E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Category: Authors

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mira Jacob

Shout out and major THANK YOU to Erin Greene who made this interview possible thanks to her CITYterm connections!

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on May 14, 2019.

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and long-listed for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. Her writing and drawings have appeared in The New York TimesElectric LiteratureTin HouseLiterary HubGuernicaVogue, the Telegraph, and Buzzfeed, and she has a drawn column on Shondaland. She currently teaches at The New School, and she is a founding faculty member of the MFA Program at Randolph College. She is the co-founder of Pete’s Reading Series in Brooklyn, where she spent 13 years bringing literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry to Williamsburg. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, documentary filmmaker Jed Rothstein, and their son.

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“How I Stopped Being Afraid of My Own Brain” on Electric Lit

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on May 8, 2019.

My grandmother, Genevieve Beckers Bartels.

Writing nonfiction is always personal, in my opinion. You are putting your thoughts, feelings, and point of view out there, even if you are hiding behind the safety of research or criticism. This essay that I published today on Electric Literature is, at its core, a book review, but it is also the most personal thing I have published to date.

Thank you for reading it, and for your thoughtfulness and your care with this subject matter. A special thank you to my editor, Jess Zimmerman, who helped me so much with shaping this piece and clarifying my ideas, and, of course, thank you to my dad who helped me with this essay, and with so many other things, more than he realizes.

But if you only take one thing away from this piece, it better be that you need to go out and buy and read Marin Sardy‘s book The Edge of Every Day ASAP!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Grace Talusan

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on April 16, 2019.

Grace Talusan is author of the memoir The Body Papers, winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction. She was born in the Philippines and came to the United States with her parents at age two. She has published essays, long form journalism, fiction, and book reviews in BrevityCreative NonfictionBoston MagazineThe Boston GlobeThe Rumpus, and many others. She has degrees in English from Tufts University and the University of California, Irvine. Her writing has been supported by the Fulbright, Hedgebrook, Ragdale, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and others. She teaches writing at Tufts University and GrubStreet, and in fall 2019, will be the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Maya Rao

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on March 26, 2019.

Maya Rao is a journalist and the author of Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks, and the Making of an Oil Frontier (PublicAffairs, April 2018). In addition, she is a staff writer at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Rao’s work has appeared in The AtlanticAwlPhiladelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle, and Longreadsamong others. You can follow her on Twitter at @Mrao_Strib.

GOOD GRIEF!

It’s official!!!

On January 30, I sold my book Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! My editor is the wonderful Naomi Gibbs, known for editing many incredible books, including some of my favorites from the past couple years: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee, Tango Lessons: A Memoir by Meghan Flaherty, and After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search by Sarah Perry. A publication date is not set yet (likely sometime in 2021) but the one thing I know for certain now is I have to turn in a complete draft of the book by the end of January 2020. HERE WE GO!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Alanna Okun, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate your *~*love*~* of nonfiction today with the second Non-Fiction by Non-Men interview of 2019! This one also features one of my former GrubStreet students, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Alanna Okun! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on February 14, 2019.

Alanna Okun is a writer, editor, and crafter living in New York. She is currently a deputy editor at Vox, and she has previously worked at Racked and Buzzfeed. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesBrooklyn MagazineApartment TherapyThe Billfold, NPR, Vogue Knitting, The Hairpin, and other places. She has appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America, as well as other local and national television and radio shows. Okun’s first book, The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater, was published by Flatiron Books in March 2018.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Electric LiteratureBustleEntropyand more.

Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Crystal M. Fleming

In case you missed it, I am back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor. Check out my first piece since taking over the series: an interview with Dr. Crystal M. Fleming, Wellesley ’04 and author of How To Be Less Stupid About Race.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:

Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The RootBlack Agenda ReportVoxand Everyday Feminism, among others, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author ofResurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, which was published by Temple University Press in 2017, and How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, which was published this past fall by Beacon Press. Dr. Fleming is also writing a children’s book Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against Racism, to be published by Henry Holt in fall 2020.

