A house of haunted links for Halloween!
Hi hi, friends,
In last week’s letter I put out a call for your favorite old haunted links—the old essays, stories, stray pieces & internet bookmarks you find yourself returning to again and again. The responses were generous and great, with links that ran the gamut from funny and light to instructional to “this is the writing I turn to when everything turns dark.” Some links were new to me, some like old pals.
Thanks so much to those who contributed, and happy clicking, exploring, and Halloween to all!
THE HAUNTED ROOM OF EMOTIONS, THOUGHTS, & BEWILDERMENT
Jess Zimmerman’s “Where’s My Cut?” (2015) haunts me still. Emotional labor may be a more prominent part of our cultural discourse in the U.S., but we’re not much better at navigating it.
I recently read the early works of Silvia Federici, whom I didn’t realize Jess quotes in this piece until I revisited it minutes ago. Federici’s works from the 1970s read, for the most part, like radical contemporary works, which is both admirable and frightening.
— Amanda M.
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Mine would have to be this one: “How To Be Single” by Briallen Hopper. Middle-distance gazing 4-ever!
— Mary M.
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Now and again I revisit “Bewilderment” by Fanny Howe via the Arizona State University website. I like that this essay is Out There, posted from the desert. Sometimes knowledge, the will to know pulls too hard on my wings. “Bewilderment” cures.
— Elaine B.
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Here are two links that I’ve remembered and searched for again a few times since I first saw them. Even better, they are both fundamentally hopeful, to me anyway. I like to think that the good, deep, rich important things can endure and spread.
• From the Harvard Library: A visualization of the rise of modern publishing across Europe after the invention of the printing press.
• Marina Abramović’s meeting with Ulay during her “The Artist Is Present” exhibit at MOMA. [Ed. note: I cried. Again.]
— Kristen T.
THE ROOM OF FASCINATING WEIRD COOL STUFF (JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN SEZ “BOO!”)
“The Itch” is from The New Yorker in 2008, and I bet I won’t be the only one to send it, because it is absolutely haunting and all I can think about when my head gets itchy. Plus, Atul Gawande is dreamy.
— Liz W.
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Here are the pieces that I have most bookmarked, hyperlinked, and emailed over the years:
• “Brag, Build, Banana” by Wendy Molyneaux (Rumpus 2011). The world frequently seems full of nonsense and the best antidote I can find to the rampant greed, self-promotion, and frequently terrible writing on offer is this piece of absurdity, the spirit of which dismantles every stupid thing ever said, without making much sense itself at all.
• “Never Give Your Kid A Cold Shower” by Drew Magary (Deadspin 2013). I read this before I was ever a parent, and keep coming back to it—idk, you feel for all the people in it, and it’s hard to write about parenting without littering the thing with notes on the ethics of what you’re writing.
Honorable mention: “Hey Mickey You Blow My Mind” by John Jeremiah Sullivan (NYT 2011). Largely for all subplots involving “Lil’Dog,” the author’s friends’ kid, “a tiny, sandy-haired, muscular guy, with a goofy, lolling grin, who’s always about twice as heavy when you pick him up as you thought he was going to be.” This is a piece I constantly email to writers in service of How To Write Better. It’s the kind of piece that will flash by my eyes right before I die, I expect.
— Janet M.
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Ye olde links! First thing I thought of was this one on pretending to be sick on the internet. I’ve recommended it to so many people. [It’s by Cienna Madrid, and was published in the Stranger.]
One I circle back to every few years – John Jeremiah Sullivan on Axl.
And I used to re-read the Fanlore story on MsScribe all the time, but the originals (and even the back ups) seem to be lost to web rot. There’s a LJ link up, though.
All of these are about infamy and subterfuge, I guess, with side doses of wtfery.
Then there’s the ’pin on figureskating. [Ed. note: This one’s by Kathy Hovencamp and Sarah Marshall. While we’re talking ’pin and figure skating, I’ll throw in this one from Nicole Chung on Kristi Yamaguchi.]
— Margaret H.
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One article on the old internet that I adored as a teenage fanfiction author and return to every few years is this one: “Too Good to Be True: 150 years of Mary Sue.” As a teenager I thought it was AMAZING that anyone would take fanfiction seriously enough to write about it—now I think it’s amazing that a piece of scholarly writing could be so dishy and fun, and rich.
— Sarah M. [Same Sarah M. who in the link above is talking figure skating at the ’Pin. <3.]
THE ROOM WITH INSPIRATION FOR SOUP, BIG CLEANING PURGES, AND HOW TO WRITE
As far as old links, I have so, so, so many (literally an entire bookmarks folder titled “to read and reread”), so I hope you don’t mind if I recommend a themed pair. Whenever I need to do a big clean or a big purge or even actually move apartments, there is something superbly soothing about reading both Edith Zimmerman’s “Edith Zimmerman is Throwing Everything Out” and Logan Sachon’s “Cleaning Day”; both are, coincidentally I think, from September 2013.
— Aimee P.
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• About three times a year I google “maud newton tomato soup” because that’s easier than just writing down her take on the Moosewood soup. It’s sooooo good.
• And it moves around a lot but I periodically dig by Rick Bathelme’s “The 39 Steps” for writing and it brings me joy.
— Kate M.
AND THE ROOM OF SHORT & FUNNY, ODD & WONDERFUL CANDY PELLETS
I saw both of these things for the first time in college dorm rooms, which probably goes a ways to explain why they made me laugh so hard that I could not breathe—I was almost certainly very high. Both things (the cards and the cat dance) are basically extremely specific jokes that someone took a great deal of time and energy to carry out. They remind me of an internet that seemed personal and homespun and weird. It was often my experience growing up as an older millennial (’83) to identify with Gen X culture and then be deeply disappointed that by the time I was old enough to cut my hair into bangs or wear baby-doll dresses and flannel or drift ambitionlessly through my 20s the rest of culture had moved on to more polished ways of being. I feel similarly about the internet, and am now ready for my blog.
— Joanna P.
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THIS [“It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” by Colin Nissan]. I reread it all the time and send it to people still and it is still funny to me. (Also seasonally appropriate.)
— Sara Q.
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This [“My DJ” by Brian Bieber] is from 2004. It has its strengths and weaknesses but the deadpan lines cheer me up every time: “My DJ encourages the doctor to throw his hands up, but the doctor declines.”
— Gavin G.
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A few from the wayback machine:
• Megan Daum’s “My Misspent Youth” from 1999. (I have endlessly quoted that last line)
— Amy G. [Ed. note: I’m going to throw onto Amy’s funny pile this old Shouts & Murmurs from Simon Rich about a condom that’s ten times as sweet and funny as it has any right to be.)
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I am still thinking about the winter boyfriend by Edith Zimmerman from the Hairpin. It’s even vaguely seasonal—gotta get your own Jib to sleep on a pallet of hay ASAP.
— Kate D.
HOCUS POCUS IS COMING!
I’m sending the letter early this week so you’d have it for Halloween. It’ll be back the Friday after this one—and in that one I’ll be sharing some info on Hocus Pocus, the new online circle for women writers that I’ll be starting up in January 2019 (!).
wishing you visits from only the friendliest ghosts,