E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

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.

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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.

WHAT I READ:

THE GENRE BREAKDOWN:

  • 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.

THE DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN:

  • 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

THE REASON-FOR-READING BREAKDOWN:

  • 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

E.B.’s READING RESOLUTIONS for 2018:

  • 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.

Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book 2018!

Have you ever been stranded at sea and thought, Man, I could really use an up-to-date tide chart and would also like to read some flash nonfiction about a dead sea turtle?

Well, lucky you! My short nonfiction piece “Vulnerable” is the winner of this year’s Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book story contest, and you can read it on page 192 of the 2018 edition of the Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book

Thank you to Jenny White Kuliesis, Peter Kuliesis, Robert Eldridge White, Jr., and everyone at Eldridge for publishing me! I am honored to be included in such an important nautical text with an incredible, long history.

You can buy your copy of the 2018 Eldridge Tide & Pilot Book on Amazon, at West Marine, or at any one of these local tackle shops, boat marinas, and independent bookstores. They even sell copies at Pirate’s Cove Marine on Fishers Island!

 

 

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Daisy Hernández

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on October 18, 2017.

Daisy Hernández is the author of A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir and coeditor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. The former editor of ColorLines magazine, she has written for The Atlantic, The New York Timesand NPR’s All Things Considered and CodeSwitch, and her essays have appeared in the Bellingham Review, Fourth Genre, Gulf Coast, Hunger Mountain, The Rumpus, and TricycleShe is an Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at Miami University in Ohio.

Reminder about upcoming classes at GrubStreet!

In the next few weeks I am teaching four different one-day classes at GrubStreet––two for teens, two for adults, and three are 100% completely FREE, including the Brown Bag session which is A WEEK FROM TODAY!

Check out the course descriptions below, and let me know if you have any questions. Sign up now!

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FREE Brown Bag Lunch Writing Series
Wednesday, October 18, 12:30pm-1:15pm

  • Open to all writers.
  • ***100% COMPLETELY FREE!*** 
  • No registration necessary!

Do you work downtown and want to fit some writing into your day? Or do you have a schedule that gives you free afternoons instead of evenings? Join our FREE Brown Bag Lunch Writing Series.

Bring your lunch and come on over to GrubStreet on Wednesday, October 18th from 12:30pm – 1:15pm. For 45 minutes, you’ll meet fellow writers and get your creative juices flowing with some cool writing exercises. Led by one of our award-winning instructors or ambassadors.

Best of all, you’ll leave lunch with some new ideas to ponder for the rest of your day and beyond. No need to RSVP — just come!

*Be sure to arrive early, as space is limited!

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Young Adult Writers Program: Playwriting for Drama Queens and Kings
Saturday, October 21, 12pm-4pm

  • Open to writers aged 13-18 years old.
  • ***100% COMPLETELY FREE!*** 
  • Includes free pizza for lunch!

Has someone ever told you to stop being so dramatic? If so, disregard that advice and come take Drama Queens and Kings! Through acting and improv games, you will generate material to create the beginnings of your own play and figure out what it takes to make drama exciting, interesting, and, well, dramatic. In addition to theatre exercises, you will work off writing prompts to help inspire engaging dialogue and read excerpts from great playwrights, both contemporary and classic. By the end of the class, you will have one or more scenes that you will be able expand into a play. Writing notebooks will be available, but feel free to bring your own. For writers age 13 – 18 ONLY.

Join GrubStreet’s Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP), a FREE creative writing workshop for Boston-area high schoolers. Our students come from a wide variety of high schools in the Boston area and enjoy cool writing exercises, mingling with fellow young writers, snacks, and an optional open mic. After four great years, YAWP has already been recognized by the Boston Globe as Boston’s hub for writing teenagers. You must be 13-18 years to register.

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Writing About Family
Saturday, November 11, 10am-5pm

  • 6-hour seminar.
  • Open to all writers.
  • Scholarships available!

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 over the course of our six-hour session. In this one-day class, we will read excerpts from many nonfiction writers who have braved the topic of their families and attempt several writing prompts in response to the reading. This course will be a mix of a discussion-based seminar and a generative writing session, so students can leave the class with the beginnings of several pieces about their families. 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.

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Young Adult Writers Program: Writing Inspired by Found Objects
Saturday, November 18, 12pm-4pm

  • Open to writers aged 13-18 years old.
  • ***100% COMPLETELY FREE!*** 
  • Includes free pizza for lunch!

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. Using Miss Peregrine as our model, 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 will even take a trip to the antiques store next to GrubStreet for inspiration! This course will also explore the relationship between images and words, looking at examples such as Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck and Tom Phillips’s A Humument. A great course for those who are visual artists in addition to writers. Writing notebooks will be available, but feel free to bring your own. For writers age 13 – 18 ONLY.

Join GrubStreet’s Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP), a FREE creative writing workshop for Boston-area high schoolers. Our students come from a wide variety of high schools in the Boston area and enjoy cool writing exercises, mingling with fellow young writers, snacks, and an optional open mic. After four great years, YAWP has already been recognized by the Boston Globe as Boston’s hub for writing teenagers. You must be 13-18 years to register.

AllisonandAJontheAT

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

E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

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