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Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women

Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women

5.0 1
by Marcia Aldrich (Editor), John Griswold (Editor), Eula Biss (Contribution by), Barrie Jean Borich (Contribution by), Joy Castro (Contribution by)

Waveform celebrates the role of women essayists in contemporary literature. Historically, women have been instrumental in moving the essay to center stage, and Waveform continues this rich tradition, further expanding the dynamic genre’s boundaries and testing its edges. With thirty essays by thirty distinguished and diverse women writers, this


Waveform celebrates the role of women essayists in contemporary literature. Historically, women have been instrumental in moving the essay to center stage, and Waveform continues this rich tradition, further expanding the dynamic genre’s boundaries and testing its edges. With thirty essays by thirty distinguished and diverse women writers, this carefully constructed anthology incorporates works ranging from the traditional to the experimental.

Waveform champions the diversity of women’s approaches to the structure ofthe essay—today a site of invention and innovation, with experiments in collage, fragments, segmentation, braids, triptychs, and diptychs. Focused on these explorations of form, Waveform is not wed to a fixed theme or even to women’s experiences per se. It is not driven by subject matter but highlights the writers’ interaction with all manner of subject and circumstance through style, voice, tone, and structure.

This anthology presents some of the women who are shaping the essay today, mapping an ever-changing landscape. It is designed to place essays recently written by women such as Roxane Gay, Cheryl Strayed, Margo Jefferson, Jaquira Diaz, and Eula Biss into the hands of those who have been waiting patiently for something they could equally claim as their own.

Contributors: Marcia Aldrich, Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Chelsea Biondolillo, Eula Biss, Barrie Jean Borich, Joy Castro, Meghan Daum, Jaquira Díaz, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Patricia Foster, Roxane Gay, Leslie Jamison, Margo Jefferson, Sonja Livingston, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Brenda Miller, Michele Morano, Kyoko Mori, Bich Minh Nguyen, Adriana Paramo, Jericho Parms, Torrey Peters, Kristen Radtke, Wendy Rawlings, Cheryl Strayed, Dana Tommasino, Sarah Valentine, Neela Vaswani, Nicole Walker, Amy Wright