Wellesley Underground Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Anand, and Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes It Series Editor, E.B. Bartels, had the opportunity to speak with Crystal about her new book, her evolving education around race and racism at Wellesley and Harvard, and her thoughts on the state of race and racism in the U.S., France, and the world.

Crystal: Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my book and to feature it on Wellesley Underground.

Shelly: We saw people talking about it on Twitter and both E.B. and I had a chance to read it over the holidays.

Crystal: Thank you for reading it!

E.B.: Of course! I am always excited to read a book by a fellow Wellesley alum.

Shelly: We were both interested in hearing about your process for how this book came about and when you realized that you wanted to write it. How did you make this book become a reality? What sparked the idea of I need to write a book about how people need to be less stupid about race?

Crystal: The short version is after the 2016 election I was feeling a lot of things: disbelief, despair, and anger, but also really motivated to write a book for the general public. My first book, Resurrecting Slavery, was an academic book, which was based on my dissertation. That came out in 2017. And while I was really happy with that professional milestone, I didn’t want to restrict my writing to a small group of academic specialists. So, I wanted to write something for a broader audience but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. Then, finally, the idea for How to Be Less Stupid About Race crystallized in the aftermath of the 2016 election. As you can tell from the title, it was really about me being fed up with a lot of the racial ignorance I saw across the political spectrum. After I came up with the title and the pitch, I found a literary agent (Michael Bourret of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret), wrote a chapter that spring, and then really completed the bulk of the writing between summer 2017 and early 2018.

Shelly: E.B. and I loved the book’s blend of your personal experiences, pop cultural references, and citations to academic works in sociology and critical race theory. How did you find the balance in what voice to use, as both an academic and a younger black woman on social media?

Crystal: That’s a good question.  I would say that blogging and social media really helped me bring together the academic topics with language that could, hopefully, reach more people. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to write clearly about my scholarly work and interests on social media, where millions of people have read my writing over the years. I wanted to write beyond an academic context so my blog was a space for me to reactivate my creative writing and to share some of my thinking in public and that was very different from strictly academic manuscripts. Once I started writing on my blog, and then eventually on Twitter, I developed a new way of distilling and explaining really complex ideas.

The great thing with social media is that people will tell you what they think about what you are writing. Sometimes folks will ask you: “What do you mean by that?” That helps with that distilling and clarifying. I started getting feedback from people and what I found was that a lot of people understood what I was saying, which was pretty reassuring.

Academics usually don’t receive any special training for writing in an accessible manner, so it took me a long time to develop that skill and find my own voice.  I really wish graduate schools and doctoral programs included more opportunities to learn to write clearly so that academics can broaden our teaching and impact, but instead we typically learn to write with a lot of jargon.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

P.S. If you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Fleming and you live in the Boston area, be sure to come to her talk at Framingham State University at 4:30pm on Monday, February 4, 2019! I will be there!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Maggie Nelson, interviewed by Annie Dade

Happy new year! The first Non-Fiction by Non-Men interview of 2019 is a very special one indeed: it features my former GrubStreet student, Annie Dade, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with the great Maggie Nelson! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on January 9, 2019.

Maggie Nelson is a highly acclaimed poet, art critic, nonfiction writer, and professor. She is the author of several books including The Red Parts: Autobiography of a TrialJane: A MurderBluets, and The Argonauts. Her work has received much recognition including the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Argonauts in 2016 and most recently she received the MacArthur Fellowship. She currently teaches at USC in the English department.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Annie Dade. Annie is a Boston-based admirer of nonfiction, blended memoirs, and storytelling as a tool for social change. As both a student and a teacher, she has found deep appreciation for the craft in conversation with other writers whether they are third grade poets or college professors. She is grateful to speak with one of her favorite writers in this interview.

2018 Reading Round-Up

Happy first day of 2019, everyone! You know what that means: time for my annual reading tally for the past year. So, as is tradition, here is the breakdown of what I read in 2018, my top 18 books that were published 2018, plus some of my reading resolutions for 2019.

