In Defense of the Nonfiction Confessional
June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
Amy Monticello explores the nonfiction confessional form, BECOMING A NEW parent, and why it is wrong to perform certainty “around massively complicated life stuff” in a fascinating Essay Daily blog entry this week. She cites a Brevity essay as an example. See the excerpt below, and further down, find the link and read her complete essay:
Though the hours together were long, my attention span was short. The combination of exhaustion and adrenaline made it difficult to concentrate on anything longer than a page or two. In addition to the circuit of parenting sites I visited daily (the rabbit hole of BabyCenter must be circled cautiously), I began reading my daughter back issues of Brevity, with its maximum 750-word essays. This is how, somewhere in my second or third week of parenting, I worked my way back to Issue 39, and J.D. Shraffenberger’s “Dropping Babies“.
The title alone almost made me skip it. My postpartum hormones had already sworn off Animal Planet (polar bear cubs starving in the Arctic, cheetahs picking off baby impala in the East African plains), Children’s Hospital commercials, and Jezebel, which, for some feminist reason, seems to report on every grisly infant death in America. Fears that something would happen to my daughter (or to me, or my husband, leaving her without a mother or father) were already keeping me up at night, my two selves—parent and writer, one horrified to imagine, the other compelled to imagine—locked in battle for my thoughts.
But I was too intrigued, and so began to read aloud Schraffenberger’s braided meditation on babies dropped or dangled from the heights. Yes, literal heights.