Hello, friends. We began our week with Ashley Taylor’s lovely essay about community, her neighborhood music parties, and growing up.
Today is Fiction Friday, and we have a wonderful new short story by Arielle Robbins: “From the Abuse Survivor’s Notebook”
Make sure you read authors Danielle Dutton ( Margaret the First ) and Gavin McCrea ( Mrs. Engels ) in conversation about historical fiction:
Conceived spatially, the “historical” in fiction would not be a question of when something is happening; instead it would be a question of where it is happening: Where is history impinging upon my body? Where in space am I experiencing history? Where does my history end and the history of my family, community, or nation begin? Because all fiction asks these questions in some way or another, this would put all fiction into the category “historical.”
Of course, the other thing to do would be to erase the category altogether.
“From the comfort of my apartment in Toronto, the idea of flying into Putin’s Russia on a tourist visa with a fake hotel reservation and my soccer gear hadn’t seemed utterly daft. Now, I wasn’t so sure.”
A hibernating museum, a house on fire, a mugging, and the world’s largest diamond mine: Follow Patrick Findler’s travels in North Siberia.
Jené Gutierrez on learning to make menudo from her abuela, and what this traditional dish means to her and her family.
A beautiful essay by Elizabeth Fairfield Stokes on pregnancy, the spirit world, and the line between life and death:
It wasn’t the first dead body I’d seen. It was the first one since I’d become pregnant, though, and it was the first sudden, violent death I’d ever witnessed. As a child growing up in a rural village in Alaska, I’d known how to be around death. You could not live on the edge of the Arctic Circle and not feel how intertwined death is with life. But I’d forgotten, separated as I had been for decades from the place I call home. On the verge of bringing a new life into the world and feeling far away from the life I’d known in Alaska, I lingered, hesitating, on the threshold between worlds: the living, the about-to-be-born, and the newly dead.
Angela Chen is now writing a column for us on science, numbers, and assorted nerdery, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. Read her on the fear of risk, the difficulty of decision-making (especially in relationships), a Freakonomics experiment, and two memorable coin tosses.
“We can start by marveling at these crowds appearing in our midst”: Adam Fleming Petty on the power of crowds and the current political moment.
Last but not least, I talked with editor and forever fave Carrie Frye about her time at The Awl , freelance editing, and how she digs in and helps writers shape and share their most important stories:
. . . when I think back on it, it was like I was sitting backstage at a fantastic theater as some sort of costume manager-person, and the writers were streaming by me on their way to the stage and it was my job to duck around and make sure everyone was looking their best before they went out there. It was frantic and exhilarating and really, really great. Sometimes—and you know this from your time at The Toast and now at Catapult—all a writer needs from you is the editorial equivalent of a re-tuck of the shirt. And other times they go by you, and it’s like, “Whoops, that’s an amazing outfit, dearie, but the kilt doesn’t go on your head!” So you get the kilt where it’s supposed to be and send ’em out.