E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Category: Nonfiction Mafia

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!

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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.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Dessa

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

Photo credit: Matthew Levine

Dessa is a singer, rapper, writer, and proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She is the author of My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, which was published by Dutton Books in September 2018. Dessa’s writing has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Minnesota Monthly, several literary journals, and has been broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. She has also published two short collections of poetry and essays. Dessa splits her time between Minneapolis, Manhattan, and tour vans across the country.

“‘Good and Mad’ Helped Me Understand The Woman Who Makes Me Angriest” on Electric Lit!

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on October 24, 2018.

I am proud to have another piece up on Electric Literature today, but especially this essay because EVERYONE should read Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. Not only is the book inspiring, it also helped me figure out some of my issues with my grandmother.

A big thank you to Jess Zimmerman, for publishing me again, and to Jaime Green, for all her editorial support/feedback/encouragement on this essay!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Hope Ewing

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

Photo credit: Tuan Lee

Hope Ewing is the author of Movers and Shakers: Women Making Waves in Spirits, Beer and Wine, published by Unnamed Press on October 9, 2018. She has worked as a grant writer, a letter writer, a story writer, a memo writer, a screenwriter, a copy writer, and a food and drink writer. Ewing received her MFA from Columbia University, where she worked as the Web Editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. She likes hard cheese, soft eggs, gamey wine, California vermouth, and agave in any form. Ewing currently lives in Los Angeles.

“Sy Montgomery Wants Us to Embrace Our Inner Animal” on The Millions!

For the full piece, see it on The Millions.
Published on September 18, 2018.

I am really excited to have this essay up today on The Millions because I am absolutely obsessed with Sy Montgomery’s new memoir. Her book, How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, comes out on September 25th, and everyone should buy it, read it, and follow its advice. (Don’t worry, there will be plenty of copies available at Newtonville Books, where How to Be a Good Creature also happens to be my most recent staff pick!)

 

AllisonandAJontheAT

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

E.B. Bartels

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a collection of sorts