Some other recommendations of creative non-fiction, memoirs, etc by women and nonbinary people:
and , by Helene Stapinski (the second one particularly if you have any interest in music)
, by Jesmyn Ward
all of Ivan E. Coyote's books of stories (they're basically creative non-fiction, but are sometimes marketed as fiction? They're definitely autobiographical, though)
by Rae Spoon
by Elissa Washuta
by Katha Pollitt
and by Allison Bechdel (these are graphic memoirs, so if you prefer a more visual medium, here you go)
by Marjane Satrapi (same)
by Roz Chast (same)
by Anya Ulinich (a highly autobiographical graphic novel)
by Jennifer Teege
by Edwidge Danticat
by Maggie Nelson
by Isabel Wilkerson (this book is huge and covers decades of time in the Great Migration experiences of African-Americans…and it's so, so good)
by Daisy Hernandez
by Rebecca Solnit
by Sara Josephine Baker (a memoir by a pediatrician and early advocate of public health in early-20th-century New York)
by Eula Biss
I just wrote a long piece to go under this date, and then did something that made it all disappear. I am admiring of all its fancy tricks, but I have to tell you: I hate computers. I really do. I despair of everything we've lost in order to gain the conveniences. I used to send my editor finished manuscripts tied with beautiful ribbons and now when I submit a mss I just hit a stupid button. Letters are all but dead despite all the swell stationery available and I am as guilty as the next guy because I hardly ever write letters any more, not even to my mother who LOVES letters but the thing is I always feel like she already knows everything and my letters to her would just say, "Well, as you know...." (I do get many many letters from readers and I have sung their praises before and will again later in this entry.) People are spending way too much time in front of screens, myself included. I'll tell you, I am ready for a rocker to put on the front porch, where I can sit and bitch all day about how I hate and fear modern times in general and technology in particular. The only thing I like is that we don't have to dial nines and zeros anymore; I do approve of touch-tone. I am ready to start my new town: Ludditeville With Touch Tone. If you would like to join, please hitch up your horse to your wagon and come on over. We will have lots of chickens, which I also saw in Wisconsin. I saw a bunch of chickens and the rooster sounded just like a person trying to sound just like him, if you know what I mean. Er-er-er-er-ERRR! And the lady chickens all walking around muttering under their breaths making those comforting cluck-cluck-cluck sounds, those maiden aunt, now, now-don't-you-worry-about-a-thing sounds. Those lady chickens really need aprons tied around their waists, not the bib ones of course, just ones that tie around their waists. Such as they are. Those lady chickens really seem like the cozy relatives who invite you over for roast chicken on a Sunday, but HOW WEIRD WOULD THAT BE?
Before I was so RUDELY INTERRUPTED by my computer error, I was telling about a walk I took in Wisconsin the other night, the rolling acres of dark fields full of fireflies. It was like a firefly convention. Well, more to the point, considering what that flashing signifies, it was like a firefly Woodstock, all that endless, wanton availability. And before the fireflies came out the sky got colored a deep red, then pink, then the lightest of pinks. And before that the sky had been that blue of picture books and the land the greenest of greens. I really like green and blue together. I see that I have a lot of it in my house. Also I have a lot of butter, for which I am sure to now be vindicated on account of the movie Julie and Julia which I am going to see today. I'm not eating popcorn in there. No. I'm thinking beef burgundy and pommes frites.
I got a letter from a reader named Jim, who told me about how he had started painting again after he read Home Safe. He sent a card featuring a lovely watercolor called "White Lillies with Hens and Chickens "(not chicken- chickens, although imagine how thrilled I was at the very possibility. No he painted hens and chickens, the plants). The other watercolor was called " Purple Globe Thistle with Lillies." Just to say those titles puts me in a good mood: the world is generous with beauty, even if it is polluted with computers. Another letter from a woman named Alison said she read The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and she was "lying on my bed alternately laughing and weeping all afternoon."
I just turned in the next novel and I suppose I'm throwing caution to the wind when I tell you I love this book. I really do. I loved writing it because I loved being with the characters. It's about a 40th high school reunion, and it's from five points of view. It's called THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU. Lots of humor in this one. Well, there'd have to be. A bunch of old farts back out on the dance floor, feeling eighteen again.
