Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: abuse

Best American Essays 2016 notable essay

When good comes out of bad… That makes a notable in Best American Short Stories, a notable in Best American Essays, and inclusion in the Journey Prize, Best Canadian Stories and Best Canadian Poetry. Joyce Carol Oates has chosen BAE 2016 as her recommended winter book. I’m with her. The Best American series is my go-to for new essays, poems and stories no matter what year it is. And if I’m seeking Canadian work, Best Canadian.

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Hey, abusers…

It was nothing, you say. I wasn’t planning to hurt you.

You just overreacted.

You’re just so pretty, I had to.

The things you do provoke me.

Seriously, abuser. You actually think that I know what your limits are?

One thing is heartily clear about abuse: the abuser, not the victim, determines its end-point. It’s called control for a reason.

 

How do I know that when you ask me if I’m 18 yet that it’s because you don’t want it to be statutory?

How do I know that you, cat-calling, won’t be the one jerk that follows me?

How do I know that when I wave the offer of a drink away, you won’t follow me to my car?

How do I know when you rub up against me at work that you won’t deny me a future promotion?

How do I know that when you beat up the furniture, my face is not next?

How do I know that the bruises on my arms won’t be on my throat the next time?

How do I know that when you rush towards me, fist raised, you know you aren’t going to slug me?

How do I know when you throw that knife and slur “I want to kill you” that you actually won’t?

How am I supposed to guess I’ll actually survive you?

 

You think I’m a fucking mind-reader? Buddy, I’m not. And that, my friend, is why you’re fucking terrifying.

 

If you are trying to understand abuse, I recommend this book highly, whether your abuser is a man, a woman or someone on the continuum: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft

 

 

George Saunders on story

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sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton uncertain date: 2011?

Here, from The Atlantic, is George Saunders talking about how to write a good story. I love George Saunders’ heart. Sometimes, the Semplica-Girl Diaries, a story of his that IV-dripped into me, swirls in my brain.

After listening to this video, now I will hear this:

“…what you try and do with the person you love. You come back to them again and again and try to intuit their real expansiveness and you try to keep them close to you and give them the benefit of the doubt.” I have never heard this expressed quite this way before and I hope George Saunders wouldn’t mind if I say that this is why women stay with battering spouses.

This, indeed, is why I stayed with her. I continued to try to intuit her real expansiveness. It was this expansiveness under her crabbed expression of rage that bound, fascinated, compelled and tugged me closer.

It’s discontent and generosity that builds story. May I always remember this.

George Saunders

Here’s another interview from Triquarterly:

An Interview with George Saunders

“We just got our submissions for our grad program [at Syracuse] and we got 600 this year for 6 spots. And I read 165 of those. And it’s so interesting. Everybody has a beautiful life. And everybody has an intense childhood. And everybody has, I think, some ability to be moved by literature. But then you see 165 people stepping forward to try to make that magic on their own, and it’s not a given. You can be a really smart, really well read, really well intentioned person, but somehow the thing you’re writing doesn’t come alive. Every year we do this, I’m kind of stunned by how many people are writing and also how well, and also how few of those people really get into the zone of speaking to me or speaking to another human being at the heart level. It’s kind of a mysterious thing. It’s kind of terrifying.”

Full Grown Batterers

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Jane Eaton Hamilton sketch 2014

Of all the topics I’ve had at my fingertips, perhaps none has been as difficult for me to write personally about as being battered over 18 years.  I remain highly embarrassed that I went through this; I ought to hand in my feminist credentials and have them retroactively scrubbed.  I ought to hand in my lezzie activisit credentials while I’m at it.

Yes, I’m a feminist.  Yes, I’m an activist.  Yes, I was battered.  Yes, I stayed.

Yes, I accepted a certain base-line of violence into my marriage and would have gone on staying the rest of my life.  That’s the dumb truth of it.  I adored her; I would have stayed with her forever.

Never Say I Didn’t Bring You Flowers

 

 

Felicitous Life and Karrie Higgins

JEHblackpaper7sketch by Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

There’s a group on FB called Binders.  If I hadn’t joined Binders, I wouldn’t have had my essay Things That Didn’t Happen come out on Manifest Station.  If it hadn’t come out there, I wouldn’t have seen that Karrie Higgins’ brilliant essay Strange Flowers had come out there, too.  You should read it.  You shouldn’t go another day in your life without reading it or knowing that Karrie Higgins is writing some of the best prose seen today.

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