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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
14

Throwback: Yellow Wallpaper

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It's a funny thing, Twitter. I'm one of the worst users ever, as I don't have a smart phone, am hardly ever logged in, tweet rarely, and feel sort of silly in this "you have no followers" stage which I really see no end to. But, I digress. Because the reason I brought up Twitter was to mention how amazing it is to be connected (even if only on a one side basis) to pretty much anyone you wish to be. Publishers, agents, celebrities, authors. Why just yesterday I came across a tweet by Joyce Carol Oates (Joyce Carol Oates, people!) and immediately added her to the list of people I follow. To sum up, I now follow Joyce Carol Oates. She says something, I see it. Talk about an impressive vehicle of connection.

But the reason I was struck by this particular tweet of Joyce's was her mentioning the short story "Yellow Wallpaper." Former English students of the world, do you remember this story? I sure do. In fact, there might be nothing that could have more instantly brought me back to my days as a university student. Short stories were my first love. Spending semester after semester reading Kate Chopin, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner (remember "A Rose for Emily"?), and of course Charlotte Perkins Gilman made me want to do nothing with my life except write equally intriguing fiction.

Poetry blew me in another direction, and now I've jumped ship completely in the name of non-fiction, but I guess what I want to know is what happened to the short story? Is it still around, stronger than ever, and I simply haven't been paying attention? Are there still stunners like "The Lottery" being written? The last contemporary story I read and truly loved was published in an issue of The Georgia Review over ten years ago, so it's probably time I got back into it. I have JCO to thank for reminding me. Or maybe it's Twitter to whom I owe this gratitude. Either way, I'll mention it when I get around to logging back in. Maybe this weekend.

FEB
27

Remembering The Misfit

I was thinking yesterday about a quote I heard years ago about how good writing should make you feel like your head has been cut off. I think I heard it while in college, and at the time it resonated with the part of me that enjoys being moved, even uncomfortably so, by the written word. I was reading Flannery O'Connor back then and can remember feeling this very way when reading "A Good Man is Hard To Find." The moment I realized what was about to happen was eye-popping. I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. Oh. My. Gosh. Filled with a desperate panic, much like the Grandmother herself, I felt like I'd been through something once I finished reading. I was affected. And I couldn't shake it.

This wasn't the first time I'd felt that way, and I can remember several other works before and since that have been, shall we say, literary game-changers. Maybe not in the classic sense of the word, but at least in terms of the way I felt while reading them. It's Jonas learning to see the color red, it's Katniss in the games, and all the other things in stories that you can't believe are happening. Because no one has ever written a situation quite like it. I suppose that's the reason I can't wrap my mind around writing fiction. I'm not sure what I could add to the party that would create this new, awe-inspiring sense of having been figuratively beheaded. Not that this means I won't ever come up with one, but for now, I'll stick to what I know. And let you keep your heads.