E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Writing From Found Objects class at GrubStreet!

Have you been stuck in a creative rut? Are you looking for a low commitment but super fun writing class? Have no plans for this Friday, March 23rd, from 10:30am-1:30pm? Perfect! Sign up for my class Writing From Found Objects at GrubStreet! This one-time, three-hour session is guaranteed to get you back into a writing flow. Plus, you get to look through my collection of old photographs from Russian flea markets. What more could you want?!

Here’s the course description:

Have you ever found an old photograph at a flea market and wondered: who are these people, and what is their story? That’s how Ransom Riggs wrote Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, structuring the plotline entirely around found photographs. Have you ever looked at a page of an old book and thought: is there is a poem in here somewhere? That’s how Tom Phillip’s created A Humument, making beautiful paintings and found poems out of each page of an unknown Victorian novel he stumbled on one day. Using these two texts as our models, this course will be all about looking for inspiration for your writing in the objects that surround you, creating narratives out of things that already exist. We will look at an array of items––old photographs, video footage, antique maps, even junk and trash––and find the stories and poems hidden within. You’re welcome to bring in your own items, but objects will be provided––you just need to find their story. We may even take a trip to the antiques store next to GrubStreet for inspiration! This course will also explore the relationship between images and words, which makes it a great course for those who are visual artists in addition to writers. This will be a generative class, and hopefully you will leave the session feeling inspired and with the beginnings of several new pieces of work!

Sign up here!


Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Ali Barthwell

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on March 19, 2018.


Ali Barthwell is a writer, comedian, teacher, Chicagoland native, and an alumna of Wellesley College. She was a recipient of the Puma/LOL Second City Diversity Scholarships in 2010. Barthwell also participated in The Bob Curry Fellowship at The Second City, and she was a member of The Second City touring company from February 2015 to August 2016. Barthwell is an instructor at The Second City, and she performs with the improv group Sweet Tease. She writes recaps for Vulture, and her other written work can be seen in New York Magazinethe Chicago Tribune, The A.V. Club, and Second City Network. Ali is a former staff writer at Cards Against Humanity. She tweets about lipstick and Black Panther at @wtflanksteak.

Columbia Selects at KGB Bar

Are you in New York and looking for an activity this Thursday night?

I’ve got you covered:

Columbia Selects: MFA Readings at the KGB Bar

Thursday, March 1, 2018, 7pm, 85 E 4th Street, New York, NY 10003

Curated by Bryan VanDyke and Emily Austin.

What is Columbia Selects? The first Thursday of each month the Columbia MFA program hosts a reading series featuring Writing Program alumni. These fresh talents are finished with or near to finished with their first books, but do not yet have a book contract and/or an agent. In recent years, many of our featured writers have achieved critical and commercial success. This is your chance to glimpse who you’ll be reading in 2019!

Our lineup this month:

Umair Kazi‘s translations of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz have appeared in Circumference: Poetry in TranslationPleiades, and Inventory. His interview with the author Mohsin Hamid was published in Guernica. He has a JD from the University of Iowa College of Law, and an MFA from the Columbia University School of the Arts. He’s currently working on a novel about the kidnapping and captivity of his auto-fictional protagonist by the literary deep state, and a collection of short stories about people who are terrified of bridges. He grew up in Karachi and Iowa and now lives in New York.

E.B. Bartels is from Massachusetts and writes nonfiction. She received her MFA from Columbia University, and her nonfiction has appeared in The RumpusThe ToastThe ButterPloughshares online, and the anthology The Places We’ve Been: Field Reports from Travelers Under 35, among others. Her essay “Hair Piece” was a nonfiction honorable mention in the New Millennium Writings 36th Competition, and her short nonfiction piece “Vulnerable” was the winner of the 2018 Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book Story Contest. E.B. also writes a monthly series, called Non-Fiction by Non-Men, for the site Fiction Advocate, where she interviews women who write nonfiction. E.B. is currently working on a narrative nonfiction book about the unusual and creative ways that people mourn and remember their pets around the globe, investigating everything from mummification to taxidermy to cloning to animal fur sweaters to pet cemeteries. Learn more about E.B. at ebbartels.com.

