Saturday, January 2, 2010

"The Glasses" Published online at Southern Women's Review TODAY!

On the 9th day of Christmas (January 2) my true love gave to me… my first essay published in the new decade. For those who read my blog regularly, you’ve probably already read the “blog post” version of this essay, “The Glasses,” here.

If you really want to catch up, links to several more posts about my mother are here:

Pushing the Right Buttons January 2009. At the end of this post you can find links to the following essays:

Bingo December 2008
Long Distance Caregiving November 2008
The Purse November 2008
If Mama Ain’t Happy November 2008
HER Mother’s Keeper October 2008
My Mother’s Keeper October 2008
Unhappy Chairs September 2008
The Good Granddaughter August 2008
The Good Daughter Part II July 2008
The Good Daughter Part I June 2008
The Glasses (within the post, “The Treasure Hunt”) April 2008
She Can’t Possibly Be Eighty February 2008
Piece of Mind November 2007

Back in September, I met the editors of the Southern Women’s Review at the Southern Womens Writers Conference at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. They encouraged me to submit an essay for their creative nonfiction section, which I did. I’m thrilled to see it in the first issue of the new year. Click on the link to the current issue and scroll down to page 36 to read “The Glasses,” which is a reflection on one of my many visits with my mother in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. This story took place when she was still in an assisted living facility, about six months before she fell, broke her hip, and had to be moved to a nursing home.

I’m honored to be in such good company in this issue, with Ellen Ann Fentress, whose essays have appeared in The New York Times and the oxford g Writer prize from the ninth biennial Southern Women Writers conference. An MFA graduate of Bennington college, the Mississippi delta native writes on Southern culture and politics as a journalist and also teaches creative nonfiction at Millsaps college in Jackson. She is completing a memoir, hopefully a wry exploration of loss and revised hopes, entitled Mighty Forces of nature.” (this was her bio in the SWR) I met Ellen Ann at the Southern Women Writers, where we were both presenters. But Ellen Ann beat me out in the emerging writers contest! Her essay, “Oyster Anxiety,” appears on page 50 of the SWR.

Just this morning a friend send me an email with a link to this NPR story, “How E-Books Will Change Reading and Writing,”
by Lynn Neary. She quotes Nicholas Carr as saying that the new technology (ebooks) will cause “a retreat from the sophistication and eloquence that characterized the printed page.”

She goes on to say that Time magazine book reviewer Lev Grossman says:

"It will be incumbent on novelists to hook readers right away. You won't be allowed to do a kind of tone poem overture, you're going to want to have blood on the wall by the end of the second paragraph. And I think that's something writers will have to adapt to, and the challenge will be to use this powerfully narrative form, this pulpy kind of mode, to say important things."

I hope they are both wrong. Not because I think I am personally capable of writing with sophistication and eloquence, but I am trying to write powerful narrative, and I hope there will still be an audience for it if I ever finish my memoir. It’s not that I’m opposed to blood on the wall by the end of the second paragraph, and I know I can do pulpy, but I’m aiming for literary prose, and if my readers want to ingest it on their Kindles, I won’t be opposed to that.

But I like to picture them enjoying the book cover, smelling the ink, stroking the pages, and letting their eyes—and minds—rest on certain words and phrases for a while before moving on.

Until then, I hope you enjoy “The Glasses,” even though you have to read it online. (It might also appear in a print journal later, but I don’t know that yet. I’ll keep you posted.)

I hope you (and your 9 ladies) are dancing today! Go, Rebs! (watching the Cotton Bowl)


Elizabeth Westmark said...

Congratulations on having your story published at the Southern Women's Review. I enjoyed reading it a lot. I had a friend with Alzheimers (a former dentist), and every time I saw Dr.Jack I would re-introduce myself. One time (on a good day for him), he put his arm around me and said, "It's so nice of you to introduce yourself. Who were you when I knew you?" That still just blows me away.

Ali said...

Kudos to you, Susan! That is fantastic! And I will never catch onto the notion of e-books. Never. I love having actual books in my hands, and I love being able to mark them up. In addition, I worry about the idea that writers will feel the need to quickly grasp a reader's attention. I don't think that bodes well for any of us. We need to be able to stick with narratives and not expect immediate rewards. Some of the most wonderful books I have read (by Tolstoy, Dostoevksy, and Eliot) are longer narratives that take a while to capture the reader's attention. But I suspect I am in the minority. On Christmas I was with some friends, and I mentioned "Victorian values," and no one knew what I was talking about. And we had college-educated people with us. It kind of made me sad. I guess I am a relic from the past!