I fear I have now forgotten how to put recipes on my site (I really need to rent a room to a kid who knows how to do all this stuff and says "Ugkay" in that breezy way young people do) but I'm going to try anyway. My daughter Julie had a party and her husband's Aunt Cheryl (who is a fabulous cook) brought brownies that practically made my head spin around like in The Exorcist. These are just incredible, I'm not kidding. Even my sister who doesn't even like brownies loved these. Please make them. Make sure there are others about because you cannot stop eating them. I'm not kidding.
Finally, speaking of food, you may be aware that I did an essay on NPR for "You Must Read This." I talked about my favorite cookbook, "Beat This." If you missed it, you can see it online. On your damn computer. Just put "Ann Hodgman, Elizabeth Berg" in google. Do this because I don't know how to provide a link, surprise. (And if you do read it and like it, please hit the "recommend" button, that would make the producer so so so happy. And me.) But anyway, the response was so great they sold out and people were selling copies for over $200. DO NOT BUY THESE COOKBOOKS AT INFLATED PRICES. The publisher is going to reprint "Beat This" (a new and revised edition, I can't wait) and I think you can still get "Beat That" for regular prices.
Okay, breakfast time. Then Homer gets a walk. Then I need to work. Then I'm going to the movie. Thursday I'm going to babysit my grandchildren for three days. I can hardly wait to make them like me best. Bribing is so not beneath me.
First of all, of course "Learning to Drive" is self-indulgent. Memoir is self-indulgent. This hasn't stopped generations of great, serious writers from mining their private existences for wisdom, beauty or humor. As it happens, a number of Pollitt's essays are wise and very funny, and if not altogether pretty in content, then at least fine-boned in style. And in addition to being blood-and-guts revelations about her private devastations, they offer a view of the ways in which her political ideologies -- the things we respect her for -- have been woven throughout her romantic, social and familial life.
That's not to say that I was pressured to write on these topics any more than Pollitt was forced to write about her breakup in the New Yorker. It's also not to say that personal writing precludes more traditionally serious work: Maureen Dowd's ruminations on her dating life have not kept her off the Op-Ed page, and writing about her wedding menu has not prevented New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor from getting on the presidential campaign trail. The hanging out of Pollitt's dirty laundry has not slowed the stream of acid political commentary emerging from her Nation column.
Pollitt is used to her share of ad feminem hit jobs. The publication of a collection of her feminist essays last summer prompted Ana Marie Cox to brattily in the New York Times Book Review about Pollitt's "preserved-in-amber" version of feminism. "Learning to Drive" has already earned Pollitt two scalding reviews of a different sort, one from the New York Times and one from the Los Angeles Times, and both written by women appalled at the sight of a political thinker they both respect in her public life unmasked as, yuck, a woman, in the privacy of her own confessional essays.
It's a cloudy day, humidity thick in the air, and it's almost foggy. Good vampire weather, if they didn't sleep during the day. When do they ever get to the post office, is my question? Wet leaves are pasted to the sidewalk, and from my office window I can see changes on my service berry tree: orange touches here and there, as though it has been to the beauty parlor to be highlighted. Kids are back in school, and one of my favorite things to do when I walk Homer past the elementary school at the end of my block is peek in the windows so I can see what all the kids are up to, to see how the teachers have decorated their classrooms. I have a fantasy of going to school all over again in a month: to start with nursery school and proceed right through college. To observe and participate. There's not a doubt in my mind that I would like the ends of the spectrum the best: nursery school and graduate school. I really want to take a ride down to the University of Chicago and sneak into a classroom and just listen. Note to self: DO IT! I also want to volunteer at a day care center and a nursing home. Note to self: DO THAT, TOO! I did manage to take a class so that I can be a volunteer for literacy. What I want to do is help people practice learning English at the Conversation Cafe. All I had to hear was that they served donuts and coffee and my hand was waving in the air.
I am the stunned owner of a new kitten. I must be out of my mind to get a kitten so close to tour time. But I have a trusted caregiver and I could not resist. This kitten is named Grace, although she ought to be called Kowabunga, or Mighty Cat, or Hillary Clinton, because she's afraid of NOTHING. I got her from a farm family and she is currently living in my office until she's old enough to negotiate the stairs. Her favorite toy is a rubber band. So much for the adorable little toys I bought her. "Look at this fancy pants ball!" I say. And she says, "No thank you. I like the rubber band. Also paper clips and your feet."