Arielle Angel is a Miami-born, Brooklyn-based writer. She has been awarded residencies at Hub-Bub, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Brush Creek Foundation, Jentel, and Abode Farm. She was also a 2016 Tent Creative Writing Fellow at The Yiddish Book Center. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in GuernicaOff AssignmentProtocolsPoor Claudia, and Jewish Currents.


Come for the talent. Stay for the camaraderie and cocktails.


Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Edwidge Danticat

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on February 14, 2018.
(Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Edwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection, Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously, and Claire of the Sea Light. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir and Haiti Noir 2. She has written six books for children and young adults—Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama’s Nightingale, Untwineas well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur fellow. Her most recent book, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Storywas published by Graywolf Press in July 2017.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mandy Len Catron

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on January 15, 2018.

Mandy Len Catron is the author of How To Fall In Love With Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. Originally from Appalachian Virginia, Catron now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesThe Washington PostGlamour, The Rumpus, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. Her essay for the New York Times Modern Love series (“To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This”) was one of the most popular articles published by the New York Times in 2015. Catron writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project, and she teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. You can follow Catron on Twitter (@LenMandy), and on Instagram (@LenMandy) to see her drawings and photos of her dog, Roscoe.

There’s still time to sign up for Writing About Family!

Are you totally bummed because you think you missed your window to sign up for my Writing About Family class at GrubStreet? Well, don’t be! There is still time to enroll. The class now starts January 24 and runs through March 28: 10:30am-1:30pm on Wednesdays for ten weeks. 

Also, to clarify: the definition of “family” in this course is extremely broad. We will be looking at examples from writers who define family in all kinds of ways — from biological to adopted to chosen, from parents to children to friends, from human to non-human. This course will be helpful for anyone attempting to write nonfiction about people (or animals) they love or hate, but, for better or for worse, are bound to by some familial-feeling kind of force.

Sign up now!


2017 Reading Round-Up

Happy new year, devoted blog readers! While 2017 was a total disaster in a lot of ways, it was, at least for me, a great year for books. Here’s the breakdown of what I read this past year, my top 17 books that were published 2017, plus some of my reading resolutions for 2018.



  • Fiction: 11
  • Nonfiction: 29
  • Graphic novels/comics: 5
  • Graphic memoirs: 9
  • Poetry: 8
  • Drama: 2
  • Young adult/middle grade: 6
  • Picture books: 40*

*Most of these were for research purposes. There are a lot of kids’ books out there about how to cope with pet death, FYI.


  • Books by women of color: 22
  • Books by white women: 56
  • Books by men of color: 4
  • Books by white men: 28
  • Books by LGBTQ folks: 18


  • Books for research purposes: 52
  • Books for the Nobles 9th grade English curriculum: 4
  • Books for fun: 54

E.B.’s TOP 17 BOOKS PUBLISHED in 2017:

I would just like to say that a lot of really great books were published in 2017. Narrowing it down to 17 was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. This list could have easily been twice as long, but “34 books published in 2017” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. But, ugh! Making choices is so hard! Sigh. Anyway, let me present to you, my top 17 books published in 2017, in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

  1. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
  2. How To Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron
  3. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
  4. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
  5. Hunger by Roxane Gay
  6. Fetch by Nicole J. Georges
  7. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
  8. Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  9. Alfie (The Turtle that Disappeared) by Thyra Heder
  10. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
  11. One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
  12. Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo
  13. Yawn: Adventures in Boredom by Mary Mann
  14. A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise by Paula Merlán
  15. Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello
  16. A Girl Walks into a Book by Miranda K. Pennington
  17. After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry


