresses in her essay, that they are long-winded rants spurred by personal offense, encouraging others to take offense as well, without pursuing any real action. It’s not to say that I don’t agree with many of these articles, for I often do, but my issue lies with the fact that there is no resolution. While it is important to voice one’s opinions and to discuss such controversial issues, I personally believe there is a line between using the internet to raise awareness/incite action, and simply indulging ourselves in our emotions for the sake of being validated by others. What I really appreciated about Tolentino’s piece is that it is honest; she shows no hesitation is speaking her piece, while simultaneously examining and acknowledging her own faults as a writer, specifically within the community she is addressing. It is this candidness that drew me into her piece, and without which I would’ve likely stopped reading after the first paragraph or two.
The second piece I chose to read was “The 27th Letter” by Mairead Small Staid, posted on the Poety Foundation’s website. This piece was vastly different from Tolentino’s piece, both in tone and content; instead of a colloquial and inviting tone, Small Staid adopts a much more formal and poetic voice, and addresses a much less controversial, and arguably less relevant, topic: the ampersand (“&” symbol). Identifying the nature of Small Staid’s piece, it is evident that her ideal audience is a more literarily advanced audience — one that appreciates language (Small Staid’s prose are incredibly well written), and also likely has some understanding of its history. In other words, this piece is definitely not directed towards the “average, everyday reader.” Because of this, I found myself identifying with both Small Staid’s “out” and “in” groups; while I love to write and could definitely appreciate the beauty of her diction, I simultaneously felt disconnected from her piece based on her content and clear catering to a “literarily-mature” audience — often throughout her essay I felt as though I wasn’t supposed to be reading it.
Hi! I’m Brynn, a junior majoring in Communications with a focus in Sales & Marketing through the Cappo Sales Track. I’m from just outside of Philly, but spend a lot of time in New York visiting friends or, as of this past summer, working. I absolutely love both cities, and try to take advantage of my close proximity to them as much as possible; I love sporadically planning day trips with my friends to wander around and try new restaurants, or to visit different parts of the city. I also, to my mother’s dismay, really love to do adventurous things, like go skydiving, ATVing, or spelunking. Aside from that, I’m an obnoxious Villanova basketball fan, and spend a concerning amount of time playing Candy Crush (currently on level 1568 and climbing), both of which I’m sure I’ll bring up over the course of this semester.
I’m really excited about being in the MiW program because I’ve always loved writing (I’ve been keeping journals for as long as I can remember), and hope to hone my skills through this minor, both for the benefit of my future professional endeavors, and for my own pleasure. I’m not sure how I would categorize my most admired style of writing because I’ve seen it in so many forms: short stories (like Le Petit Prince or Tuesdays with Morrie), song lyrics, tv/film transcripts, advertisements, even history books. I’m not sure what I would call it exactly, but I really admire the kind of writing that makes you reread a single line over and over and over again until the words are engrained in your mind. The kind of words that could have absolutely no relevance to your life, but make you stop just to appreciate the beauty of their being strung together. Or, even more impressive and desirable, the kind of words that you hang above your door, or contemplate getting permanently inked on your body because they resonate with you so deeply. The words that stick with you for hours after you’ve read them because somehow, this author that you’ve never heard of before, seems to capture everything you’ve ever thought or felt in a few, brief sentences. I guess, in short, I want my writing be memorable in someway, and to hopefully mean something to someone other than myself.