ESSAYS

Since 2007, I've published a lot of nonfiction in various places. They range from memoir pieces to political essays, analysis of feminist topics to discussions of tropes in zombie and mummy fiction. 

 

Here are some links to a few of those. To see a larger selection, visit my Glittering Scrivener Blog. 

A SHORT LIST OF MOVIES YOU WILL NEVER SEE

June, 2014

 

This is an essay about the dearth of female ensemble "Oscar-topic" films - and about the failure of storytellers to see female characters as world-changers.

 

Intriguingly, given the many centuries of wrongs done to women, the stakes are actually HIGHER for heroic female characters than they are for equivalent male characters.

 

High stakes = better stories, right?

 

A female character going up against a world of men to fight for justice is more likely to have her life threatened than a male character is. Female characters often are put into stories to disappear. In the real world, women who fight for justice (or walk down the street), in any medium, are likely to be casually threatened with rape and murder. I am. Pretty much daily. Centuries of stories have taught men that it is okay to treat a female character like a walk on, that it is okay to reduce her lines to zero, to reduce her power to pretty, and to reduce her impact to whether or not she is hot enough to walk down the street in front of them. The same is not true for most men.

SINATRA'S COLD IS CONTAGIOUS: Hostile Subjects, Vulnerable Sources, and the Ethics of Outing

January, 2014

 

This piece was written in response to an article from the sports journalism world,  in regard to an inventor of a new golf putter - the journalist responsible for the artlcle had some serious ethical gaps, which I laid out in this essay.  It was subsequently cited in a lot of coverage of the scandal, as it was one of the first pieces to be openly critical of the original article. 

 

The story is not the only thing that matters. As a writer, it is not simply important to consider the repercussions of your research on persons who would otherwise be private citizens, it is important to consider that your source may be vulnerable. That your need for a good “tale” does not trump their need to survive. Do not, as a writer, value your narrative over someone’s life.

 

Your writing is not more important than someone’s life. It is only writing.

It is not the mandate of a writer to keep pursuing a private citizen’s secrets (secrets which have exactly no impact on the product you are writing about, nor on anything else public good) until they kill themselves. This is not an honorable act.

THE YEAR OF YES

2006

 

My nonfiction debut, translated into 13 languages and an international bestseller, The Year of Yes is a comic account of the year I went out with everyone in NYC who asked me on a date. If you feel like you've seen me on television, or recognize my face, this is probably why. I did every TV show from The Today Show to Keith Olbermann, and the book was written about and talked about everywhere from the New York Times to Elle Magazine to NPR.

 

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The "poignant and hilarious" (Newsday) story of one woman's twelve months of dating anyone -- absolutely anyone -- who asked her out. 

 

At some point every woman who's single (and not by choice) wonders whether she's not somehow responsible for her predicament. Is she too choosy? Should she have given that guy with the combover and the mother issues a shot? Maybe three full feet isnt too much of a height difference . . .?

 

Maria Dahvana Headley had been there, cherry-picking the men shed dated based on a variety of criteria, and clearly it wasnt getting her anywhere.

 

The Year of Yes is the hilarious and hopeful account of Headley's quest to find a man she could stand (for longer than a couple of hours).

 

Frustrated by her own ineffective taste, she resolved to leave her love life up to fate, dating anyone who asked her: homeless men, a millionaire, several non-English speakers, a mime...and finally, one man whose baggage would have disqualified him in any other year . . . but this was the Year of Yes.