Thanks for the graphics and stats, GoodReads. Shocking that no one else has read “My Pet Died” by Rachel Biale.

 

WHAT I READ:

THE GENRE BREAKDOWN:

  • Fiction: 19
  • Nonfiction: 43
  • Graphic novels/comics: 9
  • Graphic memoirs/nonfiction: 7
  • Poetry: 15
  • Drama: 1
  • Young adult/middle grade: 6
  • Picture books: 37*
  • Books that I had already previously read: 6**

*Most of these were for research. I swear.

**Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood, Black Mass by Dick Lehr & Gerard O’Neill, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

THE DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN:

  • Books by women of color: 39
  • Books by white women: 50
  • Books by men of color: 14
  • Books by white men: 26
  • Books by non-binary people of color: 1
  • Books by non-binary white people: 1
  • Books by LGBTQ folks: ~26

THE REASON-FOR-READING BREAKDOWN:

  • Books for research purposes: 30
  • Books by Non-Fiction by Non-Men authors: 14
  • Books for the Nobles English curriculum: 9
  • Books for my true crime book club: 10
  • Books for fun/other reasons/just for the hell of it: 74

E.B.’s TOP 18 BOOKS PUBLISHED in 2018:

I am really glad that I am doing this tradition of my top [xx] books published in 20[xx] because it means I get to add one more book to my list each year. HOWEVER: narrowing my list of books read this year down to only 18 was still brutal, so please appreciate the pain I went through to bring you this blog post. Now, without further ado, my top 18 books published in 2018, organized alphabetically by author’s last name.

  1. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (October 23, 2018)
  2. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee (April 17, 2018)
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (October 2, 2018)
  4. How To Sit by Tyrese Coleman (September 1, 2018)
  5. My Own Devices by Dessa (September 8, 2018)
  6. Freshwater by Awaeke Emezi (February 13, 2018)
  7. Movers and Shakers by Hope Ewing (October 9, 2018)
  8. Tango Lessons by Meghan Flaherty (June 19, 2018)
  9. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins (January 30, 2018)
  10. Sick by Porochista Khakpour (June 5, 2018)
  11. If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim (August 7, 2018)
  12. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (February 27, 2018)
  13. How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery (September 25, 2018)
  14. Open Mic Night in Moscow by Audrey Murray (July 24, 2018)
  15. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (February 6, 2018)
  16. There There by Tommy Orange (June 5, 2018)
  17. Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister (October 2, 2018)
  18. My Dead Parents by Anya Yurchyshyn (March 27, 2018)

E.B.’s READING RESOLUTIONS for 2018:

  • I want to continue reading more and more books by people of color, and my goal for 2019 is to read a majority books by people of color. (This year, of 137 books, 80 were by white people and 57 were by people of color.)
  • I also want to keep reading more and more books by nonbinary people and LGBTQ folks. This year I read work by two nonbinary individuals and 20% of the authors I read were LGBTQ, which is okay, I guess, but could definitely be better.
  • I want to make sure my true crime book club reads more diverse writers as well! (So many white people love to write about true crime.)
  • Like last year, I need to keep paying attention to who is writing the books I am reading for research and diversify the voices I am quoting in my own writing.
  • And, as always, I want to continue to remind myself that if I don’t love something I am reading… I don’t have to finish it!!!! This is a reminder for you, too!

Here’s to more amazing books in 2019!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Tyrese Coleman

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on December 10, 2018.

Tyrese Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, and lawyer. She is the author of How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays, published by Mason Jar Press in fall 2018. Coleman is the reviews editor for SmokeLong Quarterly, an online journal of flash fiction, and an instructor at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. Her work has appeared in Literary Hub, Washingtonian Magazine, The Rumpus, Upstreet Literary Magazine, Buzzfeed, Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. She received her masters in writing from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland in College Park. A member of the Maryland State Bar, she received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore. Coleman lives in the Washington D.C. metro area, but grew up in Ashland, Virginia and is a country girl at heart.

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a collection of sorts