Female Writer Bingo

How to play: Fill in any row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) if you’ve experienced any of the statements below (or similar). When you’ve completed a row, release your frustration by shouting “BINGO!“

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The Search for a Story

It became important for me to write a story about my life, a true story, so I sat down to write and immediately began to fret. What would it be? I wondered. Not, I repeat, NOT another travel story for God’s sake. I’ve nearly exhausted those. But then I said to myself, You haven’t used all of your travel stories in nonfiction. Maybe in fiction, but not nonfiction. Either way, no travel stories. Okay, I said to myself, I can deal with that, so what about all the weird places you’ve lived, or places you’ve spent extended periods of time but not quite lived? How might one of those episodes figure into a story? Like that time you stayed in a trailer park in San Antonio for two months, worked twelve hours a day in a shopping mall, were allowed only two days off out of sixty. On your first day off, Thanksgiving, you and your wife at the time dined at Denny’s and it was awful. Isn’t that worth telling? Well, not really. That’s the extent of the story, already told. Then I said to myself, But Joan Didion could make it interesting. Hell, she could make a potato chip interesting. But then I reminded myself that I was absolutely not Joan Didion. Nobody is Joan Didion. But surely we must dream, I said to myself. Then I fretted some more.

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The Resurrection of the Author

For David Foster Wallace—a writer who, three years ago, I would have been loathe to cite as the bedrock of this essay (more on that below)—good fiction, and for our purposes I think it is safe to say good art, was all about a communal clash—sometimes rough, sometimes smooth, sometimes both, usually inflected with dynamism not only in form but in content and trajectory—what he calls, later in this interview, the artist giving the reader “imaginative access to other selves.” But it’s also about something else: a dramatic reversal. Sometimes the reversal is of the reader’s expectations, sometimes the reversal occurs in the heart of a character, but wherever it happens the most important part is that it occurs as an experience for the reader. “I had a teacher,” DFW says in the same interview, and I’ll substitute the word art for fiction, “that used to say good art’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” I think that’s lovely.

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Not Quite a ‘Manifesto of Sensationalism’: Some Thoughts About Some Terms that Might Describe a Novel I Wrote

The first thing Adam did when presented with a splendiferous world, uninhabited by anyone else, was start naming shit. Later his descendants grouped everything that had a name into categories. As far as I know, no other animal on the planet categorizes every element of existence. It’s one of the things that makes us human. We come to terms. Per Darwin, we evolved from amphibians into something like apes until we became humans capable of posting brief responses online about the novels we’ve read. I’ve done this since 2007 on Goodreads. I’ve left a trail of thoughts to follow whenever I feel like I’ve forgotten every book I’ve read over the past seven years. Now that Atticus has made my novel The Shimmering Go-Between available for human categorizing pleasure, I’d like to see what I mean by a few literary labels that, more often than not, might be slapped upon it.

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The AR Reading List

An ongoing assortment of books by contributors, staff, and books we've featured in reviews.