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Aldrich (Girl Rearing: Memoir of a Girlhood Gone Astray) compiles this collection of 30 essays by women, with highlights from Cheryl Strayed, Leslie Jamison, Roxane Gay, and Eula Biss. The works largely explore an evocative, corporeal landscape (break-ups, eating disorders, sex, racism, self-mutilation, drug addiction, domestic violence, rape, foster care, and childbirth) with occasional forays into academic territory (there are pieces on the work of Joan Didion, Vladimir Nabokov, William Shakespeare, and Susan Sontag, among others). In her preface, Aldrich praises “the diversity of women’s approaches to the structure of the essay.” Not all of the markedly inventive approaches are successful—overcommitment to theme or experiment causes some of the essays to stumble—but Strayed’s ability to unleash witty compassion is unflagging, as is the quality of Biss’s prose, which is so intelligent and generous that it both nettles and soothes. A few contributors struggle with their discussions of identity politics, writing with overeager verbosity. Half of the essays are original to the collection. The writing varies wildly from piece to piece, but there is plenty that stands out as wise, beautiful, and unforgettable. (Dec.)
Booklist - Joan Curbow
This collection offers something for every reader, whether one seeks the calm of a contemplative voice or the catharsis of anger. Lengths of essays vary widely, too: one writer offers a terse yet poetic recollection of childhood, horror, and love in the space of a page and a half. Another writer unravels a lengthy and wide-ranging exploration of pain and women’s relationship to it. It’s all here, just as it should be: birth, death, sex, longing, regret, anger, love.
Bust Magazine - Gila Lyons
For hundreds of years only men had access to the printing press, education, and platform. So while women and people of color and gender non-conforming writers catch up, a space to thrive, flourish, and gain airtime is essential. Woolf demanded for women a room of our own. Now we have a book of our own.
New Books Network - Eric LeMay
Back in 2013, in The New York Times, essayist Christy Wampole declared that we are in a moment of 'the essayification of everything.' . . . The essay invites complexity, contradiction, nuance–all of those qualities that mark the real experience of our public and private lives. Essays want to reckon with the rich immensity that is in us and is us. . . . I encourage you to check out a new collection of essays edited by Marcia Aldrich. Its entitled Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women and includes many of the best essayists in America. In essays by Cheryl Strayed, Roxanne Gay, Dana Tommasino, and Aldrich herself, the essay achieves its fullest potential as Wampole described it in 2013.
author of Breathless: An American Girl in Paris - Nancy K. Miller
Rich in unexpected detail, these essays refresh our sense of how women map the world. Readers join writers on journeys of self-discovery that disconcert as well as reward.
author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives - Leigh Gilmore
An essay collection that—at long last!—doesn’t say, 'Next time we’ll include more . . . more women, writers of color, trans writers, more less well-known writers, too,' but instead announces, 'Here they are.' Including essays by best-selling authors, critical favorites, and newcomers alike, Marcia Aldrich has done more than sample the bounty of brilliant women’s essays. Through Waveform, she stakes a claim for the significance of the essay in contemporary literature by focusing on women’s fusion of a singular voice, personal experience, and formal innovation. Waveform should come with a warning label, though: these essays are so compelling you’ll be tempted to read heedlessly and breathlessly through the collection. But beware. This work is potent. Each essay delivers the blow of the wave as it breaks, exposing the hungry wave rider to the churn and danger beneath the swells. A herald of a new field, fully realized, and a triumphant display of its power.
Kirkus Reviews
Essays by 30 contemporary women writers whose work has helped remake the nonfiction literary landscape.In this collection, Aldrich (English/Michigan State Univ.; Companion to an Untold Story, 2012, etc.) shows how women writers have transformed the essay into a "shape-shifting thing…[that] can do many turns, take on any subject and assume any structure demanded by the writer's aims and the requirements of the materials she wields." Toward that end, the editor has selected pieces from bestselling nonfiction writers like Cheryl Strayed and Leslie Jamison as well as work by lesser-known, but no less talented, individuals such as cultural anthropologist/women's rights advocate Adriana Paramo and San Francisco chef Dana Tommasino. The essays are mostly personal in content. What distinguishes each is the manner in which the writer manipulates form to tell her story. In the opening essay, "Tiny Beautiful Things," Strayed writes a brief second-person account—in the guise of Rumpus advice columnist Sugar—to her 20-something self about the small things (like concerns about her weight) that she should have ignored and the small things (an imperfect gift from a soon-to-be-dead mother) that she should have honored. In "This is How I Spell My Body," Paramo considers her various body parts—from ass to zygomatic bone—in light of her relationship to men. Tommasino merges the language of fact and poetry into a fluid, lyric whole in "birdbreath, twin, synonym," her chronologically fragmented meditation on the twin ex-convict brother from whom she has grown apart. "In Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain," Jamison considers the topic of female pain by examining the various forms of self- and other-inflicted wounds that both famous and ordinary people have experienced. Aldrich's collection not only rides the "new wave" in nonfiction essay writing with bravura, intelligence, and sensitivity. It also reveals the depth and vastness of the contemporary female literary ocean that produced it. Other contributors include Meghan Daum, Roxane Gay, Eula Biss, and Margo Jefferson. Eclectic and always engaging.

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University of Georgia Press
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6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Marcia Aldrich is a professor of English at Michigan State University. She is the author of Girl Rearing: Memoir of a Girlhood Gone Astray and Companion to an Untold Story (Georgia), winner of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is the former editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.

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Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this collection from Netgalley, editor Marcia Aldrich, and University of Georgia Press. Thank you all, for sharing your hard work with me. This collection of short stories is a fast read that will have your quiet time filled with the thought of new perspectives. There was not a story in here that did not require time to absorb and bend your brain around. I was very impressed, and found a couple of new authors to add to my list of must reads. Thank you!