From our new house, we can hear the weekly “air horn orchestra” protests of HB2 at the North Carolina governor’s mansion. We join in spirit–it’s too loud for Bea’s young ears. Walking home from getting ice cream on Friday, we came across a Black Lives Matter protest at Moore Square, and listened to the solemn reading of too many names. Each week, at a poetry workshop my grad students host with homeless and at-risk teens and young adults, a group made up mostly of young black men, we hear about the risks to life and liberty they must think about all the time.
I don’t know what to do except to offer some readings that been meaningful to me this summer:
Nicole Dennis-Benn on the privilege of innocence.
“Social Skills Training” by Solmaz Sharif.
Jelani Cobb on the historical echoes of NC’s “bathroom bill”
Barry Yeoman on “The 30 Years That Brought Us HB2″
Garth Greenwell’s exquisitely painful What Belongs to You
Brian Blanchfield’s brilliant Proxies: Essays Near Knowing
Aimee Nezhukhumatathil’s hopeful, magical Lucky Fish
Natalia Ginzburg’s The Little Virtues, with its wonderful anti-capitalist parenting advice and writing about Italy, “a country willing to submit itself to the worst governments,” where she lived under Fascist rule. (Go here to register to vote/update registration.)
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, a new NEA Big Reads selection.
(image above: pages from Citizen. List on left sadly much longer in new printings.)
I’m so happy to share my new website, belleboggs.com. Richard designed and coded the whole site from scratch! I think he’s the most multi-talented person I know.
I’m delighted by how the site turned out, and for the chance to show off blurbs from three of my favorite writers–Eula Biss (!), Leslie Jamison (!), and Andrew Solomon (!). Belleboggs.com will include a feed from this blog, which I’ll keep, and it also has a “Resources” page which lists some of the infertility, adoption, and “plan B” family building resources I mention in The Art of Waiting. (I am also happy to post additional links–please email me or reply to this post.)
(Above: Richard and Bea at the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference this June)
Exciting to see The Art of Waiting listed as a top ten pick for fall in Publishers Weekly’s memoirs and biographies category. I was especially happy to be on the list with Mike Scalise, whose excellently-titled memoir The Brand New Catastrophe is coming soon from Sarabande. I met Mike at Bread Loaf a few years ago and still remember being captivated by the funny/serious excerpt he read there. His book came to press in an interesting way, a little like Mattaponi Queen–through a contest. Mike won the Center for Fiction’s Christopher Doheny Award, which “recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness, either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend.” Here’s hoping that Mike will come to North Carolina for an event early next year.
Speaking of events, I’m working with Graywolf to plan my fall book tour and have plans (so far) to go to Atlanta, Chicago (with Eula Biss!), D.C., Minneapolis, and Austin. Hoping to add Boston and New York to the list. More soon!
(Above: Bea is very into the idea driving these days, and often asks me, when we get into the car, “Can I drive?”)
I have two new pieces out this week.
The first is an essay I wrote for Lithub about what Tillie Olsen called the “triple life” of working, parenting, and writing, and the need for better childcare options. Click here if you’d like to read it.
The second is an article about abortion restrictions that went into effect this year in North Carolina. It looks particularly at their impact on one young mother who had to wait an entire week, in excruciating physical pain, to have an abortion. It was published in Slate; find it here.
Thanks for reading! I really do intend to publish the new website soon.
(Photo above by Tom Rankin, who took it at a writers’ gathering Jill McCorkle organized this spring in protest of North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature.)
An early, starred review from Kirkus:
“This deeply empathetic book is about more than one woman’s challenge; it’s about the whole scope of maternal urges, of how culture (and literature) treat the childless (or “childfree”), how biases against medical intervention serve to stigmatize those who need such expensive (and not always successful) assistance, and how complicated can be the decisions about whether to adopt rather than continuing to attempt to conceive, the moral dimensions of international adoption (and surrogates), the additional hurdles facing gay couples, and the seemingly arbitrary differences between states as to what procedures are covered and to what financial limit. . . . Boggs writes with considerable heart and engagement about the decisions that are so tough for so many. . . . A story well-told and deeply felt.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The book isn’t out until September 6, but it makes me so happy to see it in galley format (pictured above, with clover) and to hear that the writing, research, and ideas are resonating. More soon about a galley signing in May!
Hello! It’s been a while!
I’ve been working on some big projects, including a new nonfiction book, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood. It will be published next September by Graywolf Press! Would you like to read an excerpt?
“Baby Fever,” in the current issue of Orion, is adapted from the manuscript.
I’m working on a new website, too, which will show off the beautiful cover designed by Kimberly Glyder. And photos, and essay and story links. And this poor neglected blog, which I think I now have time to neglect a little less.
(photo above by Ken Abbott. Check out his amazing book here.)
I’m very pleased to tell you that my essay, “The Art of Waiting,” was a runner-up in the inaugural William Hazlitt Prize, sponsored by Notting Hill Editions, which honors the best essays written in English. Canadian author, academic, and politician Michael Ignatieff was the winner, with his outstanding “Raphael Lemkin and Genocide,” first published in the New Republic. The other runners-up are “Politics 2013” by JT Barbarese, “Light Entertainment” by Andrew O’Hagan, “The Empathy Exams” by fellow Graywolfer Leslie Jamison (her debut essay collection of the same name comes out next year), and “The Shadow of the Scroll: Reconstructing Islam’s Origins” by Sameer Rahim. It’s an honor to be in their company, and I hope you’ll consider ordering the handsome book (pictured above) that will include all of our essays.
For more on William Hazlitt, check out this page from Quotidiana, which includes a brief bio and a good selection of his work. I highly recommend “On Going a Journey,” relevant reading in the face of iPhones, social media, etc. etc.
Also: my students and I have a new post on Orion‘s blog.