Jo Ann Beard

“The Milky Way is a long smear in the sky, like something erased on a chalkboard.”

Beard, Jo Ann. “The Fourth State of Matter.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 19. Print.

“We used to call her the face of love.”

Beard, Jo Ann. “The Fourth State of Matter.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 19. Print.

Harrison Fletcher / Symbolism

“Outside my bedroom window, vines curl up the chain-link fence. Knotted. Twisted. Tight as my chest.”

Fletcher, Harrison. “Wreath.” Descanso for My Father. Kearney: University of Nebraska, 2012. 144-147. Ebscohost.com. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

“Alone in my room with my wood-burning iron set on high, I etch the round candle-flame face of a wild sunflower. For my mother, a blossom that will not fade.”

Fletcher, Harrison. “Wreath.” Descanso for My Father. Kearney: University of Nebraska, 2012. 144-147. Ebscohost.com. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

Cheryl Strayed

We act as if all losses are equal. It is un-American to behave otherwise: we live in a democracy of sorrow. Every emotion felt is validated and judged to be as true as any other.

Strayed, Cheryl. “The Love of My Life.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 503. Print.

But this isn’t fiction. Sometimes a story is not about anything except what it is about.

Strayed, Cheryl. “The Love of My Life.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 513. Print.

“Whatever narcissism, fetishism, and proud sense of masculinity I possess about my body must begin and end with my fingers.” 

Lopate, Phillip. “Portrait of My Body.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Comp. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 307. Print.

“The news version was that it had been an unhappy adolescent love thing, a shipboard romance gone bad, etc. I think part of it was something else, something there’s no way a real news story would cover.” 

Wallace, David Foster. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” New York: Little Bucnntind Company, 1997. 261. Print.

Wallace

“A red and orange parasail hangs dead still on the port horizon, a stick-figure dangling.”

Wallace, David Foster. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” New York: Little Bucnntind Company, 1997. 312. Print.

“There is something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that’s unbearably sad. Like most unbearably sad things, it seems incredibly elusive and complex in its causes and simple in its effect: on board the Nadir- especially at night, when all the ship’s structured fun and reassurances and gaiety-noise ceased- I felt despair. The word’s overused and banalafied now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. For me it’s a simple admixture- a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear of death. It’s maybe close to what people call dread or angst. But it’s not these things, quite. It’s more like wanting to die in order to escape the unbearable feeling of becoming aware that I’m small and weak and selfish and going without any doubt at all to die. It’s wanting to jump overboard.”

Wallace, David Foster. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” New York: Little Bucnntind Company, 1997. 261. Print.

Making it All Mean Something

“If ‘meat’ is taken to mean the atrocities of life, it is true that familiar essay has something obstinately nonapocalyptic about it” (135-6).

(Lopate, Phillip.  “What Happened to the Personal Essay?”  Essayists on the Essay.  Ed. Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2012. 17. Print.)

“I had never before understood what ‘despair’ meant, and I am not sure that I understand it now, but I understood that year” (688).

(Didion, Joan. “Goodbye to All That.” The Art of the Personal Essay. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books, 1995. 688. Print.)

Tangled Drugstore Smell

“Jung says somewhere that we pay dearly over many years to learn about ourselves what a stranger can see at a glance.  This is the way I feel about my back.”

Lopate, Phillip. “Portrait of My Body.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present.  Comp. Lex Williford and Michael Martone.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 303. Print.

 

“Mr. Jaffe, the salesman from McKesson &Robbins, arrives, trailing two mists: winter steaminess and the animal fog of his cigar, which melts into the coffee smell, the tarpaper smell, the eerie honeyed tangled drugstore smell.”

Ozick, Cynthia.  “A Drugstore in the Winter.” The New York Times Book Review. 1984. 492. Print.

 

“Sometimes I can feel my mouth arching downward in an ironic smile, which, at it’s best, reassures others that we need not take everything so seriously – because we are all in the same comedy together – and, at its worst, expresses a superior skepticism.”

Lopate, Phillip. “Portrait of My Body.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Comp. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 300. Print.

“I want people to look at my head, partly because I live in my head most of the time.”

Lopate, Phillip. “Portrait of My Body.” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. Comp. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 299. Print.

Wallace & Mairs

“A vacation is a respite from unpleasantness, and since consciousness of death and decay are unpleasant, it may seem weird that Americans’ ultimate fantasy vacation involves being plunked down in an enormous primordial engine of death and decay.”

Wallace, David Foster. “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” New York: Little Bucnntind Company, 1997. 263. Print.

 

“Society is no readier to accept crippledness than to accept death, war, sex, or wrinkles.”

Mairs, Nancy. “On Being Crippled” Plaintext. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1986. 10. Print.

Lopate

“The mental image of one’s body changes slower than one’s body”

Lopate, Philip. “Portrait of my Body” Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. Ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone. New York: Touchstone. 2007. 301. Print.

“Maybe what has collapsed is the very fiction of ‘the educated reader,’ whom the old essayists seemed to be addressing in their conversational remarks.”

Lopate, Philip. “What Happened to the Personal Essay?” Essayists on the Essay. Ed. Carl H. Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. 2012. 136. Print.