How Abigail Thomas Creates Narrative Tension

Sierra Skye Gemma:

The Building Blocks of Good Memoir

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:

A guest craft essay by Paul Zakrzewski on narrative drive in the segmented memoir:

3a36f29138705bc7d15156308c033669Recently, I found myself re-reading Abigail Thomas’s Safekeeping, a fabulous memoir-in-fragments about marriage and motherhood. And once again, I’m struck by a contradiction at the heart of the book:

How does the author create such narrative drive, such a fully realized portrait of a life, in a memoir whose form would appear to undercut these achievements?

Even if you don’t know Abigail Thomas’s memoir, it’s likely — especially if you’ve gotten an MFA in the past – you’ve heard it name-check. It’s one of those more experimental books, like Joan Wickersham’s The Suicide Index, which make the rounds in CNF courses. You know, the ones advisers push on you during conferences. The ones your classmates urge you to read in their manuscript margin notes.

The book is comprised of dozens of short sections—some four or…

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Alphabet Soup Interview

Alphabet Soup on CiTR

Hey Everybody, It’s been a long and wild and weird summer, but I wanted to finally post my first radio interview for your listening “pleasure.” Laura Trethewey and Matthew Walsh interviewed me on CiTR 101.9 FM‘s Alphabet Soup radio show … Continue reading

Introducing Sierra Skye Gemma as Swoon’s new co-curator and lover of literature!

Sierra Skye Gemma:

Exciting news!

Originally posted on Swoon:

Swoon Lovers Ruth & Sierra

Sierra Skye Gemma joins Ruth Daniell to create the new core team for Swoon: A Reading Series on Love & Desire!

The amazing and talented two-time novelist Jeffrey Ricker, co-host for Swoon: Spring 2014, has had to return to his life and love in St. Louis, Missouri, and Vancouver will miss him. Especially Swoon. Especially me. But I am thrilled to let you know that while Jeffrey can’t host Swoon in person anymore, he’s agreed to continue doing some long-distance work for Swoon in the form of his wonderful graphic design. Thank you, Jeffrey, for all that you have done and continue to do for Swoon. It’s clearly a labour of love.

Taking up the co-host reins is the wonderful Sierra Skye Gemma! For those of you who were at Swoon: Spring 2014,  you’ll remember Sierra for her hilarious and moving nonfiction essay about teaching sex…

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Make me Swoon!

I’m excited to announce that I will be reading at an upcoming event called Swoon: A Reading Series on Love & Desire. The event will be held on April 4th at Cocoa Nymph, 3739 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver, and hosted by the dashing novelist Jeffrey Ricker and the lovely poet Ruth Daniell!

If that wasn’t enough to make you swoon, check out the rest of the line-up: Joelle Barron, Taylor Basso, Nicole Boyce, Sugar le Fae, Garth Martens, Rachel Sawatzky, and Jennifer Zilm!

Can you feel the love? I can!

Swoon