Jane Eaton Hamilton

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

Tag: On Pandering

Marissa Korbel: “The Thread: Down Girl”

 

Marissa Korbel wrote her essay “Down Girl” to address a bad review by Alexandra Fuller of three female-authored memoirs received in the New York Times: Pam Houston’s ‘Deep Creek;’ Reema Zaman’s ‘I Am Yours, A Shared Memoir;’ and Sophia Shalmiyev’s ‘Mother Winter, A Memoir,’ and, more broadly, to discuss pandering and misogyny in literature.

“[The reviewer] basically called their books therapy,” one of my dinnermates summarizes. By which she means: the writers were doing something for themselves more than for the readers, writing to save themselves rather than to demonstrate that experience on the page as literature, as art, worthy of praise, writing that could be construed as private, emotional work, journaling of some sort, embarrassingly displayed for the world, a tumble of private details which do not—in the reviewer’s opinion—rise to literature

“Three women’s memoirs criticized for oversharing? I’m sure I’ve read this review before, and yet all three books are brand new. I’ve read two out of three of them, and I’ll take home Houston’s Deep Creek tonight. I take out my phone and search “NYT review Zaman.” Because Reema Zaman, a Portland-based writer, performer, and friend, is one of the reviewed.”

The Thread: Down Girl

On Poverty and Class in Literature

Alison Stine, writing at the Kenyon Review, wrote the necessary essay “On Poverty” partially in response to classism in Claire Vaye Watkins’ essay “On Pandering.”

“We are poor because we were born that way. We are poor because our husbands or girlfriends left us, or our families disowned us, or our partners abused us. We are poor because we are raising children and children need things, like food. We are poor because of illness or disability. We are poor because the city where we live is expensive, but we don’t have the savings to leave. We are poor because we spent those savings on rent. We are poor because our rent was raised. We are poor because our fifteen-year-old car broke down again. We are poor because of student loans. We are poor because there are no jobs, or there are not enough jobs, or we’re working three jobs, but none pay a living wage.

We are not poor out of lack of hard work. We are not poor because we “want it less.” We stay poor because of institutionalized sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and classism.

We stay poor because doors stay closed.” -Alison Stine

To her essay I would add:

Being able to have a job, even at McDonalds, is a luxury beyond many of our disabled writers who are on provincial or federal disability, cannot work, and whose low incomes are, consequently, not only meagre but fixed and unable to ride them through any unexpected storms.

On Poverty

 

100 times yes re: “On Pandering” by Claire Vaye Watkins

JEHthedoor

photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton, Paris, 2014

Tune in to Tin House to read this exceptional essay by short story writer Claire Vaye Watkins on writing towards the big boys.

Tin House

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