Two former journalism school classmates offer a vibrant array of long-form writings by women in this collection.
In an editor’s note, Teen Vogue columnist Ralph and Demkiewicz, the marketing director of small press Milkweed Editions, trace their book’s origin to a 2012 panel that they attended at the Missouri School of Journalism. The panel was part of a two-day seminar celebrating the release of a different long-form anthology. The six panelists were male, and 16 of the 19 anthologized stories had been written by men. The student audience was mostly made up of women, and the editors note that “bitter whispers ran through the crowd.” This anthology—the third in a series—offers a satisfying rejoinder to that panel’s focus on men. The editors preface each piece with a bio and short introduction by the writer, in which she provides thoughts on the writing process, her career, and her story topic. These riveting introductions grant brief but intriguing glimpses of how Rachel Aviv’s editor talked her through moments of doubt, for example, or how Nikole Hannah-Jones reconciled her personal and professional views on a thorny topic. The subjects range widely and include school segregation, Jerry Lewis, the vaping industry, hate crimes, the Islamic State group, and campus sexual assault. A few stories stand out: Aviv’s terrifying piece on Nevada’s flawed system of guardians for the elderly from the New Yorker and Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s hilarious, detailed profile of Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle brand, Goop, from the New York Times Magazine. The most recent stories were published in 2018, and the oldest, Sara Corbett’s profile of skateboarder Cara-Beth Burnside, in 2000. Only the latter piece feels a bit dated now, with its references to a “super-caffeinated Red Bull soda” and “Skateboard Shannen, a new remote-control toy from Mattel.”
A well-selected anthology of potent stories by formidable women writers.