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Grounded and Discomfited: Women in the West

Grounded and Discomfited: Women in the West  By Ana Maria Spagna   |  July 2, 2019
Visit Whitman Mission National Historic Site outside of Walla Walla, Washington, on a fall day, and you see golden rolling hills against rich blue sky. Bright clouds float toward flat-topped ridges lined with windmills. The scenery stretches spacious and bucolic and belies the bloody past. Here, on November 29, 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a doctor and his missionary wife, and eleven others were famously massacred. Five Cayuse Indian men were accused of the crime and hanged. News of the violence caused legislators in Washington D.C. to give the territory an official name, Oregon, and to assign a provisional governor who immediately declared war on the Cayuse Nation. In I Am a Stranger Here Myself, winner of the 2017 River Teeth book prize, Debra Gwartney revisits this history.
Keywords: book review

Keeping Connected to the Natural World

Keeping Connected to the Natural World By Robert Root   |  June 3, 2019
Most days my wife and I read a book aloud at dinnertime and we each read a book silently at bedtime. Sometimes one book reverberates with the other, cumulatively expanding our consciousness. That happened when we read Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl together and I read Elizabeth Rush’s Rising over the same period.
Keywords: book review

Every Time I Read Him, I Feel Smarter

Every Time I Read Him, I Feel Smarter By Judith Sara Gelt   |  May 4, 2019
"Rather than clone what has already been documented—tweets and news reports, from right-leaning and left-leaning sources—Shields racks up an alternative collection of sources to support his thesis. This wide range of quotable material is, in part, what has me turning the pages..."
Keywords: book review

Resisting the Bright Shining Epiphany

Resisting the Bright Shining Epiphany By Tarn Wilson   |  April 1, 2019
Karen Babine's All the Wild Hungers captures the disorientation we feel when faced with this most ordinary, yet extraordinary, of shocks: the mortality of those dearest to us. These short, meditative essays span the eight months of her mother’s recovery from embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer.
Keywords: book review

Editor's Notes 20.2

Editor's Notes 20.2 By Joe Mackall   |  March 20, 2019
When my children turned twenty-one, I wrote each of them a letter.... I knew that although my children were still mine and, of course, always would be, they were entering the world as adults; and forevermore I would have to share them with the world in a way that left me excited and proud, but also anxious and wary. This moment in the life of River Teeth feels a bit like that...
Keywords: 20-2, ball state, transition

The Limits of Ownership, The Vagaries of Possession

The Limits of Ownership, The Vagaries of Possession By Jessie van Eerden   |  March 1, 2019
Sarah Viren's debut collection explores the concept of ownership. It begins with an essay on the ownership of material goods--the narrator's landlord lends her the furniture that belongs to a man on trial for murder. The essays that follow ask what it means to own one's body, one's family members, one's language, even one's story that is inextricably intertwined with the stories of others.
Keywords: book review

Blamed No More

Blamed No More By Ann Piper   |  February 7, 2019
Heartland, by journalist Sarah Smarsh, already a nonfiction finalist for the 2018 National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize, is a multigenerational account of a hardworking family caught in the systemic forces that perpetuate the unknown and disdained Americans who are sometimes called "white trash."

It's Not Marriage. It's the Husbands.

It's Not Marriage. It's the Husbands. By Eric Farwell   |  January 2, 2019
In her debut memoir, For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors, Laura Esther Wolfson, an American essayist and Russian translator for the PEN World Voices Festival, has written a complex book about three interacting subjects: her Jewish heritage, marriages to two Russian men, and her difficulties as a translator of Russian literature....

Making Violence Holy

Making Violence Holy By Thomas Larson   |  December 3, 2018
A dialogue review by Renee E. D'Aoust and Thomas Larson...

Editor's Notes 20.1

Editor's Notes 20.1 By Dan Lehman   |  November 20, 2018
A few issues ago, this space discussed the dangers of what some have termed "me-moir": nonfictional self-absorption in an era increasingly dominated by noisy narcissism. We suggested that genuine empathy is a ready antidote and and that such other-centeredness might help us not only reach outward for our topics, but even more importantly, help to coax deeply personal stories toward genuine connection. The secret, we suggested, was...
Keywords: 20.1

The Thrill of Narrative Incompleteness

The Thrill of Narrative Incompleteness By Jessica Handler   |  November 1, 2018
At first glance, the photographic record of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, shows an average town for the time, from 1890 to 1910....

Chucking Hail Marys from the Throw Line: On Failing to Define the CNF Chapbook

Chucking Hail Marys from the Throw Line: On Failing to Define the CNF Chapbook By Penny Guisinger   |  October 4, 2018
I'm pretty sure that the day Thomas Larson asked me to write a review of creative nonfiction chapbooks was the same day I said to a room full of people at AWP, "I don't know what a chapbook is."

A Failing Body Summons a Restless Mind: A Polio Memoir

A Failing Body Summons a Restless Mind: A Polio Memoir By Katharine Coldiron   |  September 1, 2018
Sandra Gail Lambert is not interested in being anyone's inspiration. If this review called her memoir in essays, A Certain Loneliness, inspiring, the author would recoil....

