In four essays totaling less than 200 pages, Febos writes of "death, trauma, love, loss, recovery." She advocates for writing about the body and the self, for writing sex scenes without rules of taboo words and shame, and for writing as an act of confession and reckoning with lived experience and trauma. This is not a memoir or just advice on craft, but a beautiful reflection of identifying as a writer.
In these essays Sabrina Imbler connects lived experiences and hybrid aspects of their identity with ten different deep sea creatures. Each essay is a thoughtful presentation of race, gender, and self-discovery, synthesizing these introspections with scientific analogies. The cuttlefish is born to morph, and it can change both color and texture for camouflage and communication. In one essay Imbler explores this transformation ability as an extension of their own morphing gender and physical form as a queer human being. The blend is seamless. This is a book I will be putting into the hands of my born family, my queer community, and anyone else I can convince.
These essays, written between 1968 and 2000, highlight what made Didion one of a kind. "Why I Write," "On Being Unchosen by the College of One's Choice," and "Some Women" are individually phenomenal but together within the collection encapsulate Didion's simultaneously critical and caring tone. She's no-nonsense, she's cool, she writes each word with precision and purpose, she's Joan!!!
I'm so glad this amalgamation of the editors' and writers' work of re/unlearning Helen Gurley Brown's 1962 Sex and the Single Girl is alive and waiting for readers. The source text, while titillating for its time, is very much outdated for our time so these writers expand past the white, heteronormative, cisgendered, ablebodied, monogamous way of sex and relationships clogging up the information pipeline for single women. These essays do more than just advise you to be sexy for the sake of a man. Female pleasure, queer dating, transitioning, polyamory, celibacy, IVF, not getting married, not having kids - it tackles so much and is definitely worth your time.
I've long been an admirer of Hustvedt's refinement and sophistication. Both cerebral and intimate, her work is always the perfect amalgamation of solace and stimulation.
Mothers, Fathers, and Others brings together a fantastic selection of Hustvedt's more recent essays: from familial legacies to misogyny, the violence borne of groupthink to Jane Austen, each is an absorbing triumph in its own right.
Nestled within the nucleus of motherhood literature comes Linea Nigra, written in aphorism and anecdote that intersect over and over again in beautiful orbits. Barrera writes about childbirth, breastfeeding, and care through her mother’s artwork and her grandmother’s experience as a doula, as well as the author’s own extensive reading notes and frustrations with healthcare. Barrera’s seriousness and intelligence is punctuated by expressions of delight in parenthood.
Is this book about Nina Simone's gum? Of course it is, and the story behind that piece of music history is worth reading alone. But it's also about the multi-instrumentalist and beautiful weirdo Warren Ellis and the magic in his collected talismans over the years as a member of the Bad Seeds and Dirty Three.
Essayist and poet Ni Ghriofa writes a loving autofiction of the sheer physicality of mothering and milk, along with an assay into the life of Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, AKA Eileen O'Connell, a well-born poet in 18th century Ireland who composed a traditional lament after her husband's murder. Ni Ghriofa pursues connection with this Eibhlin Dubh that goes beyond literary scholarship into something like love. Ni Ghriofa's prose is rich and layered, while magically direct and concrete.
Consider the audio version available from Libro.fm to hear the poem in Gaelic.
Elderly women, independent women, and learned women - all of these archetypes were chased down and tormented by society during the European and American witch trials centuries ago, but their mark as a danger to patriarchal rule has carried into contemporary times. Mona Chollet's collection covers everything from historical accounts from academics to her own pop culture musings and how we've come to carry our enduring ideas of Witches for all these years.
In the words of Melissa Lozada-Olivia, "this bitch has me crying to Creed." But that's what King does throughout her essay collection by perfectly balancing the social commentary on pop culture, what's deemed "tacky" and perhaps shameful, with the personal struggles of enjoying what you want to enjoy. Tackling her friendships and relationships and her need to be the sexually available cool girl, she ties it effortlessly to cultural artifacts such as Jersey Shore, warm vanilla sugar, Hot Topic, the Sims, and the American shopping mall. For those who grew up in the 2000s, take this trip down memory lane.