Toward the end of 2017 I found myself devouring short stories. I then quickly moved onto essays. I really do enjoy short stories and essays because they tend to pack lots of punch into just a handful of sentences. They get to the point and do not take alot of time to “set the scene”. I do not have to suffer through paragraphs describing the snow and how green the luscious green hills are. We get straight to the meat and potatoes and that is my kind of writing.
One day I found myself sitting Indian style on the floor of my local library searching through the new non-fiction section (If you speak Dewey it was 814) I took home a stack of essay collections. I first read we are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby. She is a curvaceous, bisexual, African American female blogger and there has been lots of chatter about her. She created the blog ‘Bitches Gotta Eat’ and I plan on reading it. Admittedly I laughed out loud MANY times while reading we are never meeting in real life. Irby is honest in a Chicago bitchy kind of way that I honestly find amusing. She had a love hate relationship with her bitchy cat Helen Keller. She just wants to live her life the way she wants and she will never apologize for that. While I do not envy her life I can appreciate her determination to be the Samantha Irby she wants to be. She works a full-time job that does not require much energy from her. She does not necessarily have much drive. She loves her food….maybe too much….and just wants to wear comfy sweats and dirty shirts with holes. I do not find that sort of life appealing but I enjoyed reading about it from the amusingly honest Samantha Irby.
As is always true when sitting Indian style on the floor of a public library I made a brilliant discovery. Cue the celebratory music. Release the doves. Shoot off those fireworks people. I found something new! First I will mention that I checked this book out for the sole reason that Roxane Gay said “Stielstra is a masterful essayist”. Mind you I have yet to read any of Roxane Gay’s work but I trust this woman’s opinion. My Goodreads review of The Wrong Way to Save Your Life by Megan Stielstra I simply say “give it a round of applause”. I read this slowly because it really made me think deeply. While Stielstra discusses aspects of her personal life such as postpartum depression, being victim to the mortgage crisis and her father’s mortality she also explores deeper issues such as open-carry laws on college campuses. This collection of essays poses important questions while also exploring how these topics affect you. This was my first completed read of 2018 and I am really glad that it carried over from 2017. Megan Stielstra was a female voice that I was not aware of. It was the perfect way to set the tone of my reading in 2018.
I plan on continuing my love affair with essays. I am impressed by the education that I am gaining. I feel empowered after I finish them. I see that I am not alone. I feel a connection with the writers. I feel better after I read them. Maybe you will too. I encourage you to give them a try!