One Reader's Homage to Two Dogeared Authors

One Reader's Homage to Two Dogeared Authors By Robert Root   |  August 1, 2018
The next time you stop by my house, ask to see my copy of Patricia Hampl's The Art of the Wasted Day, her most recent book. You may not know that long ago, feeling guilty about writing in the margins of books, I began dogearing pages where the author wrote something I hoped to remember....

A Mother's Tale, An Enabled Son, The Damage Done

A Mother's Tale, An Enabled Son, The Damage Done By David MacWilliams   |  July 1, 2018
Meg McGuire's memoir explores addiction, mental disorder, denial, guilt, and the destructive effects of a parent's love....

Rooted and Reaching

Rooted and Reaching By Sarah Wells   |  June 1, 2018
My yoga instructor calls it “rooted and reaching,” that connection between the earthly and the sacred. I am here, even though somewhere in the past, if you’d asked me to shift into downward dog, I would have warned of some foreign demon taking residence in this Christ-saved jar of clay....

Art and National Identity

Art and National Identity By Doug Rutledge   |  May 2, 2018
As her title confirms, Vigderman’s primary concern is the Parthenon. The history she offers of this culturally significant site is enlightening.

Editor's Notes 19.2

Editor's Notes 19.2 April 3, 2018
Spread the word and shop for the birthday gifts! River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative is a teenager no longer! Our nineteenth volume closes with the issue you hold or are reading onscreen...

Houses of Injury and Healing

Houses of Injury and Healing By Sarah Cheshire   |  April 1, 2018
As the curator of Beautiful Flesh, G'Schwind’s self-proclaimed mission is "to create a body" that weaves individual stories together, forming a larger narrative.
Keywords: book review

The Heart He Hearts Aching Inside Him

The Heart He Hearts Aching Inside Him By Elizabeth Dark   |  March 7, 2018
A hybrid of poetry and prose, Lemon’s Feverland reads nothing like a chronological narrative. Rather, it’s a fully choreographed set of movements that, in their abrupt turns, mimic the abrupt moments, episodes, and periods of Lemon’s life.

Of Poets, Police Dogs, and Their Handlers

Of Poets, Police Dogs, and Their Handlers By Amber Anderson   |  February 6, 2018
In a journey through four countries, pursuing canine law enforcement units and their stories, Rose delivers a multi-faceted immersion memoir: observations, interviews, analysis, criticisms, and praise of how different nations approach policing with and without dogs.

The Country Cousin to Love

The Country Cousin to Love By Katy Major   |  January 9, 2018
When a friend of Kate Carroll de Gutes remarked about how often the positive aspects of others' lives are mentioned on Facebook, as opposed to the negative, de Gutes, in the essayist's quintessential way, got to thinking. What her musings sparked is The Authenticity Experiment...

Slim & Sublime

Slim & Sublime By RenĂ©e E. D’Aoust   |  December 1, 2017
In On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser extols the memoir form: "For me, no other nonfiction form goes so deeply to the roots of personal experience--to all the drama and pain and humor and unexpectedness of life."

The Dead Baby Lives

The Dead Baby Lives By Marilyn Bousquin   |  November 9, 2017
Jennifer Sinor's birth, which is anything but ordinary, sets up the thematic trajectory of Ordinary Trauma, a coming-of-age memoir that doubles as a father-daughter story...

Words and Their Users: Wrestling with John D'Agata's Canonry

Words and Their Users: Wrestling with John D'Agata's Canonry By Thomas Larson   |  October 4, 2017
I suppose it was inevitable. The age of self-disclosure-memoir writing, celebrity tweets, one-person Broadway shows, jihadist pre-bomb goodbye videos-would give way to one editor's need to order up a new hegemony for that intractable thing we call the essay...

Editor's Notes, Volume 19, Number 1

Editor's Notes, Volume 19, Number 1 By Joe Mackall   |  October 3, 2017
Remembering Brian Doyle and Nancy Mairs
Keywords: 19.1

The Art of Voids

The Art of Voids By Jennifer Ochstein   |  September 1, 2017
Sinor apprentices herself to O'Keeffe’s artistry. By doing so, Sinor examines the reaches of art itself, what art does, or what art should do. She pushes the stories onto the page as O'Keeffe "pushed paint on the canvas"...

What Also Matters? The Voices of Women of Color.

What Also Matters? The Voices of Women of Color. By Krystal Sierra   |  August 7, 2017
The Crunk Feminist Collection is a much-needed anthology of short essays written by black women and women of color. Its narratives center on race, gender, pop culture and current events. The collection blends writers who specialize in personal anecdote with razor-sharp critique and who employ a conversational tone as complex issues are carefully dissected and taken to task.

Must Hard Stories Be So Hard?

Must Hard Stories Be So Hard? By N. West Moss   |  July 1, 2017
Book Review of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma by N. West Moss

Happier Than He Has Any Right to Feel

Happier Than He Has Any Right to Feel By Karen Donley-Hayes   |  June 1, 2017
It may seem a foregone conclusion that Should I Still Wish, by John Evans, would make worthwhile reading. Evans is a Stanford University lecturer, memoirist, and winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize for Young Widower: A Memoir, in 2014. His writing has set him apart. What is not unique, however, is the subject of this memoir: death. Unfortunately, just about everyone has the misfortune of knowing and loving someone who has died or is dying, and more than a few of us have been compelled to write about our experiences. It’s an arguably over-worn subject, but Evans’s story doesn’t disappear into the middle of the pack.

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