The paperback version of Home Safe is coming out on Tuesday the 29th, and I have a favor to ask, because I am conducting an experiment. If you have any plans to buy the book, will you please try to do it on that day or as close to it as possible? I'll tell you why next time.
And now to my new favorite feature: Mailbag:
to Mary in New Holstein Wisconsin: I was struck by your comment about your daughter telling you to put away a book that was making you cry. Naturally, she was doing this out of love for you, to protect you. But if I've learned anything in my life, it's that the way out of grief is through it. I have also learned that stress hormones are released in tears. A good cry really is good for you. That said, more than anything, I wish you peace.
To Polly in Highlands Ranch, Colorado: WHAT???? WE WENT TO SAME HIGH SCHOOL IN LUDWIGSBURG, GERMANY??? I can't wait to see you at the reading at the Tattered Cover, even though you were a cheerleader. Please do not wear your uniform or your megaphone necklace or talk about dating jocks.
To Lynn, who sent a lovely card featuring tulips and apples (and what else do you need in the world, besides kittens and a good dog?) just to tell me that she loved Home Safe: thank you. So often we don't tell someone who has pleased us or moved us. And when I get letters like yours, I'm inspired to send one to someone else.
Today, I'm having lunch with the artistic director of the 16th Street Theater, where the play version of The Pull of the Moon was mounted. We're going to talk about doing another play, centered around a holiday theme. I can't wait to talk to her, because I'd love to do another play.
As for now, I have to get showered and dressed. Dang it.
My lover used to joke that I had missed my chance to rid myself of my former husband forever by failing to run him over while an unlicensed, inexperienced driver. Actually, my ex and I get on very well. He’s an excellent father, and when I have a computer problem he helps me over the phone, although he refuses to come and fix the machine himself. Now when I am careering up Riverside Drive I sometimes fantasize that I see my lover and his new girlfriend in the crosswalk. I wave my arms helplessly as the car, taking on a life of its own, homes into them like a magnet smashing into a bar of iron. Sometimes I put the drab colleague in the crosswalk, too, and run all three of them down. No jury would believe it had been an accident, although Ben would surely testify in my favor. I’d go to jail for decades, and the case would be made into a movie for one of those cable channels for women—“Out of Control: The Katha Pollitt Story.” What a disappointing end to my struggle for personal growth! Yet one not without consolations: in jail, after all, I would not need to drive. I could settle into comfy middle age, reorganizing the prison library and becoming a lesbian.
In the title essay, Pollitt (, 2006, etc.), a long-time columnist for , has lost her man and consequently must learn to drive a car, a task fraught with difficulties for a woman in late middle age.
Kooser, TedLandau, Deborah Lee, Li-YoungMadzirov, NikolaMali, TaylorMatar, HishamMay, JamaalMcHugh, HeatherMikhail, DunyaMitchard, JacquelynMohabir, RajivMojgani, AnisMoody, RickMoore, HonorMort, ValzhynaMueenuddin, DaniyalMuldoon, PaulMyles, EileenNdibe, OkeyNelson, MarilynNezhukumatathil, AimeeOrr, GregoryOsman, LadanOstriker, AliciaPeacock, MollyPhillips, Patrick Phillips, Rowan RicardoPollitt, KathaProse, FrancineQuiñonez, ErnestoRankine, ClaudiaRobertson, RobinRobinson, RoxanaSapphireSaunders, GeorgeSayrafiezadeh, SaïdSchoonebeek, DannielSchultz, PhilipSeibles, TimSeshadri, VijayShapiro, DaniSharif, SolmazSimic, CharlesSmith, MaggieSmith, PatriciaSmith, Tracy K.
Now those two essays, in which she confessed to debasements like looking the other way after finding another woman's panties in the laundry, to not giving her boyfriend in the mornings, to the fact that he intellectually belittled her and that she -- the great feminist! -- stayed with him for seven years anyway, until he finally left her for someone else, are the centerpieces (and one of them the title) of "Learning to Drive," a new collection of Pollitt's writing.