One of the authors who attended Aspen Summer Words this year was Meghan Daum. She’s written a book of essays, a novel, a memoir, has a second book of essays coming out in November, writes a column for the Los Angelas Times, plus, she is amazingly cute:
I mean, holy cow– did you ever see a woman with a cuter smile??
Meghan Daum is a bit older now, and doesn’t look quite the same as she does in this author pic (which I think was taken of her in her early 30s; Meghan was 40 years old in 2010, which makes her 44 now– 10 years older than me)– but she’s still as irreverent and funny as she was when this photo was taken.
Seriously though– what a cutie! That smile just makes me want to giggle with its cuteness!
One of the women I met at Aspen Summer Words, a memoirist named Annette, told me that Meghan Daum got her “big break” when an article she wrote titled “Life on the Loaf: Two Weeks at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference” was published in The New York Times on June 11, 1995.
For those of you who might not know what Bread Loaf is: it’s one of the most prestigious writers conferences in existence. Bread Loaf is held at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, every year in mid-August. This conference began in 1926, and the initial “impulse to establish” the “Conferences on Writing” came from Robert Frost. (As quoted on their webpage.)
I started trying to look up Daum’s “Life on the Loaf” article the day Annette mentioned it to me, but it’s impossible to read online. I ended up having to make an ILL request (Interlibrary Loan request) for a copy of the article to be sent to the Durango Public Library for me.
So I’m really excited to get my hands on it.
In searching for the article, I came across this interview in New York Times Magazine (published April 25, 2010), titled “The Art of the Confession,” in which Curtis Sittenfeld (who I love!! She wrote Prep, omg, I love that book)– anyway, Curtis Sittenfeld interviews Meghan Daum (who was 40 at the time) and Emily Gould (who was 28 at the time). The interview is subtitled: “Meghan Daum and Emily Gould on the ups and downs of writing their minds.”
Here’s the pic of these two leading ladies:
Meghan Daum and Emily Gould have gotten themselves into hot water by exposing their lives to the public– especially Emily. She received “considerable flak for a May 2008 New York Times Magazine cover story about her trial by fire as a writer for Gawker.” (That story was headlined “Blog-Post Confidential” and you can read it here.) If you take the time to read that article, you’ll experience the horror (and total addictiveness) of blogging for a huge audience, as Emily details her downward spiral as a blogger for Gawker.
I knew nothing about Gawker (or any of this controversy) before I came across this New York Times Magazine interview with Curtis Sittenfeld. As Emily explains in her story, Gawker Media is “a network of highly trafficked blogs” that also serves as “a clearinghouse for any random tidbit of information about being young and ambitious in New York.”
People used Gawker to track down celebrities (because celebrity sightings were reported all the time) and Gawker caused a lot of grief to famous people who felt like their privacy was being violated.
Honestly, the idea of a site like Gawker makes me a little queasy. I can’t imagine spending my time addicted to a website where people blog about trivial things in their lives nonstop, stalk celebrities, and crave constant attention. I just couldn’t live like that.
Maybe Facebook is like that (with its addictiveness and constant attention)– but I don’t spend much time on Facebook. I check my wall once a day (er, that’s the goal, anyway), and try to add a post on my personal page once a day (or every two days), and add a post on my author page every few days– but my Facebook wall is not something I read constantly. I didn’t even start Facebooking until September 2013– and was motivated to do so because I e-published my second novel, and someone messaged me about the book.
So I started Facebooking then, because it was a way for readers to find me.
Then I set up this webpage (actually, my friend Adriana’s husband, Paul Arbogast, set it up for me), and I psyched myself up to start blogging– and after reading Emily’s horror story of blogging-gone-wrong, I must say, I’m glad I don’t have to live Emily Gould’s life. All that public scrutiny just seems crazy to me.
I definitely share personal information on my blog– (since my favorite author blogs are my favorites for this reason– the authors tell me about their lives, and I love that)– but I couldn’t get to the level of Emily’s blogging– where she was blogging relationship information in a play-by-play format (falling in love, breaking up, etc, etc), almost instantly after each incident happened. Reading “Blog-Post Confidential” made me inwardly cringe, and feel immensely grateful I wasn’t the one being sucked into the Blogosphere vortex.
I’m still reading Andre Dubus III’s Dirty Love this week, and I’m rereading Melissa Bank’s collection of short stories, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. It’s been 10 years since I read this book. It’s so incredibly good. Especially the first story, “Advanced Beginners,” which is completely phenomenal. It’s like reading the story “Alma” in Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her— another story that is simply exquisite. Perfection.
I was 23 or 24 the first time I read Girls’ Guide. I’d never been to Nantucket (which I wasn’t able to visit until 2007), probably didn’t know where St. Croix was (though my friend Stacy has lived there now for a few years, and keeps telling me to come visit)– in short, there was a lot of stuff in the book that was over my head the first time I read it. WAY over my head. But I remember how much I loved reading the book. How much I recognized, even in my cluelessness, the incredible power of Melissa Bank’s prose.
I have not read her follow-up, The Wonder Spot, yet. I probably will, at some point, either this summer, or after I finish Mark of the Pterren.
But I’ll be reading the memoir Orange Is the New Black very soon. That’s totally up next in my queue.
Oh, and if I forgot to mention this on my blog– Kate Atkinson’s novel Life After Life is AMAZING. So is the nonfiction book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, by Jennifer Senior. Holy jeez. GREAT books. Contenders for my Top Ten list at the end of the year, for sure.