  • I need to pay more attention to who is writing the books I am reading for research and try to diversify the voices I am quoting in my own writing. (Turns out there are a lot of white ladies who like to write picture books about pets dying.)
  • I need to continue to read more books by people of color and LGBTQ folks. (Especially men of color. That 2017 statistic was shameful.)
  • I didn’t tally the exact numbers, but I know that most of the books I read this year were by American writers (Scaachi Koul was one of the most “exotic” as she is, gasp, Canadian) and I want to try to read more work by international authors.
  • And I want to continue to remind myself that if I don’t love something I am reading… I don’t have to finish it. I’m going to die before I get to read everything on my To Read list on GoodReads, so, live it up. Life is short. Read what you want to be reading.

Here’s to a 2018 full of even more great books!


Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Michelle Kuo

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on December 13, 2017.

Michelle Kuo was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan to immigrants from Taiwan. After graduating with a degree in Social Studies and Gender Studies from Harvard College, she joined Teach for America and moved to the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Kuo’s memoirReading with Patrick, is about her time teaching in Helena and, later, returning to the Delta to help one of her students after he is imprisoned for murder. Kuo teaches in the History, Law, and Society program at the American University of Paris on issues related to race, punishment, immigration, and the law. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the LA Review of Books, Poets & Writers magazine, and Literary Hub, among others. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kuokuomich.

Write about holiday family drama with me at GrubStreet!

Give yourself a present this holiday season and sign up to take my winter GrubStreet multi-week course: Writing About Family! You know you want to. You are going to have so many family stories to write about by the time December is over. Work through that holiday family tension with nonfiction! The timing is ideal.

The class begins on January 10, 2018 and runs through March 14, 2018, meeting from 10:30am-1:30pm for ten Wednesdays.

Here’s the course description:

As a nonfiction writer, you often pull material from your own life, and that means you may end up writing about the people closest to you: your family. But this brings up some tough questions: How is it possible to create a well-rounded portrait of someone you don’t want to upset? How can you ever get past the thought: what will my grandmother think when she reads this? In addition, when writing about family members who have passed or about intimate family history, how can you avoid falling into the trap of nostalgia and sentimentality? These are exactly the questions that we will tackle. In this ten-week course, you will write several short pieces, including a profile of someone near and dear to you, as well as a retelling of a family story that happened before your time. Through discussion of published works, craft lectures, and workshops, we will delve deeper into the elements of nonfiction that can elevate a personal piece of writing. You will leave the class with several short works based on your family history that you can continue to develop into polished personal essays or memoir pieces. Readings may include excerpts by Mary Karr, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alison Bechdel, Margo Jefferson, Tobias Wolff, Phillip Roth, David Sedaris, Janet Mock, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Did you know that we have scholarships available for all GrubStreet classes? To apply, click the “APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP” button in the top right corner of this page. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your scholarship application and await our Scholarship Committee’s decision before registering for the class. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Sarah Perry

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on November 20, 2017.

Sarah Perry is the author of After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search, a memoir about her mother Crystal’s murder when Perry was twelve and the subsequent over-a-decade-long investigation. Perry holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Columbia University, where she served as publisher of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art and was a member of the journal’s nonfiction editorial board. She is the recipient of a Writers’ Fellowship from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and a Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, and has attended residencies at Norton Island in Maine and PLAYA in Oregon. Perry’s prose has appeared in Blood & Thunder magazine, Bluestockings Literary JournalElle.com, and The Guardian. She lives in Brooklyn and should not be confused with the British author Sarah Perry.


Together hiking the Appalachian Trail from April to October, 2015!

E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Mara Wilson Writes Stuff

Just another WordPress.com site

The Ugly Volvo

Attempts at Adulthood


Nonfiction mafia.

T is for

Nonfiction mafia.

Pedals to Petals

Nonfiction mafia.

Wellesley Underground

Nonfiction mafia.


Nonfiction mafia.

Soundtracks for Books

Nonfiction mafia.

Arrested Misérables

Nonfiction mafia.

i don't like fun

a collection of sorts