Electric Literature

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How to Sell a Bra in Five Minutes or Less

“Daughter of Retail” by Sari Rosenblatt Retail works like this: Someone walks in the door and she’s yours. You may not fall in love, but you have to put her body before yours. You must see whatever it is she wants to show you; smell her smell; satisfy her. You must sell yourself before you sell the suit. I was twelve when I started working...

20 Small Press Books from 2020 You Might Have Missed

There’s no denying that this is a rough—if not catastrophic—year for many businesses, from mom-and-pop-run local eateries to huge corporations like Macy’s. But as the Washington Post noted, a national array of bookstores and readerly good-will has helped Bookshop.org raise millions for indie book businesses. Luckily for us, this means that the indie...

Courtney Maum Thinks the 27th Draft Is Where It Gets Good

In our series “Can Writing Be Taught?” we partner with Catapult to ask their course instructors all our burning questions about the process of teaching writing. This month we’re talking to Courtney Maum, who is leading an independent study on landing yourself a book contract—all the detailed, comprehensive information she includes in her book Before...

Why Are We Learning About White America’s Historical Atrocities from TV?

Black Americans have one hell of a story. It’s a horror story. The 400-year-long exile of Africans in America started with slavery and shifted to slavery-in-all-but-name under private prisons. Meanwhile, blacks have been subjected to a genocide that over the centuries has never relented, only changed in regards to the tools used to kill us. The...

7 Books About the Making and Unmaking of Women Politicians

One of my primary goals in writing Impersonation was to examine the many personae that we adopt in our lives, both in private and public, both in our relationships and in our work. When we encounter others for the first time, what assumptions do we make, and how does this guide our interactions with them? Impersonation is the story of...

The Ugliest Babies in the World

The way we’ve been told, my girl cousins and I were born with broken faces. “You know ah–,” my grandma says, “–all your mothers were so beautiful, skin no pores hor, and fair like Princess Hang Li Po. But then every single one of you popped out with the ugliest faces we had ever seen.” Her little bungalow sweats, as though in anticipation....

A Mother and Son Scam Their Way Into the American Dream

Maxima in the dark. Half-lit by a Virgin Mary night-light and the glow of a screen saver, a slow-motion sweep of stars and planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Earth. Dressed in denim cutoffs and a Mickey Mouse tee, she doesn’t shiver, despite her wide-open bedroom window and the cold night beyond. She sits at the foot of her bed, cleaning her nails with the tip...

How Playing “Myst” Taught Me to Write Fiction

In the 1990s I was a lonely, nerdy girl writer. Nobody else I knew was simultaneously obsessed with learning HTML and parsing the sentences of F. Scott Fitzgerald. This meant I spent a lot of time alone, curled in my chair reading—but I spent nearly as many hours clicking and tapping on my mother’s beige, boxy computer, playing computer games. I liked...

8 Books About Hexing the Patriarchy

First, a few key terms. Patriarchy is not, at the end of the day, defined by the gender of one’s leaders. It’s a societal model based on the rigid binaries and hierarchies necessary to divide, conquer, and control—e.g., men over women, men over nature, straight and cis over queer and trans, rich over poor, and, often, white over Black and Brown. Magic...

Where Is Hong Kong Literature When We Need It Most?

One of my most vivid childhood memories took place in an English bookshop in Causeway Bay, a short minibus ride from my family home in Hong Kong. I was a voracious reader growing up, eyes constantly trained on any printed text available, even during dinnertime and when brushing my teeth. Intent on nourishing this interest, my mother took me to the children’s...

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